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Closing the Leadership Gap: Why Women Can and Must Help Run the World Hardcover – March 8, 2004


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Closing the Leadership Gap: Why Women Can and Must Help Run the World + Through the Labyrinth: The Truth About How Women Become Leaders (Center for Public Leadership) + Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Adult; 1ST edition (March 8, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670032743
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670032747
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,640,814 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Ms. Foundation President Marie Wilson is looking for some good women and men to become "post heroic" leaders. In Closing the Leadership Gap, Wilson focuses on the virtues of sharing power by skewering culture bound male leadership styles and celebrating the arguable premise that women use a similar "recipe" of leadership values such as inclusion and cooperation.

As co-founder of the White House project on women's leadership, Wilson is passionate in her belief that women's voices at the table offer an opportunity to shape policy around the marginalized issues of violence, education and healthcare. Making room for women at the top also gives men permission to bring their soft side to work." As she explains, "Both men and women must be in power to moderate the influence of masculinity in all of us." Such polemic does not prevent Wilson from making a persuasive case for role expansion rather than role reversal. Her practical approach to developing women as leaders is two pronged. First, individual women must confront four "Scarlett A's"(authority, ambition, ability, authenticity) that create barriers to leadership. Then, she describes the cultural and institutional changes that would involve men and women in sharing domestic leadership.

Her examples are fascinating and eclectic--including anecdotes about A-list leaders such as Hilary Clinton and Paramount Chair Sherry Lansing; research about hairstyles, husbands, and hemlines of female candidates; and tales from her election to the Des Moines City Council. Wilson puts on gender glasses to examine the "celluloid ceiling" in Hollywood. In all of her examples, the goal is nothing less than changing expectations of both sexes. Even those readers who may not agree that women share similar--even superior--leadership values, will applaud her goal: The opportunity for women and men to integrate the satisfactions of leadership and family life. --Barbara Mackoff

From Publishers Weekly

Women comprise half of the U.S. population and workforce, yet they hold only 14% of seats in the U.S. Congress and 12.4% of Fortune 500 board positions. More embarrassingly, the United States ranks 60th in women's participation in government, behind India and tied with Andorra. Wilson, president of the Ms. Foundation for Women and founder of the "Take Our Daughters to Work" day, argues that the future could be a brighter place for all by "changing society from a system built on the labor of women to one led equally by their vision." To do this requires nothing short of a cultural revolution, according to the former beauty queen, mother of five and corporate culture pioneer. With so-called women's issues like health, education and senior care at the forefront of everyone's agenda, women more than ever have a substantial contribution to make in shaping government policy and leading in both the workplace and home. Infusing the workplace with women's values-"inclusion, communication across lines of authority, the work of caring, relationship building"-would integrate professional and personal life for everyone's benefit, Wilson argues. She points to progressive law firms that allow law partnerships for part-time lawyers, hold working-parent lunches and offer gender-neutral flex-time, as examples of creating win-win workplaces for both men and women. She also advocates unorthodox measures, like President Barbie, to set ambitious role models for girls. Although sometimes prone to over-generalize female values, this is a persuasive and logical text that is less about women running the world then allowing them to have a meaningful role in its custody.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A. Koram on December 10, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Marie C. Wilson is absolutely correct in stating that women can and must help run the world. The book is well written and inspiring. However, the tone of the book directs Wilson's message toward women readers only. This can be extremely detrimental because it fails to speak to the leadership role that male readers play. Both women and men can together bring about change in the workplace but Wilson suggests that women, themselves, must be the only catalysts to bring about change. Although this is true and women must be a catalyst and strive for change, men also have a large part in recognizing the leadership traits of women to and altering the thoughts and perceptions of society. Change cannot be brought about if only one group is emotionally and physically invested, both genders must join together to change the world for the better.

The book also talks a lot about the nurturing traits of women. These traits of nurture, self-sacrifice and sensitivity are both valued by society and by women themselves. Wilson states that the qualities women bring do not match the traditional actions of a leader. This statement groups all women together and further stereotypes the roles and attributes of women. All women are different and hence their leadership characteristics are different. On the other hand, Wilson does a better job in diversifying the occupations and types of women involved in leadership positions. From the United States government and military positions to British parliament, Wilson shows the importance and benefits of female leadership all over the world.

The author also makes it a point to state that gender biases are products of television, Hollywood and advertising.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By DKidder on April 12, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This is a great book, but I can not decide whether it should be in the political section or the business section or in the self help section. What the author has done is created the story of what obstacles women as leaders have faced, and what the impact on society has been as a result. As a political book, she maps all the possibilities that women can create to change the stagnant way of politics by achieving leadership in that realm, and working for the common good of all, like education, child and eldercare, as well as taking a pro-active role in foreign affairs. As a business book, the author demonstrates the value of women leaders who are more in touch with the ways the business can be done to bring all to the table to achieve greater productivity with more humane and less stressful ways of getting there. As a self help book, she gives women the courage to create themselves as leaders, shows us the value of our leadership, and provides ideas and resources to become leaders, in all realms of life. She sees the importance of inclusion and recognizes that we must learn to lead as partners with men, and together, achieve the possibilities of a more just and more powerful society.
It's also a fun book filled with surprises, as she wonderfully weaves the story of Hester Prynne of the Scarlet Letter into the body of this book, reminding us that though Hester was branded with the A of adultery, she rose to display the "A" of authenticity, ambition, authority, and ability, as she lived her life. Marie Wilson challenges us to do the same.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Kathy Elliott, co-author "The Old Girls' Network" on May 13, 2004
Format: Hardcover
As we enter an important presidential election, this book's message holds even more import. Marie Wilson eloquently writes about how we can and must begin to change women's level of participation in the leadership of our country, and indeed, the world. This is true regardless of one's political orientation. And, while this book speaks to me so strongly on a political level, it is much more than that. It is a cultural and economic examination of women's role in our society and is the type of book that makes you, as a reader, think and re-think your values and how you participate in effecting change in our society.
But this is no hard-line, soap-boxy type of overwrought treatise. It is warmly written and totally engaging. You will be inspired by this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Larry Mullins on January 18, 2009
Format: Paperback
Marie C. Wilson does a masterful job of outlining the problem and supporting it with credible information. Essentially, it is the general perception of women as leaders. Men speak with authority even when they are winging it with no facts to back them up. They are given a pass, while women seldom are. Witness the 2008 primaries and the election campaign that followed. I suggest another issue that is seldom mentioned: women are speaking to the choir. Nearly all the books along this line are written to women and reviewed by women. What is perhaps lacking in Wilson's book is a clear solution and an outline of action steps to take to get men to listen and to elevate the perception of women as leaders.

This cannot be successfully addressed as a general issue, it only be achieved on a personal level. The question is what is doable now? What should each woman do today to improve their own lives, to elevate their own credibility, to position themselves as leaders on a local level? In this regard, I suggest women augment their personal education with a book titled "The Four Minute Sell" by Janet G. Elsea. It is available on Amazon in used copies for a low cost. In my judgment, it is one of the best books written on personal image for females. Also look for "Women Make the Best Salesmen" by Linda Luna Brem. Both of these books inspire and pragmatically instruct and will lift you to another level. Critical mass will only be achieved one woman at a time.
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