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What Works for Women at Work: Four Patterns Working Women Need to Know by Joan C. Williams and Rachel Dempsey

Title: What Works for Women at Work: Four Patterns Working Women Need to Know
Author: Joan C. Williams and Rachel Dempsey
Publisher: New York University Press
Publication Date: January 17, 2014
ISBN: 9781479835454
Number of Pages: 394
How I Got It: NetGalley
Format: Kindle


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 C. Williams is Distinguished Professor and Director of the Center for WorkLife Law at the University of California, Hastings College of Law. Her books include Unbending Gender: Why Work and Family Conflict and What to Do About It and Reshaping the Work-Family Debate: Why Men and Class Matter.

Rachel Dempsey is a writer and student at Yale University’s School of Law. Her work has appeared online in publications such as The Huffington Post and Psychology Today, among others.
My Review:
This book is a great addition to "Lean In" and covers aspects other books such as "The Feminine Mystique" missed. For example:
"The women who were interviewed for this book, represent a wide range of ages, ethnicities, ad backgrounds. Joan C. Williams interviewed 67 women for The New Girls' Network. These women were roughly 40 to 60 years of age and at the top of their fields. They worked in business, medicine, academia, government, and the legal profession. Three ran their own businesses. Eleven identified themselves as women of color, specifically as black (or African American), Latina, and Asian (or Asian American). The interviews were conducted over the phone between June 2, 2010, and November 6, 2012."

"For the National Science Foundation Project, 60 women-of-color scientists were interviewed by Erika R. Hall, a PhD candidate at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. The scientists interviewed represent a variety of scientific disciplines Most of the women worked in academic settings. They identified as black (or African American), Latina, and Asian (or Asian American). These women were roughly 30 to 60 years of age. The interviews were conducted over the phone between June 4, 2012, and October 5, 2012."
With a foreword by Anne-Marie Slaughter, Williams and Dempsey identify four patterns of behavior that create the primary obstacles to women's advancement to leadership positions across every industry:

  1. Prove-It-Again!
  2. The Tightrope
  3. The Maternal Wall
  4. Tug of War
After detailing these four behavior patterns, the authors give readers great section such as BADASS WOMEN WHO BROKE THE RULES, options for how to respond to various situations, and how to protect your rights. 

** I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review **

Susan Jane Gilman Interview at Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta

I attended the Susan Jane Gilman book talk at the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta a few weeks ago and (if it is possible) grew to love Gilman even more. Her intelligence, humor, and determination are sure to keep her on best-seller (and my personal favorites) lists for years to come.  Here are some of the best parts of her interview with journalist Melissa Long:

SJG's previous releases:

As a child, SJG created her own imprint and made her own books out of Woolworth's notebooks, the top half of each page was the story and the bottom half was an illustration. When she was writing a feminist humor column she asked herself, "How do we talk back to a culture that tells us to live 'The Rules', consume 1200 calories a day, and be fake?" So she wrote "Kiss My Tiara." Then she set out to write The Great American Novel but September 11 happened and everyone wanted short stories and humor. She started collecting stories and published "Hypocrite in a White Pouffy Dress." Next she traveled to China and thought she would write a book like "Eat, Pray, Love" or "Under the Tuscan Sun", but found that "travel is not about conquering, it's about surrendering." Her experiences of being over her head on the other side of the world is told in "Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven."

The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street

Inspired by the backstories of Tom Carvel, Haagen-Das, and Ben and Jerry and recognizing that "we haven't had a lot of female anti-heroes in literature" SJG created Lillian Dunkle by drawing from Paula Deen, Martha Stewart, and Scarlett O'Hara. Noting that "Scarlett is beautiful and she uses that. What if I take that away?" SJG very deliberately wrote a woman who is 75 years old so she could show the quest for youth and that women get tougher as they get older.


SJG worked at Carvel and traveled to Italy to make gelato (tough research!)

Her High School English Teacher:

Like so many writers, SJG's high school English teacher believed in her and pushed her to write. Maintaining a correspondence as she continued publishing, he contacted her to send her a little bit of his galleys to read. Something called "Angela's Ashes." Yes, her high school teacher was Frank McCourt!


SJG: "I don't read Amazon and Goodreads reviews. The approval of your parents and your hometown paper are not important to me....but Oprah's accolades were pretty good."

Writing Environment:

SJG: "I need a sensory deprivation tank to write. Not at a Starbucks."


SJG: "I'm a damn good writer. But my first draft isn't as good as my fourth draft."

Hachette Embargo:

SJG: "Amazon is controlling the intellectual and literary access of a nation."

Favorite Ice Cream Flavors:

Mint Chocolate Chip and Chocolate (Mine, too!!)

