Caryl Rivers and Rosalind Barnett have given us a gift: in their insightful, must-read book , they bust the pervasive job-is-done myth around opportunities for women in the workplace with evidence that shows it’s just not so – even after fifty-plus years of hard-earned accomplishments. At the same time, they point out that winning the new soft war on women must be a priority, not only for women, but for men, business, family, communities and our society as a whole. Decision-makers take note!
—Ilene H. Lang, former President & CEO, Catalyst
So my bedtime reading this past week is a great book – The New Soft War on Women by Caryl Rivers and Rosalind Barnett. The book is a departure from my usual finance non-fiction reading, and an absolutely fascinating study of women in the workforce. Here is a great synopsis:
Are women finally breaking through the glass ceiling and achieving promotions and pay equity, free from the gender discrimination of the past? In this well-researched book, the authors cite numerous current statistics demonstrating that women with similar qualifications as their male counterparts still earn less for comparable positions. Bias is more subtle than previously and wages a soft war on working women. Female executives such as Marissa Mayer and Hilary Clinton who do achieve top jobs face scrutiny and more criticism than males and risk falling off the glass cliff with one small misstep. Most gender-diversity programs are ineffective. Furthermore, men are gaining ground in traditionally female occupations, like nursing. The authors reassure working mothers with mommy guilt that evidence shows children’s development is not adversely affected by working moms. To win the competition for promotions, women are encouraged to network and claim credit for their accomplishments despite the risk of being disliked for it. If there’s anything encouraging, it’s that competence can trump gender stereotypes, and there’s hope if women continue to fight for equality.
—Cindy Kryszak, Texas Wall Street Women
Rivers and Barnett, who have co-authored three previous books on gender and economics, deploy both hard numbers and human stories to make a powerful case that, despite current myths of female ascendance and male decline, when women make careers they have to do so while “carrying a history of gender discrimination that is as heavy as a pack filled with large rocks.”
This fascinating book really casts light on some of the most important gender issues of our time, and makes you think about personal experiences and how you can try to make a difference in society.
Rivers and Barnett’s vital study of the state of women in the labor force draws upon statistics, interviews, and cultural analysis, to argue that, contrary to the widespread belief that women are outstripping men in the classroom and workforce (“the myth of female ascendance”), the situation is far from ideal. Moreover, the authors claim that gains that women have made since the early part of the 20th century, such as access to contraception, are in danger of disappearing… it’s hard to ignore overwhelming evidence that shows the undesirable and unsustainable conditions women face in the 21st century… this book will move readers who believe that feminism is an outdated movement, or that gender discrimination is a thing of the past… it effectively shows how old ideas are still at work and unveils their contemporary manifestations.
Chronicles the ongoing marginalization of women, on levels ranging from executive to domestic. The authors’ detailed examination draws heavily on statistical data, demonstrating how widespread the railroading of women has been over the last 40 years in less-obvious places such as classrooms and in the home, where expectations force many to forfeit professional careers in favor of caregiving and child-rearing. The authors admit that while great strides have taken place in the gender equality movement itself, these advancements and opportunities for women are hardly commensurate to those afforded to male contemporaries, leaving women lacking both the compensation and the influence necessary to advance within the corporate arena, or anywhere, for that matter.
In page after page, these authors catalog the barriers that women still confront…[and] support their argument with solid data and illuminating anecdotes.
In this well-researched book, the authors cite numerous current statistics demonstrating that women with similar qualifications as their male counterparts still earn less for comparable positions… The authors reassure working mothers with mommy guilt that evidence shows children’s development is not adversely affected by working moms. To win the competition for promotions, women are encouraged to network and claim credit for their accomplishments despite the risk of being disliked for it. If there’s anything encouraging, it’s that competence can trump gender stereotypes, and there’s hope if women continue to fight for equality.
FIVE STARS! In this eye-opening book, Rivers and Barnett offer women the real facts as well as tools for combating the “soft war” tactics that prevent them from advancing in their careers. With women now central to the economy, determining to a large degree whether it thrives or stagnates, this is one war no one can afford for them to lose.