Why So Slow?: The Advancement of Women

Why So Slow?: The Advancement of Women

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by Virginia Valian
     
 


"This is a very valuable book, as a resource, as a source of insight and understanding, and as a good read. It stands on the solid ground of social science research, yet opens that research up to the critical questions of gender and society."
-- Claude M. Steele, Lucie Sterns Professor of Psychology, Stanford University

Overview


"This is a very valuable book, as a resource, as a source of insight and understanding, and as a good read. It stands on the solid ground of social science research, yet opens that research up to the critical questions of gender and society."
-- Claude M. Steele, Lucie Sterns Professor of Psychology, Stanford University
Why do so few women occupy positions of power and prestige? Virginia Valian uses concepts and data from psychology, sociology, economics, and biology to explain the disparity in the professional advancement of men and women. According to Valian, men and women alike have implicit hypotheses about gender differences--gender schemas--that create small sex differences in characteristics, behaviors, perceptions, and evaluations of men and women. Those small imbalances accumulate to advantage men and disadvantage women. The most important consequence of gender schemas for professional life is that men tend to be overrated and women underrated.

Although most men and women in the professions sincerely hold egalitarian beliefs, those beliefs alone cannot guarantee impartial evaluation and treatment of others. Only by understanding how our perceptions are skewed by gender schemas can we begin to perceive ourselves and others accurately. Valian's goal in Why So Slow? is to make the invisible factors that retard women's progress visible so that fair treatment of men and women will be possible. The book makes its case with experimental and observational data from laboratory and field studies of children and adults, and with statistical documentation on men and women in the professions. The many anecdotal examples throughout provide a lively counterpoint.


Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Social psychologist Valian thinks that the Western world has gotten gender all wrong. "As social beings we tend to perceive the genders as alternatives to each other, as occupying opposite and contrasting ends of a continuum," she writes, "even though the sexes are not opposite but are much more alike than they are different." Indeed, despite nearly three decades of feminism, "gender schema"the assumption that masculine and feminine characteristics determine personality and abilitycontinue to influence the expectations and thinking of most Americans. Just about everyone, Valian writes, assumes that men are independent, task-oriented and assertive, while women are tagged as expressive and nurturing. As such, women lag behind in many professions and continue to do the lion's share of housework and child-rearing. Girls remain less attentive in math and science, while even women who attend medical school tend to steer themselves into "gender appropriate" slots such as family practice or pediatrics. Valian bases her findings on research conducted by social scientists in fields as disparate as psychology, education, sociology and economics, and the result is a work that is both scholarly and anecdotally rich. But it also posits concrete suggestions for changing the way we view the sexes, from stepped-up affirmative action programs, to timetables for rectifying gender-based valuations. Accessible and lively, Why So Slow? is a breakthrough in the discourse on gender and has great potential to move the women's movement to a new, more productive phase. (Jan.)
From the Publisher
" Why So Slow? is a breakthrough in the discourse on gender and has great potential to move the women"s movement to a new, more productive phase." Publisher"sWeekly

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780262220545
Publisher:
MIT Press
Publication date:
01/28/1998
Pages:
401
Product dimensions:
9.23(w) x 6.18(h) x 1.28(d)

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
" Why So Slow? is a breakthrough in the discourse on gender and has great potential to move the women"s movement to a new, more productive phase." Publisher"s Weekly

The MIT Press

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