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Damned If She Does, Damned If She Doesn't: Rethinking the Rules of the Game That Keep Women from Succeeding in Business Paperback – May 25, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
Married couple and management consultants, Cronin and Fine tackle the persistent gap in workplace equality and payment parity between the sexes. After witnessing how much more quickly Fine advanced in his career—despite their near-identical education and work performance—and observing the difficulties that their daughter was facing in her job search, the couple took a long look at the factors holding women down. The book breaks down the corporate culture mantras (e.g., find mentors, be prudent in challenging the power structure) and the hidden impediments they pose for women. Despite major gains for women elsewhere in society, little has changed for women in corporate America; sexism is insidious rather than overt, and in dealing with men in the workplace, women are still presented with two options: fight them or become them. But becoming them can backfire, as Cronin and Fine demonstrate through stories of women struggling to break into corporate culture and bond with co-workers. This intelligent and substantive work is a must-read for all businesspeople—and will make an excellent graduation gift for young women entering the workforce. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
"This intelligent and substantive work is a must-read for all businesspeople—and will make an excellent graduation gift for young women entering the workforce."
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Top customer reviews
It also brings clarity to why many of my husband's recommendations on how to deal with certain situations diddn't have the same impact they did for him. Ha.
I found this book a terrific read. With both the male and female perspectives supporting their conclusions, it is impossible to deny the remaining discrepancies in women's success versus men's in the corporate world.
This should be required reading for all men and women in corporate America. Universities should present it to their business management students. Discussions should occur as to how to address the findings.
While the book suggests there are a few companies that make concerted efforts to rectify the situation, it has been my experience that those are still unknowingly supporting the gender differences that subjugate women's success.
While the book points out much of the discrepancies, there is little good advice on concrete methods for companies to resolve them and make right for future generations. I would love to see that added.
Cronin and Fine will help a lot of women with their message: "It's probably not your fault if you're hitting a wall. If you follow the corporate culture, the rules won't work for you. If you don't...well, organizations punish rule-breakers."
I was particularly taken with the example of the woman who joined a colleague in bringing a sensitive issue to the attention of their mutual boss's boss. He was praised for being a courageous leader; she was criticized for challenging a male boss. Any woman who's been in the corporate world more than ten minutes will have her own examples. A male professor friend was horrified when his female department head asked him to call the maintenance people about a problem; when she called, her requests landed at the bottom of the pile.
The book is well written and extremely easy to follow. It's actually hard to put down.
My only complaint is that the authors claim, "Change has to come at the organizational level." In fact, some women do rise to senior corporate positions. They do become senators and college presidents. It would be useful to ask, "How did they do it? Did they modify the rules?"
Additionally we can learn lessons from the military, where women are expected to dress and behave in ways that aren't typically feminine. I recently read and reviewed a book about a female African American woman who became a Captain in US Navy; she used humor to defuse tense situations. Women are flying planes off carrier decks and getting named to command West Point cadet brigades. They don't just get jobs: they get promoted. What's their secret? My hunch is that women succeed when their activities can be quantified so their achievement is undeniable; they've made more sales, scored higher on a proficiency or won more basketball games.
It's also possible that successful women have learned to modify their styles. Pat Summitt, the legendary basketball coach, wrote that she softened her style when dealing with campus administration; she drew on her sorority persona so she wouldn't be threatening.
My own belief is that women have to forge their own path and make their own rules. It's much harder than just responding to corporate culture but in the end it may be even more rewarding.