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The New Soft War on Women: How the Myth of Female Ascendance Is Hurting Women, Men and Our Economy

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For the first time in history, women make up half the educated labor force and are earning the majority of advanced degrees. It should be the best time ever for women, and yet... it’s not. Storm clouds are gathering, and the worst thing is that most women don’t have a clue what could be coming. In large part this is because the message they’re being fed is that they now ha For the first time in history, women make up half the educated labor force and are earning the majority of advanced degrees. It should be the best time ever for women, and yet... it’s not. Storm clouds are gathering, and the worst thing is that most women don’t have a clue what could be coming. In large part this is because the message they’re being fed is that they now have it made. But do they? In The New Soft War on Women, respected experts on gender issues and the psychology of women Caryl Rivers and Rosalind C. Barnett argue that an insidious war of subtle biases and barriers is being waged that continues to marginalize women. Although women have made huge strides in recent years, these gains have not translated into money and influence. Consider the following:  - Women with MBAs earn, on average, $4,600 less than their male counterparts in their first job out of business school. - Female physicians earn, on average, 39 percent less than male physicians. - Female financial analysts take in 35 percent less, and female chief executives one quarter less than men in similar positions. In this eye-opening book, Rivers and Barnett offer women the real facts as well as tools for combating the “soft war” tactics that prevent them from advancing in their careers. With women now central to the economy, determining to a large degree whether it thrives or stagnates, this is one war no one can afford for them to lose.


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For the first time in history, women make up half the educated labor force and are earning the majority of advanced degrees. It should be the best time ever for women, and yet... it’s not. Storm clouds are gathering, and the worst thing is that most women don’t have a clue what could be coming. In large part this is because the message they’re being fed is that they now ha For the first time in history, women make up half the educated labor force and are earning the majority of advanced degrees. It should be the best time ever for women, and yet... it’s not. Storm clouds are gathering, and the worst thing is that most women don’t have a clue what could be coming. In large part this is because the message they’re being fed is that they now have it made. But do they? In The New Soft War on Women, respected experts on gender issues and the psychology of women Caryl Rivers and Rosalind C. Barnett argue that an insidious war of subtle biases and barriers is being waged that continues to marginalize women. Although women have made huge strides in recent years, these gains have not translated into money and influence. Consider the following:  - Women with MBAs earn, on average, $4,600 less than their male counterparts in their first job out of business school. - Female physicians earn, on average, 39 percent less than male physicians. - Female financial analysts take in 35 percent less, and female chief executives one quarter less than men in similar positions. In this eye-opening book, Rivers and Barnett offer women the real facts as well as tools for combating the “soft war” tactics that prevent them from advancing in their careers. With women now central to the economy, determining to a large degree whether it thrives or stagnates, this is one war no one can afford for them to lose.

30 review for The New Soft War on Women: How the Myth of Female Ascendance Is Hurting Women, Men and Our Economy

  1. 5 out of 5

    Cara

    I won this book as a Goodreads giveaway - and I'm very glad I did. The thesis of the book is that women's progress in the march towards equal rights and equal treatment has actually stalled in recent years, and, worse than that, has actually gone backwards. Women face discrimination and double standards - but we as a society deny these problems exist (hence "soft" war), making them ever harder to eradicate. The argument is very convincing - the book is well-written, meticulously researched, up-t I won this book as a Goodreads giveaway - and I'm very glad I did. The thesis of the book is that women's progress in the march towards equal rights and equal treatment has actually stalled in recent years, and, worse than that, has actually gone backwards. Women face discrimination and double standards - but we as a society deny these problems exist (hence "soft" war), making them ever harder to eradicate. The argument is very convincing - the book is well-written, meticulously researched, up-to-date, and overall just very interesting. The authors touch on all aspects of women's lives - in the workplace, in education, in family life, and in the public eye. Many, many sources are cited, ranging from academic and scientific studies to anecdotes from a wide variety of women. Feminism is certainly not fashionable these days, but every woman owes it to herself to learn about the problems facing women today. If we deny these problems exist, they will only get worse. This book was a real eye-opener for me, and I genuinely hope that it becomes a best-seller - the message is relevant, necessary, and very important.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Eileen Sullivan

