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Walking Out on the Boys Paperback – June 4, 1999


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (June 4, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374525951
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374525958
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 5.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,117,732 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Here's Frances Conley's description of her medical school anatomy class: "[W]e would become accustomed and oblivious to the fact that little bits of dead flesh would cling to our clothing and our shoes, and entangle in our hair, traveling with us to other classes or even home, as if the dead were making a futile attempt to retain a tenuous tie to the living." Just as she felt overcome by the dead in that class, her neurosurgery career was fraught with sexism and harassment--from her admission as one of just 12 women (out of 60) in her medical school class in 1961 to her decision to resign from Stanford University's School of Medicine 30 years later. Conley has done every patient--and every female doctor--a sincere favor with this memoir of the games that are played within the academic and medical realms. The book has a bad aftertaste, however, because Conley's message is not one of empowerment. She was compelled to resign from her position when the university appointed Dr. Gerald Silverberg as acting chairman of the department. He was later demoted after a sexual harassment investigation and Conley returned to Stanford life, but, as she says, "The academic community has shown little inclination to change 'business as usual.'" Conley, now 57, gives a well-written play-by-play of years of sexual shenanigans and legal proceedings, but offers little in the way of advice for women who find themselves at the receiving end of harassment. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

The country's first tenured female neurosurgeon, Conley explains that gender discrimination prompted her dramatic resignation from Stanford.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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The style is clear, direct and engaging.
GK
With that in mind, I suppose I'm on shaky ground by wishing that her book had a wider focus.
Kevin Pezzi, MD
As a female surgeon, I had the pleasure of working with Dr. Conley in my residency.
Heather Jean Furnas

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By goodwin@netcarrier.com Cathy Goodwin on May 17, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Reviewers criticize Conley for not offering solutions and focusing too much on academic politics. They miss the point.
Harassment happens through politics -- dull but deadly. And there *are* no solutions. Conley shows us that even national press coverage can't make a dent in a determined university protected by a prestigious reputation (or -- as she doesn't say -- a winning sports team).
My own experience suggests that many of Conley's criticisms of Stanford Medical School apply to other universities and to other professional schools. (How many women are teaching at your favorite business school?) Nor are women the only targets. Those who attack women are also likely to display hostility towards colleagues, students and clients who are ethnic minorities, gay/lesbian, disabled, or even childless by choice. The reality is that universities lag behind other institutions, including blue-collar and military, when it comes to integrating women into their faculties.
In her new book, Fighting Fire, Caroline Paul (a San Francisco fire fighter) shares with Conley the awareness that harassment can be subtle rather than violent. Yet, unlike Stanford Medical School, the SFFD shows progress. After a few years, a male colleague apologizes voluntarily for earlier hostility, admitting he's grown and changed since more women have arrived. Carol Ann Barkalow's book, In the Men's House, shows that West Point began making similar progress twenty years ago. Speaking about those expelled for harassment, a male cadet says, "We don't want those jerks in the army."
These attitude shifts seem foreign to Conley's world -- and, I suspect, to many academic settings. Yet universities -- even private ones -- also receive considerable state and federal funds.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 29, 1999
Format: Paperback
Frances Conley offers a compelling indictment of gender discrimination at Stanford Medical School, past and present, focussing on her own recent experience. I started this book at midnight and could not put it down until finishing it at 4 a.m. Conley provides case after case of medical school professors given virtually absolute and unchecked power over their subordinates and their subordinates' careers, abusing that power, and the medical school administration covering up that abuse. While she never addresses the issues of solidarity in the face of sexual harassment, her cases all indicate that when one woman protests, she loses, and only a pattern of abuse reported by multiple women leads to any punishment of the harassers at all. Conley was fortunate and grateful that 37 others came forward to support her claim that Gerald Silverberg engaged in inappropriate sexual contact and other activities counterindicating his capability for leadership. I'll be passing this book onto many women who have had the choice to be treated at Stanford Hospital and may well now rethink that choice.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 22, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Sadly, any woman who's achieved a doctorate (& not just in medicine) will relate wholeheartedly to this book. I greatly admire Dr. Conley's unbelievable courage in standing up to the Boys' Club & trying to make things better for women in academia. Hopefully this book will encourage ALL women to stand up to the misogyny & be heard.
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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Kevin Pezzi, MD on November 27, 2001
Format: Paperback
Men groping women. Men coming on to women, and making incredible jackasses of themselves in the process. Men getting drunk and acting like barbarians. Men with one thing in mind. Men whose compulsion to talk about sex is so strong that they do it at highly inappropriate times in public. Men who think that pressuring women is their God-given right. If you think that what I just described is a high school football team on an overdose of steroids, you're wrong. These sexual antics weren't perpetrated by adolescents with testosterone bubbling out their ears, they were committed by male doctors at Stanford University. Not being stupid, these demigods put two and two together and realized that they could use their power to pressure women. One of these men made a fatal mistake, though: he pressured Dr. Frances Conley, a topnotch neurosurgeon and renowned researcher at Stanford. Bad move, fella. I suppose that guy never learned that if you're going to pick a fight, you don't provoke someone who can whack you back so hard you just might rethink whether it's wise to be a bully.
As publicity spread about Dr. Conley's fight, more and more women came forward to reveal their stories. This was certainly an eye-opening book. Before reading it, I'd never given much thought about the sexual harassment of women in medicine and allied healthcare fields. Perhaps we're more civilized here in Michigan, because I've never seen or heard of any such hanky-panky. Well, let me revise that last statement: I have witnessed a lot of sexual inducement, but what I saw was women chasing men not the other way around. But everyone knows that those California folks are trendsetters.
Dr. Conley never envisioned herself as a trendsetter, though.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 21, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Frances Conley is a friend and mentor that has endured much more sacrifice and torture in the workplace than I could ever imagine. She tells about the support system she developed to survive, commradery in the OR with the nurses, orderlies and "less threatening" staff. She remains an inspiration and the book an incredible catharsis of her experiences. Although it might not appeal to everyone, certainly every woman who aspires to succeed in a male dominated profession should read it. Men in positions of power (imagined or real) should also read it to learn how to nuture and not stifle the creative spirit of their female collegues.
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