Dr. Barbara Ehrenreich is a native of Butte, Montana and the daughter in a copper mining family. She earned her Ph.D. in Cell Biology from Rockefeller University, but never pursued a career as a scientist. She is often described as a social critic.
“What prepared me for writing? Probably the main thing was that I’ve always been a big reader. By reading “the classics” while I was growing up and good fiction ever since, I developed an ear for the language and what can be done with it. Then, too, science played a role: One thing I learned in my dilettantish bopping around from one scientific discipline to another is that I can learn almost anything if I try hard enough. So I’ve never been afraid to take on any assignment that came my way.”
Dr. Ehrenreich has worked as a municipal budget analyst, a professor of women and health issues, and as a journalist. Her worldview is shaped by her familial experience in the blue-collar world, by her observations as a journalist, and by a dramatic personal event. She learned that the reason her labor was induced during the birth of her first child in 1970 was that it was late in the evening and the doctor wanted to go home. Enraged, she became a champion for women’s health issues.
She is best known for her non-fiction essays that resulted from her reporting and have appeared in leading periodicals such as The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times Magazine, The Washington Post, Life, The New Republic, Ms., and The Nation. She has been a fellow at the New York Institute for the Humanities, the New York based Society of American Historians, and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.
Nickel and Dimed represents investigative journalism and provides a recording of the author’s experiment surviving on minimum wage while working as a waitress, hotel maid, house cleaner, nursing home aide, and Wal-mart clerk. It is important to note that this text was written during a time of economic prosperity in the United States.
Dr. Ehrenreich lives in Florida.