Updated with a new introduction by the author.
At the dawn of the 21st century, women in America are richer, more educated, and more powerful than before. So why is it, Estrich asks, that they account for a minuscule percentage of the nation's top executives, politicians, lawyers and professors? A "searing" report (Rocky Mountain News), filled with personal stories and startling statistics, Sex & Power dares to tell the truth about men and women, and how power is divided between them.
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How powerful are American women? To answer that question, Susan Estrich offers two facts: 99.94 percent of the CEOs and 97.3 percent of the top earners in America are men. Concerned about these numbers and the recent rise in women dropping out of the fast lane, or choosing not to enter at all, one of America's most powerful women has written a compelling argument for a restructuring of the workplace and a rallying cry to women to stand together for change. This is not a condemnation of male discrimination, however. Estrich believes that both men and women make unconsciously biased decisions based on socialization. (Most women, after all, are just as wary of ambitious women as men; hence the Hillary phenomenon.) No, Estrich's goal is to inspire. She reminds her readers repeatedly that American women actually have more access to power than any other group of women in the world (after all, they make 83 percent of consumer purchases and comprise 51 percent of the electorate)--but they need to choose to use it. She cites examples of remarkable things that have happened when only two or three women in positions of power have stood together. Imagine what America might look like if half the nation's leaders were women. Would the schools be better? Would video games be less violent? Would more doors be open to women returning to the workforce?
It is this latter group that Estrich is most concerned about. She uses her insider's perspective as a feminist lawyer, along with her access to presidents, ambassadors, editors, and other powerful people, to give both an objective and a personal history of women's struggles for equal rights. This openly frank discussion ranges from Supreme Court battles and feminists' own conflicting views to the thorny issue of sexual harassment (including the author's own role in the Paula Jones and Anita Hill cases). Estrich concludes that women (and men) don't just need equality, they need change. Mothers cannot compete in the workplace as currently designed, and despite so-called gender rules, the working world is still stacked against women. In a daring move, Estrich declares that "the debate has to move beyond questions of conscious discrimination, of who did what to whom, to the more important challenge of how we include everyone at the table." In other words, antidiscrimination laws should not simply end at intentional discrimination, but should actually encourage inclusion. That indeed will require finishing the feminist revolution, which is Estrich's greatest hope. --Lesley ReedAbout the Author:
The first woman president of the Harvard Law Review, the first woman to run a presidential campaign, Susan Estrich is the Robert Kingsley Professor of Law and Political Science at the University of Southern California, a nationally syndicated columnist, a contributor to USA Today and the Los Angeles Times, a legal and political analyst who appears frequently on national television, and the author of four books.
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