What Works for Women at Work
Four Patterns Working Women Need to Know
Publication Year: 2014
Published by: NYU Press
Title Page, Copyright, Dedication, Acknowledgments
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Joan C. Williams and Rachel Dempsey, mother and daughter, have written a book that every working woman should read. It is also a book that every man who works with women should read. If women act on the prescriptions in these pages and men begin to understand the deep culturally embedded biases and assumptions...
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This book started when I began reading a field of research that changed my life. That field, called experimental social psychology, led me to leave my job of 25 years and move my family 3,000 miles across the country. Only then did my career really take off and did I get rid of a heavy load of anger that was warping my personal as...
1. Introduction: It’s Not (Always) Your Fault
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Jennifer is a consultant at a large management consulting firm. Since graduating from business school, Jennifer has worked hard, played by the rules, and thrived professionally. Things are going great for her: a few years ago, she was promoted to the prestigious position of director. Having achieved a measure of job security, she...
Part I: Prove-It-Again!
2. Spotting Prove-It-Again! Patterns
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Imagine the typical professional. What are they wearing? A suit? A tie? Do they have long hair or short hair? How do they act? Are they independent or attuned to others? Dominant or sensitive? Assertive or retiring? When they get angry, do they yell or cry?...
3. Prove-It-Again! Action Plan
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Of the many strategies women have for Prove-It-Again! bias, perhaps the most straightforward one came from a general counsel at a Fortune 500 company: “The best strategy for proving it again is proving it again, right?” she said. “If somebody needs you to prove it again, pointing out that that’s unfair is unlikely going to actually...
Part II: The Tightrope
4. Spotting Tightrope Patterns
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In 2008, as the presidential election approached, Saturday Night Live (SNL) featured a sketch in which Amy Poehler as Hillary Clinton and Tina Fey as Sarah Palin held a joint press conference to address the role sexism had played in their respective campaigns. The women opened with an introduction that segues into a...
5. Tightrope Action Plan: Neither a Bitch . . .
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During a particularly rough week in the 2008 presidential primary season, a voter in New Hampshire asked notoriously controlled candidate Hillary Clinton how she was holding up. She teared up. “It’s not easy,” she said, her voice breaking.1 The next day, in a stunning upset, she won the New Hampshire primary. More...
6. Tightrope Action Plan: . . . Nor a Bimbo
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The February 2013 issue of Cosmopolitan magazine includes an article in which Mika Brzezinski — a cohost of MSNBC’s Morning Joe as well as author of the women’s business advice book Knowing Your Value — provides readers with “The 5 Best Work Rules I’ve Learned.” In Rule Number 3, “Don’t Be Left Holding the Mop,” Brzezinski recounts a conversation she had with...
Part III: The Maternal Wall
7. Spotting Maternal Wall Patterns
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In 2003, the New York Times Magazine published an article called “The Opt-Out Revolution” detailing eight women educated at Princeton who dropped out of the workforce after having children. In the wake of the feminist revolution, the article implied, women were rejecting successful careers, driven by personal choice or biological...
8. Maternal Wall Action Plan
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Staying home with children is a choice many women make. Women should have that choice. So should men. However, this is a book for professional women, so we’ll be focusing on how to deal with the obstacles that emerge for those women who do stay the course at work...
Part IV: The Tug of War
9. Spotting Tug of War Patterns
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Once a year or so, a study or trend piece comes out about why women are bad to work for, about nasty female co-workers, about watercooler Queen Bees and Mean Girls at the office. And then there’s popular culture: from Working Girl to The Devil Wears Prada, the evil female boss is almost as tired a trope as the prostitute...
10. Tug of War Action Plan
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Gender wars can get very ugly. Often, during Joan’s interviews, women who described gender wars often swore her to silence. They felt embarrassed and vulnerable discussing conflicts with other women. One reason was that these conflicts were particularly...
Part V: Double Jeopardy?
11. The Experience of Gender Bias Differs
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Our First Lady is an incredibly accomplished woman.1 Michelle Obama went to Princeton as an undergraduate and then on to Harvard Law School. After earning her JD, she worked for several years at law firm Sidley Austin as an associate specializing in intellectual property, where she was assigned to mentor a summer...
Part VI: Leave or Stay?
12. Leave or Stay? Reading the Tea Leaves
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One of the biggest mistakes you can make is soldiering on in a job that’s not going well long after you should have left. In chapter 3, we discussed ways to get credit for your work in the face of stereotypes that men are better professionals than women. In chapters 5 and 6, we discussed strategies to avoid getting pegged as a doormat...
13. Leave or Stay? Don’t Dismay
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Leaving isn’t always the right option. Bouncing from job to job can have serious consequences: it may make you look fickle to potential future employers, keep you from developing long-term working relationships, or stunt your development of the in-depth skills and...
Part VII: 20 Lessons
14. The Science of Savvy in 20 Lessons
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This book is based on hundreds of experimental studies and nearly 150 hours of interviews. We felt pretty good that we were able to boil them down into just 13 short chapters until someone handed us a challenge: if you really want to change things, she said, give them 20 takeaways. Just 20. So here they are...
15. Conclusion: Jump-Starting the Stalled Gender Revolution
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At the current rate of change, equal numbers of men and women
won’t be CEOs of Fortune 500 companies for 276 years, and Congress
won’t reach gender parity for nearly a century.1
Equality won’t be on offer until organizations change — and they aren’t changing fast. Gender bias remains a common experience...
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About the Authors
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Page Count: 384
Publication Year: 2014