Friday, April 24, 2009

Book Review: Rumors of Our Progress Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

I think this review might interest our bloglodites (I mean this as a compliment, PA boglodites are the best!): it's on the status of women in the US today. The author is a US Congresswomen, a Democrat representing NY City.--tr

Rumors of Our Progress Have Been Greatly Exaggerated: Why Women's Lives Aren't Getting Any Easier--And How We Can Make Real Progress For Ourselves and Our Daughters
by Carolyn Maloney

Reviewed by Barry Nolan (from

I'm not exactly Alan Alda, But I have tried to be sensitive to women's issues over the years. After all, I say things like "spokesperson", and "Congressperson". I was doing my bit for equality. But after reading this book, I realize I hadn't a clue about some of the barriers and obstacles that my mother, my sister, my wife and my daughter had to deal with - that I -a happy oblivious carefree successful white guy - would simply never encounter. And It all just makes my blood boil.

I think about how my mom struggled so to make ends meet after my dad died - and I read in the book that the single most powerful predictor of poverty in old age - is motherhood.

I think about how my wife learned to use her initials when she first started sending in applications for better jobs because she had learned that if the prospective employer leaped to the assumption that she was a guy - she was more likely to get an interview. More likely to get a job. And I read about issues in the book that she faced that I never even gave a thought to - after all - I was not likely to get fired because I was pregnant - or because I needed some flex time to take care of a sick child - or an ailing parent.

I think about my sister - trying unsuccessfully to get that promotion at the Kennedy Space Center - and then I read in the book about how at Walmart 66% of all the workers are female and only 33% of the managers are women. Like what? Women managers would not be likely to understand the finer points of shopping? Puleez. And when it comes to good jobs for women in science, math, technology, fuhgehtaboutit. And darn it my daughter is gifted in math.

I read about the issues of sexual harassment in the work place - and I don't even want to think about my incredible, talented, and funny daughter - heading out into a work place that is like - well - the ones I was part of when I was her age.

But at least there is hope - because I also read in the book that there are realistic things we can do - steps we can take - to make it fairer - make it better - even make the economy stronger overall at the same time. I will give my copy of the book to my daughter with the dog eared pages about how to get information about comparable wages - so she is less likely to be a victim of the Gender Wage Bias effect when she graduates and heads to those first jobs. She is going to be a writer by the way - a great writer.

I will buy another copy for my wife for her birthday - outside of the fact that it will earn me some major points - it will be a useful resource when she applies again for a promotion at the University - she can turn to the resources outlined in the book - maybe this time things will go a little better. Be a little fairer.

i will get a copy to my sister. Who somehow managed it all back when she was a single mom for a while. I am too busy to get everything done on days when I don't even have to go into an office. For the life of me - I just don't see how single working parents hold it together. If I had had to squeeze finding affordable quality day care on to my plate - I believe I would have had my full blown Alan Alda moment and cried. The book outlines how tax deductions for day care would make it easier for parents like my sister - to take better care of both family and career responsibilities. After all - as the book points out - guys like me can take business tax deductions for taking our colleagues out to a strip club - we would talk about business after all. Right. it would seem only right that my sister could deduct the expenses of day care as a cost of taking care of her business responsibilities.

i will buy those extra copies - I will give them to the women in my life that I cherish so. And I will support Congresswoman Maloney in her efforts to create an economic policy and work place environment that values these women just the way I do - it is after all - what Alan Alda would do.