The Sexual Paradox by Susan Pinker

The Sexual Paradox asks a simple question: if women are not reaching the higher levels of the business and academic hierarchies, perhaps it’s because they somehow do not want or are not built to aspire to them and to make the sacrifices in their private lives that such positions inevitably require.

Just like Obama can talk freely about race, the author can advance her theories because she’s a woman (see what happened to Larry Summers when he attempted – clumsily to be sure – to make a similar argument.) Some of what she says makes sense, especially in the first part of the book: women are clearly wired different from men. They can tune in to others’ concerns better, which is an advantage when it comes to social situations but  can be a distratction when reaching for those top jobs.

However, I myself frustrated by the book. It seems to rely mostly on anecdotes from high-powered women who “dropped out” and seem compelled to explain that they never encountered a glass ceiling. Where, I wonder, did these women work? It’s all well and good to believe that women and men are wired differently (and I would agree) but to deny any glass ceiling? Sorry, I can’t buy that, not at this point.

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Filed under Non fiction

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