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QUINTESSENCE

Wonder Women

Women, Despite Being Leaders, Are Still Not Wonder Women- Debora Spar

Recently I was contacted by Jamie Coffey, Special Assistant to the President of Barnard College, Dr. Debora Spar. Because I had posted an earlier review discussion on Sheryl Sandberg’s book, LEAN IN, and the challenge of women's empowerment in the work place ["Lean In, Sometimes," July 30, 2013], Ms. Coffey suggested I might be interested in the unique perspective offered by a new book on this important topic by Dr. Spar, a Harvard-educated political scientist.

Debora’s new book, "Wonder Women: Sex, Power, and the Quest for Perfection," just recently hit the shelves. Throughout the author's personal and professional experiences, she has advocated tirelessly as a proponent of women’s education and leadership, highlighted both in her new book and in a recently published post by Dr. Spar I have excerpted here.

[guest blog post, excerpt from September 17, 2013 by Debora Spar*]

Feminism gave women of my generation an infinity of choices and opportunities to lead. We could cheer for the boys and play alongside them; look effortlessly elegant while chairing a board meeting, performing surgery, or saving the world. And never for a second did we doubt we would have it all. But then we grew up and the life we were supposed to handle flawlessly in 5-inch heels suddenly became considerably more complicated. Today, women are regularly trapped in an astounding set of contradicting expectations: to be the perfect mother and manager, the comforting spouse and competent boss. Not only do we strive to be the perfect person, and the perfect leader, but we blithely assume we will achieve it all. And when, inevitably, we don’t, we don’t blame the media, or our mothers, or the clamoring voices of others. We blame ourselves. Below is an excerpt from my newest book, Wonder Women: Sex, Power, and the Quest for Perfection, addressing the issue:
“Women are still sorely under-represented at the top of the professional pyramid: only 15.2 of the board members of Fortune 500 corporations, 16 percent of partners at the largest law firms, 19 percent of surgeons. Indeed, there seems to be some sort of odd demographic guillotine hovering between 15 and 20 percent; some force of nature or discrimination that plows women down once they threaten to multiply beyond a token few.”

- Debora Spar, "Wonder Women: Sex, Power, and the Quest for Perfection"

This is a deeply important topic - especially for our daughters, the next generation of women who will wrestle with the challenges of attaining a meaningful career and a sustainable home life. Let's continue this critical dialog...

*Please copy and paste the link below in your browser for the full post, book site, and a brief video clip by Dr. Spar:
http://wonderwomenthebook.com/2013/09/17/women-despite-being-leaders-are-still-not-wonder-women/

For more on Dr. Debora Spar: http://barnard.edu/about/leadership/president-spar-bio


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