“A book that every working woman should read….a practical ‘how-to’ manual for women trying to figure out what concretely to do when they realize that something is wrong in their careers, that they are not advancing as fast as the men around them or have been turned down for a promotion they wanted, and either don’t understand what is wrong or don’t know what to do about it. Chapter after chapter offers specific, actionable suggestions drawn from women who have been there and succeeded.” –from the Foreword by Ann-Marie Slaughter, Professor of Politics and International Affairs at Princeton University
An essential resource for any working woman, What Works for Women at Work is a comprehensive and insightful guide for mastering office politics as a woman. Authored by Joan C. Williams, one of the nation’s most-cited experts on women and work, and her daughter, writer Rachel Dempsey, this unique book offers a multi-generational perspective into the realities of today’s workplace. Often women receive messages that they have only themselves to blame for failing to get ahead—Negotiate more! Stop being such a wimp! Stop being such a witch! What Works for Women at Work tells women it’s not their fault. The simple fact is that office politics often benefits men over women.
Based on interviews with 127 successful working women, over half of them women of color, What Works for Women at Work presents a toolkit for getting ahead in today’s workplace. Distilling over 35 years of research, Williams and Dempsey offer four crisp patterns that affect working women: Prove-It-Again!, the Tightrope, the Maternal Wall, and the Tug of War. Each represents different challenges and requires different strategies—which is why women need to be savvier than men to survive and thrive in high-powered careers.
Williams and Dempsey’s analysis of working women is nuanced and in-depth, going far beyond the traditional cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all approaches of most career guides for women. Throughout the book, they weave real-life anecdotes from the women they interviewed, along with quick kernels of advice like a “New Girl Action Plan,” ways to “Take Care of Yourself”, and even “Comeback Lines” for dealing with sexual harassment and other difficult situations.
Up-beat, pragmatic, and chock full of advice, What Works for Women at Work is an indispensable guide for working women.
"Joan Williams and Rachel Dempsey clearly and vividly detail the double standards and the dead ends that so many women face in the workplace. Fortunately, the authors also provide easy-to-follow strategies to counter these scenarios. This book can help women claim their seat at the table and lean in to their careers."
—Sheryl Sandberg, author of Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead
"Written by a mother-daughter duo, this decidedly unwonky examination of gender bias doubles as a playbook on how to transcend and triumph."
—Abbe Wright, O, The Oprah Magazine
"Deftly combining sociological research with a more casual narrative style, What Works for Women at Work offers unabashedly straightforward advice in a how-to primer for ambitious women....The authors plow nimbly through decades of research, transforming what could have been dry and impenetrable statistics into attention-grabbing revelations."
—Debora L. Spar, The New York Times Book Review
"The book offers an accessible and sound model of problems faced by women climbing the corporate ladder, and presents clear strategies to take while waiting for business to catch up."
"This title is many steps beyond Lean In (2013), Sheryl Sandberg’s prescription for getting ahead in business. What Works for Women at Work is filled with street-smart advice and plain old savvy about the way life works in corporate America."
"In their compelling new book, Williams (Distinguished Professor and Director of the Center for WorkLife Law at the University of California, Hastings College of Law) and Dempsey (a student at Yale Law School who blogs for Huffington Post on women's issues) spell out the two sets of rules, higher standards and closed doors that many women encounter on the job these days."
—Kerry Hannon, Forbes
“It’s great to have a smart compilation of helpful suggestions put together not by two self-help gurus but by two women who understand that all their advice might still not be enough. Besides, make no mistake: the guidance they offer is often quite good, and I suspect few women will not find either a strategy they’ve successfully used in the past or one they can utilize in the future within its pages. […] It pretty much sums up what happens to all too many women today.”
—Women's Review of Books
"The insights from cognitive psychology and social psychology, and the tips gleaned from experience, that this book brings to bear on experiences of gender in the workplace are worth learning."
"The book's plentiful examples and suggestions provide smart strategies for federal workers to find work/life balance without calling their commitment to career into question."
—Katherine Reynolds Lewis, The Business of Federal Technology
"[The book] identifies four overall patterns of gender bias that high-achieving career women face."
—Jazelle Hunt, Black Voice News
"Forty years later, gender bias shouldn’t exist in the workplace, but it does, in large part because many of us don’t recognize its most common forms. That’s a pitfall—and for me, at least, a pratfall. Reading What Works for Women at Work would be a good first step in avoiding both."
—Theodore Kinni, Strategy and Business
"Much of its advice is solid career counsel for anyone looking to move up...ultimately the tone of this book is quite hopeful...[T]his book's message: If we make ourselves and the men in our lives aware of the roadblocks women still face, and we use some of the many tools the authors offer in this volume, we are likely to see women move ahead more quickly. In fact I wish there were a way to interest men in reading this book. They would get the most out of it."
—Susan Adams, Forbes.com
"The book offers women advice for asking for promotions or pay raises, while acknowledging that women who ask for these things can be considered masculine in ways that might undermine their success. I particularly appreciated reading about the toxic competition between women at work that can also hinder the success of women collectively."
—Joshunda Sanders, Salon.com
“Having sifted through many of the debates about how much women can and should succeed, Williams and Dempsey finally offer a template on how women can do that and how the workforce can support this integration; whether these women are homemakers or management, this book is a confidence booster. A much needed look at what women might want, but what society needs.”
—Amy Richards, author of Opting In
"Williams and Dempsey provide the essential bridge between research findings on prejudice and discrimination and the problems that women experience at work. Solutions exist, and these authors present them. What Works for Women at Work is a must-read book for everyone committed to creating gender-fair workplaces."
—Alice H. Eagly, author of Through the Labyrinth
"If you’re a working woman searching for the best pocket guide to success at work, here it is. Prove-It-Again, the Tightrope, The Maternal Wall, the Tug of War, Double Jeopardy—the distinguished scholar Joan Williams and her daughter guide women through each of these sticky wickets. Their invaluable advice is no substitute for broader changes in the workplace, they note, but it can help position more women to accomplish that change."
—Arlie Hochschild, author of The Outsourced Self
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