    I purchased this book at an ACE (American Council in Education) women networking event a few months ago. Actually heard one of the authors speak, too. She was informative with facts and stories about women in the workforce and was an excellent speaker. The book backed up all she shared at the event and provided facts and research about women in the workforce. Recently it was reported that women now make up half the work force but the many stats in the book remind us that women still make signifi I purchased this book at an ACE (American Council in Education) women networking event a few months ago. Actually heard one of the authors speak, too. She was informative with facts and stories about women in the workforce and was an excellent speaker. The book backed up all she shared at the event and provided facts and research about women in the workforce. Recently it was reported that women now make up half the work force but the many stats in the book remind us that women still make significantly less (77 cents to the dollar) than their male counterparts.They often do not nominate themselves for promotion and there are serious gender issues in all areas of the work force. Research also informs us that women "lead the way" differently than men. They tend to "take care" and not "take charge," and they really need to talk themselves up! The last two chapters may be my favorite, too. The authors share information about women working and parenting as well as how the U.S. rates for parenting leave (not at all good). We all need to read this book so we can work together to move forward. "Winning the New Soft War has ot be an urgent national priority....At long last, we must move from rhetoric to action, from mythology to hard reality. The New Soft War can be won if we can summon the will to battle."

  3. 4 out of 5

    Aisha Manus

    Women are slowly losing all the gains they have made and this book shows just how it’s happening. Naturally I felt fury reading this because I’m so tired of the patriarchy getting in the way of real, verifiable economic growth because the egos of men can’t handle that more gender diversity means better economy. Men would rather society fails than see more than on token women succeed. “One woman is a token, two is a presence, three women is a voice!” We need three or more women!!!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Hali Davidson

    This is a wonderfully informative book, its only fault being that the main ideas are a little excessively regurgitated from earlier chapters, and a few of the points made are a bit too stretched-out of leaps. That being said, once I finished it, I immediately bought it as an addition to my Christmas presents.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Sheri

    *I won this book in a First Reads giveaway. I love that. Thanks Goodreads and Tarcher Books! Caryl Rivers and Rosalind Barnett have a strong and important message. The tremendous progress made starting in the middle of the last century has stalled. Discrimination and sexism continue to hold women back in the workforce and the economy. This book contains convincing data that show this to be true, despite what we frequently hear from media, employers, and even other women. However, I dislike the ph *I won this book in a First Reads giveaway. I love that. Thanks Goodreads and Tarcher Books! Caryl Rivers and Rosalind Barnett have a strong and important message. The tremendous progress made starting in the middle of the last century has stalled. Discrimination and sexism continue to hold women back in the workforce and the economy. This book contains convincing data that show this to be true, despite what we frequently hear from media, employers, and even other women. However, I dislike the phrase “New Soft War” and the authors’ battle cry comes across as too political for my taste. It’s just not clear enough who the ‘enemy’ is. The book is peppered with clichés, and I wasn’t always convinced that the authors weren’t employing some of the same biases as the studies and pundits they debunk. The uncorrected proof has quite a lot of errors that I trust will be fixed in the final publication. Overall, a nice companion to Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In.”

  6. 5 out of 5

    wade

    The authors of this book bring a great deal of evidence that women even if they are hired into companies at far greater rates than in years past are now suffering a different form of prejudice. This can range from being kept to a higher standard than men to being given jobs with a very high chance of failure. They also emphasize that women do not get the same help with mentors and support groups to back them up in difficult situations in corporations (buddy system). There is really not much her The authors of this book bring a great deal of evidence that women even if they are hired into companies at far greater rates than in years past are now suffering a different form of prejudice. This can range from being kept to a higher standard than men to being given jobs with a very high chance of failure. They also emphasize that women do not get the same help with mentors and support groups to back them up in difficult situations in corporations (buddy system). There is really not much here as far as solutions to change things but more of a warning to just never give up. The book is also weighted heavily toward women way up the corporate ladder as opposed to mid and lower level job holders.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Madeline

    This was a well structured, critical piece of writing. Rivers and Barnett are clearly two capable women that intend on challenging societal perceptions. The book read like an essay, with clear titles and structure. This enabled the authors to articulate their specific points, mostly with one area of focus per chapter. The segment on women and maths spoke particularly to me, as I have often harboured the preconceived notion that I must be terrible at maths because of my gender. This, however, is This was a well structured, critical piece of writing. Rivers and Barnett are clearly two capable women that intend on challenging societal perceptions. The book read like an essay, with clear titles and structure. This enabled the authors to articulate their specific points, mostly with one area of focus per chapter. The segment on women and maths spoke particularly to me, as I have often harboured the preconceived notion that I must be terrible at maths because of my gender. This, however, is not true. Many of the book's arguments steer away from emotive language and rely on scientific studies. This significantly bolstered the reliability of the statements made, and encouraged the reader to challenge concepts that are ingrained deeply within our psyche. Within the sections where personal testimonies were used, I felt cheapened the experience - only because the women were not introduced and lead me to believe they were 'throw away' comments without proper context. While the piece was clearly well researched, I felt the citing was poor. With a bibliography spanning over 21 pages this may seem like a difficult case to make; however, many bold statements were left unreferenced, with claims spanning from ancient traditions, to studies that were not given names or dates. Additionally, the authors should have opted for a clear perspective. At times, whilst giving personal perspectives, the writing jumped from third person to first person, without any warning or context. This was at times confusing, and came off a little clunky. My biggest gripe, and the reason I only rated the book 3 stars, was it's absence of data on women of colour, women with disabilities and women from low socioeconomic areas. These women no doubt face a harsher reality than white women, and the text seldom references this fact. This book is well worth a read, mainly because of its fantastic reliance on scientific data.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Gemini