Book Recommendations:

The Orphanmaster's Son and The Goldfinch

Read my review of "The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street" here

***All quotes are taken from my handwritten notes and may differ slightly from original spoken statements. However, I did my absolute best to stay true to the interview***

Review & Giveaway: The Paragraph Ranch by Kay Ellington and Barbara Brannon

Title: The Paragraph Ranch
Author: Kay Ellington and Barbara Brannon
Publisher: Booktrope
Publication Date: August 29, 2014
ISBN:  9781620154618
Number of Pages: 266
How I Got It: Direct from author
Format: paperback

EVERY WRITER KNOWS YOU CAN’T GO HOME AGAIN. But that's just what is required of West Texas expatriate Dee Bennett-Kaufmann when her mother is badly injured in a mysterious car accident. Single-again “Dr. Dee” has never been on the “A-team” in her trendy East Coast MFA program. When a prestigious summer fellowship gives her the chance to finally finish her book, salvage her career, and spend some quality time with her college-age daughter — Dee's certain her luck is about to change. Returning to care for her irascible, widowed mother threatens all of that. With so much at stake, Dee engineers a series of unorthodox strategies and creative trade-offs to keep her options in play—and despite herself finds friendship, love, and the power of words in the unlikeliest of places.

My Review:
From the first sentence of this book I was transported to dusty Texas farms and technologically barren landscapes. Dee Bennett and her siblings must decide who will care for their newly injured, headstrong mother. Her brother, a football coach, is in the middle of his coaching season. Her sister, a real estate agent, is in the middle of planning her daughter's wedding. Dee, a college professor, has just been granted a fellowship so she can finish her book. With everyone claiming to be too busy to take time to help their mother, the siblings leave all the responsibility for their mother's care and the farm's upkeep up to Dee. Now in a bind as to how she can make it to her fellowship, she uses her time at the farm to work on the novel as well as sort out her relationships with her ex-husband, boyfriend, daughter, siblings, and her cranky mother. She also barters her services as a writing professor with the town librarian and starts a writing club. This story of a southern summer on a Texas farm was a fun read. If I had to complain about anything, I would only say that I wish it was longer.

** I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review **

Six Questions with Author Sally Wiener Grotta

I'm so excited to feature an interview with Sally Wiener Grotta today! She talks about editing, story creation, the power of names, and of course: "The Winter Boy."  Be sure to enter the giveaway in my sidebar to win your own signed copy and let me know what you think of this interview in the comment section below.

Six Questions with Author Sally Wiener Grotta

Q1:  What is your writing routine?

A1:  Whenever possible, I try to devote my mornings to writing, though life often intervenes. 
The first draft of any novel or short story is me telling myself a story, listening carefully to the characters who become my constant companions. I am often surprised by a plot twist or sudden veering within the dialog, but I hold tight and enjoy the ride.

In the second draft, I start to take control over the story and the characters. Often, this is when I introduce sharper, more delineated tension, and fill out the details that give depth.

In the third draft – well, I usually lose count of the number of rewrites; it’s often in the dozens, if not scores. I work and rework the prose and plot, sculpting the personalities and histories, refining and polishing the story, while making sure every word I use is the one I really meant. Writers are often divided into two camps: those who struggle with rewrites and those who love the challenge and satisfaction of rewriting. I’m definitely in the latter camp.

After I’m finished with the nth draft and feel it’s ready, I turn it over to my editor, who will mark it up unrelentingly. I’ve been very lucky in my editors over the years, and have learned to depend on them to help me make sure that any of my work that is published is something we’ll both be very proud of.

Then I take it back and rework through several more drafts, after which I return it to the editor and then the copy editor. Back and forth we go until we’re satisfied.

The entire process can take years. And when it is over, there’s a hole in my heart where those characters had lived with me every moment of my days and nights. I’ve learned that I must have another story ready to work on right away, or I suffer from author’s postpartum depression. That’s one of the reasons I always have more than one story in various stages. Well, and the fact that I can’t help myself. When a story takes hold of me, I have to write it.

Q2:  How did you come up with all the different names for your characters and the concept of multiple names for each character?

A2:  When a character is born in my mind, he or she has a name, a history and a problem or problems. Like Athena born from Zeus’s head, the individuals are – to me – fully formed, flesh-and-blood, with personal faults and foibles, and something special that catches and holds my attention for the years it takes to tell their stories.

Their names are as much a part of them as their eye color or the sound of their voices. I don’t so much make up their names as hear the sound of them, feel how they shape the individuals who carry them. The names help define them for me.

I had one crisis with naming. A key character in The Winter Boy originally introduced herself to me as Niv. It was a good strong name for a very strong character. I had never heard of the name and thought it belonged to the world of my imagination. Then my niece married a man named Niv. He assured me that it didn’t bother him to have a sharp tongued, though brilliant woman with his name in my novel. But when they had two wonderful boys, I just couldn’t accept the idea that they might grow up thinking I had meant to insult their father with this character. So, I had to rename her.

