Two significant facts are apparent from reading this volume. First, the authors are themselves examples of women overcoming barriers, breaking into formerly all-male domains, succeeding against the odds, and exercising economic, political, and educational leadership — on behalf of other women as well as on behalf of the institutions they serve. Thus their own lives are eloquent rebuke to anyone who still thinks that women cannot manage effectively in any realm, or that women must always take second place to men, or that family responsibilities make women less serious about public responsibilities, or that women fail to help one another; none of those old excuses for discrimination can carry any weight in light of the impressive achievements of the authors.
Second, however, their articles make equally clear that individual trickle-up is not enough. The statistics marshaled and the experiences examined throughout this book show that the whole social system must be changed if women in general, not just a hardy, pioneering few, are to gain economic power. The apparent openness of American society to the overachiever from an underprivileged minority group who can pull herself up by the panty hose and succeed makes it too easy to assume that the problems and solutions are all individual ones. It makes it easy for those in power to point to the token overachiever as an example for the rest of the group's members who are struggling merely to survive; "Why can't you be more like her?" is today's version of Henry Higgins's lament, "Why can't a woman be more like a man?" And then, having applauded the token, the majority can turn their backs on the rest.
Kanter, Rosabeth Moss
New England Journal of Public Policy: Vol. 6
, Article 3.
Available at: http://scholarworks.umb.edu/nejpp/vol6/iss1/3