    Just when you think you've taken two steps forward, you've actually taken one step back. That is basically how this book has been. Unfortunately it's a rude awakening on how things are actually going for women. Just when you think things have been progressing you get a smack in the face saying otherwise. It's a hard reality to come to terms with but it seems like this is what has been going on for many years. Although we have been making strides over the years & have done many things to get ahea Just when you think you've taken two steps forward, you've actually taken one step back. That is basically how this book has been. Unfortunately it's a rude awakening on how things are actually going for women. Just when you think things have been progressing you get a smack in the face saying otherwise. It's a hard reality to come to terms with but it seems like this is what has been going on for many years. Although we have been making strides over the years & have done many things to get ahead & have high powered positions it seems like there is more happening that is actually problematic & don't even realize. How are women supposed to deal w/ the good ole boys club that doesn't even allow for women to be able to get a seat at the table? Or how about that there aren't even boards that have women on them still, let alone women of color. Women are supposed to do it all, take care of family as well as there professional careers. Where men get a pass on many of these things, women get criticized, judged, & sometimes even fired for things that are minuscule mistakes. It's so disheartening to read some of the stories that women have endured & experienced in their lives. It is simply sickening, makes you wonder how our society has let this happen for so long. Being second class citizens has not changed & that's the worst part. Equal pay has been an uphill battle for a while. Even the ERA has not been passed to actually be something substantial to hold on to. Yeah this is a whopper of a book that makes you realize how tragic this topic is to overcome.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Lydia Shepard-kiser

    An overwhelming amount of data at times but a strong informational book. I could see this being one I refer back to.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    *won as a first reads giveaway on goodreads This was very interesting reading. At first, I didn't think anything in it would apply to me. I work as a public librarian - a middle management position in a field dominated by women - and this book seems directed toward high level executives in fields dominated by men. However, there were a few chapters that I found particularly eye-opening. "Chapter 3: Competent but Unlikeable?" - just the title speaks the truth. This is something that most working wom *won as a first reads giveaway on goodreads This was very interesting reading. At first, I didn't think anything in it would apply to me. I work as a public librarian - a middle management position in a field dominated by women - and this book seems directed toward high level executives in fields dominated by men. However, there were a few chapters that I found particularly eye-opening. "Chapter 3: Competent but Unlikeable?" - just the title speaks the truth. This is something that most working women have likely faced. We are often forced into situations in which we can get the work done and do it well while stepping on some toes, or we can try to make everyone feel good about everything we do and thus take twice as long and compromise so much that the work is not as good . . . A quote from one executive in the book, "I think [speaking up] turns supervisors off. I think that then you become the "trouble person." You become the thorn in the side and eventually they find reasons to say, 'Well, you know you're not working out as well as we said you were'." I agree heartily with this statement. No, you don't have to be mean to do good work - but you do have be direct and honest and ask hard questions, and when women do this, we are assumed to be "difficult" or worse, rather than doing our jobs. A balance is difficult, if not impossible, to find. "Chapter 7: Risk Takers, No; Caretakers, Yes" explained that we are naturally biased to assume that women will nurture others. When they do not, they are considered deficient. When they are caring, they receive no special accolades. It's considered natural. Men, on the other hand, are not expected to be nuturing and fuzzy - but when they are they get "bonus" points for their empathetic leadership. The most surprising thing, however, is that most business leaders, male and female, use the same strategies - neither men nor women are more nurturing leaders. However, our biases lead us to assume otherwise - giving more credit to men for acting "out of character." No, I'm not explaining any of this well. Read the book. Because of reading this title, when I hear stories now about women in the workplace, I have a broader understanding of many of the issues that may be occurring behind the scenes. This isn't to say that I endorse everything in the book. The authors go to great lengths debunking several media-pumped studies. However, the studies the authors themselves cite could very well have similar confirmation bias problems and small sample study issues. I think that any sociological studies should be taken with a large grain of salt, including the authors'. I also didn't think the solutions suggested at the end of the book were particularly helpful. The authors are strong proponents of government quotas. Meh. However, just because I don't agree with everything in the book doesn't mean that it isn't a worthwhile read. It gave me a stronger, broader, and deeper perspective of women's inequality in the workplace and a firmer belief that, yes, there is still inequality in the workplace, even today.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jacquelyn Fusco

