Why So Slow? The Advancement of Women
by Virginia Valian
**Virginia Valian uses concepts and data from psychology, sociology, economics, and biology to explain the disparity in the professional advancement of men and women.**
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.
Valian’s goal 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.
### From Kirkus Reviews
A scholarly and convincing explanation of women’s slow progress in the professions. Whether in business, law, medicine, or academia, women are not advancing at the same rate as men. They’re not paid as well, they occupy less-powerful positions, and they are not as respected. In this copiously researched book, Valian (Psychology and Linguistics/Hunter Coll.) attempts to explain why. She argues that we all have unarticulated, often subconscious ideas about gender that affect both our behavior and, perhaps even more importantly, our evaluations of one another. For instance, we think men are logical, women are social; men are competent, women are flaky. As a result, men are consistently overrated and women underrated by coworkers, bosses–and themselves. The resulting advantages and disadvantages may be small, but they accrue over time to create large gaps in advancement. Valian reviews numerous studies, enlivens her material with personal anecdotes, and offers both personal and societal solutions. She looks not only at the workplace, but at its context–data on how girls and boys are raised and educated differently and the extremely inconclusive biological research on men and women’s “inherent” differences (she has a refreshingly balanced take on the latter, noting that there may be a few differences, but they don’t justify our discriminatory assumptions and practices). Throughout much of the book, Valian is in effect synthesizing the work of other researchers–but her take on the material, which draws richly on a linguist’s sensitivity to nuances of verbal exhcanges, is fresh, and it’s worth doing, since few readers will ever see the obscure studies she cites. Probably too academic in tone for most readers, but for anyone concerned about gender inequality–or perhaps even more importantly, readers who think they aren’t–it’s worth a look. — *Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.*
*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.
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