But Niv was her name. It was who she was. Just as I am Sally, and you are Rhiannon. What’s more, another important character had given her the derogatory nickname of “Knife,” and that was something I wasn’t willing to give up.

Eventually, I renamed her Kiv, as a compromise. However, when I do public readings from The Winter Boy, I have to watch myself that I don’t accidentally use her “real” name – Niv.

And that takes me to the other part of your question… the multiple names in The Winter Boy. Throughout human history, naming has been a symbol of power, of acceptance, of transition and of initiation. For instance, in “primitive” tribes everywhere in the world, the rite of passage from childhood to adult is often marked by the giving of a new name to represent the new person the child must become. Some tribes give two names: a public one that may be used by strangers, and another that is shared only with fellow “insiders” (which may be other members of the village, or age-group peers, or other such exclusive division).

But we don’t have to look at exotic rituals to recognize similar name changes. In traditional weddings, the bride takes the groom’s family name. Why? Because it was a symbol of her new allegiance and acceptance to the new family (and away from her own, supposedly).

How many different names have you had? I can count at least a dozen in my life. Childhood nicknames, a mother’s term of endearment, a father’s tease that becomes a name shared only with him, the names girlfriends use or lovers. Currently, depending on who I’m with, I’m Sally, Sally Wiener Grotta, Sally Grotta, Mrs. Grotta, Ms. Wiener, Sal – all representing a different aspect of who I am and how I’m perceived. Plus there are those names that special people use for me that I don’t care to disclose.

The society of The Winter Boy is built on the interlocking circles of highly personal relationships. Given how important the bonds created within these relationships are to the very foundation of the civilization, it is natural that they would use the power and intimacy of naming to solidify them. As the Storyteller from Ryl/Dov’s village taught him, “Relationships define us. Important bonds and pacts change us. And the names we share within the privacy of those relationships represent this, sealing us to the ‘other.’”

Q3:  Who are some of your favorite authors / works and what books inspired you to create the world of the Alleshi, Birani, and Mwertik?

A3:  I can’t think of any that had a direct link to it. The world, people and story of The Winter Boy sprang from my mind after a lifetime of literary, social, political and personal influences, but none of them inspired the specifics of my creation. Instead, I considered, absorbed, digested and synthesized ideas from all of them – and from everything and everyone I have encountered.

Of course, I’m a voracious reader, as any author is, and I have been influenced and inspired by a multitude of authors in terms of the sound of beautiful prose, the rhythm of great dialog, meaningful character development, passion for social issues and such. Some of my favorite authors are Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Ursula K. LeGuin, Daniel Grotta, Margaret Atwood, George Orwell, William Shakespeare, Socrates, Robert Heinlein… and a whole slew of others.

Q4:  Do you consider “The Winter Boy” a feminist work?

A4:  Yes, in all the positive meanings of that categorization. The Winter Boy is set in a society built by women who are fully empowered, but who also work as equals and partners with men. Together, they strive to govern their world with equanimity and intelligence.

Feminism to me is humanism, an essential acknowledgement of every individual regardless of gender. In some novels, many films and other pop culture outlets, characters (especially woman) are often “placeholders,” stick figures meant to represent an idea (often a sexual object). In The Winter Boy, the women are as fully imagined as the men, so that they can do ill as well as good, be frail or even evil as well as strong or righteous. They have a history that affects how they function, and a future that they can choose to have a hand in influencing.

Q5:  Ryl’s younger “brother” may have been saved/abducted from a Mwertik raid but we don’t find out in this book. Do readers find out more about him in the next book?

A5:  Yes, definitely, but I’m not going to spoil the surprise by revealing anything further about him quite yet.

Q6:  What other characters will be in the next book? 

A6:  The next book set in the Alleshine world will be Sex Witch, and most of the story will take place beyond the Valley of the Alleshi. Rishana/Tayar and Ryl/Dov will definitely feature in it. They will encounter Kiv and the Mwertiks, with some narrative and dialog from those “other” points of view. Lilla, Ryl’s former fiancĂ©, isn’t a woman a man can simply put aside; she will have a pivotal role in the story. Of the Alleman we’ve briefly met in The Winter Boy, we’ll get to know Mistral, Tedrac and Eli, as well as Ryl’s triats Aidan and Sim.

However, while I plan other books in this series, I intend to have each one be able to stand on its own. That way, whatever Alleshine book you would pick up first will be a good entré into this world.

Other books I plan to write in this world include Kaith’s Song, which will look back into the old caretaker’s youth and how she came to The Valley, and The Inn at the Crossroads, in which the Mwertik will take center stage for a good portion of the story.

But I also have novels in various stages of development that aren’t part of this world. As I said, I can’t help myself.