    Excellent! Good balance of quantitative and qualitative data. I hope when it comes out, everyone is talking about this book! They do some intense debunking; it's awesome. It's like washing your face of all the misinformation that can settle from much of mainstream media. Much needed book, hopefully just in time! It seems to be extremely well-researched. Last year, I read Rivers & Barnett's 'Same Difference: How Gender Myths Are Hurting Our Relationships Our Children And Our Jobs' and it was phen Excellent! Good balance of quantitative and qualitative data. I hope when it comes out, everyone is talking about this book! They do some intense debunking; it's awesome. It's like washing your face of all the misinformation that can settle from much of mainstream media. Much needed book, hopefully just in time! It seems to be extremely well-researched. Last year, I read Rivers & Barnett's 'Same Difference: How Gender Myths Are Hurting Our Relationships Our Children And Our Jobs' and it was phenomenal, but I probably wouldn't have read 'Soft War' so soon if I hadn't received a copy via Goodreads Giveaways. I'm very glad I did. It's very timely and important. Today I saw that Hanna Rosin has declared Patriarchy dead. I immediately posted a link to this book. Rosin's claim couldn't be more false and it is a very damaging myth to spread. Rivers and Barnett will tell you exactly why.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Ari

    Hm. So first off. For a book so focused on gender, I find myself exceedingly frustrated with the interchangeable use of "male/female" and "man/woman." Sex and gender are not the same and as authors of a book that is remotely talking about gender, you should consistently use the correct words. Overall, it was an interesting book. I was left with a bad taste in my mouth after the last chapter because it seemed slightly "self help"-esque. I think I would have preferred if the final chapter was brief Hm. So first off. For a book so focused on gender, I find myself exceedingly frustrated with the interchangeable use of "male/female" and "man/woman." Sex and gender are not the same and as authors of a book that is remotely talking about gender, you should consistently use the correct words. Overall, it was an interesting book. I was left with a bad taste in my mouth after the last chapter because it seemed slightly "self help"-esque. I think I would have preferred if the final chapter was briefer and more global, I suppose - for lack of a better world (I'm having a hard time with words - falling asleep in public again - late night in the library). Not a bad book, though. It had some incredibly compelling insight at times.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Ryan Mishap

    Another no-nonsense take down of gender stereotypes, media blather, and consistent discrimination women face. This is essential reading, like Susan Faludi's BACKLASH a couple decades ago. Pair this with their SAME DIFFERENCE and DELUSIONS OF GENDER and you're set. I will say this: this book was heavily skewed toward corporate/professional women and, hence, mostly middle/upper class, and, hence that, mostly white. While we have the system we have everyone should be treated fairly and sexism, gende Another no-nonsense take down of gender stereotypes, media blather, and consistent discrimination women face. This is essential reading, like Susan Faludi's BACKLASH a couple decades ago. Pair this with their SAME DIFFERENCE and DELUSIONS OF GENDER and you're set. I will say this: this book was heavily skewed toward corporate/professional women and, hence, mostly middle/upper class, and, hence that, mostly white. While we have the system we have everyone should be treated fairly and sexism, gender discrimination, and the new soft war they describe should be understood and combated. Still, it is hard to cheer for getting more women in positions of corporate and government power as an anarchist, anti-capitalist when I want to see those systems replaced.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jen

    Good information. Breezy, non-academic writing on an incessant and opinionated mission. Too many easily-skipped anecdotes about, and quotes by, specific women (call Oprah) and too much about upper-level management positions (though it is generalizable to others). A fast read and overall worthwhile.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Thalarctos

    This book does explain how and why women are still discriminated against in the workplace and how there's a long way to go to reach equality. However, it then basically tells women to "try anyway" and offers little other guidance. I was hoping to find more advice on how to win this soft war. This book does explain how and why women are still discriminated against in the workplace and how there's a long way to go to reach equality. However, it then basically tells women to "try anyway" and offers little other guidance. I was hoping to find more advice on how to win this soft war.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Mary

    Really good information and factsthat confirms all those niggling feelings that something is not right in the workplace.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Mills College Library

    305.40973 R622 2013

  18. 4 out of 5

    Nick Pacheco

  19. 4 out of 5

    Folashade

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jessica Caitlin

  21. 4 out of 5

    Mumei

  22. 4 out of 5

    Francis Hernandez

  23. 4 out of 5

    Danielle

  24. 4 out of 5

    Liz Kraft

  25. 5 out of 5

    Karina

  26. 5 out of 5

    Olivia

  27. 5 out of 5

    Katherine

  28. 5 out of 5

    Madison Andrews

  29. 4 out of 5

    Emily Stanford

  30. 5 out of 5

    Mary

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