A graduate of Barnard College, Zimmerman earned a Master of Fine Arts degree in poetry from the Columbia University School of the Arts, and was awarded a New York State Fine Arts grant in 1983.
For her first book Zimmerman coauthored, with Felice N. Schwartz, a book about women in corporations, Breaking With Tradition: Women and Work, the New Facts of Life (1992) based on the Harvard Business Review article that ignited the “mommy track” debate. Her first solo work was Tailspin: Women at War in the Wake of Tailhook (1995) which focused on the Tailhook Association scandal and the crucial link between sexual harassment and the role of women as warriors.
With husband Gil Reavill as co-author, Zimmerman published Raising Our Athletic Daughters: How Sports Can Build Self-Esteem and Save Girls’ Lives (Doubleday, 1998), which was a Finalist for the 1999 Books for a Better Life Award sponsored by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Zimmerman's next book, Made from Scratch: Reclaiming the Pleasures of the American Hearth (2003), was an exploration of homemaking from a feminist perspective.
Her book, The Women of the House: How a Colonial She-Merchant Built a Mansion, a Fortune, and a Dynasty (2006), gives a historical portrait of women in pre-Revolutionary New York, with specific reference to Philipse Manor Hall and Philipsburg Manor House.