Margaret Heffernan weaves the story of her own career among a series of letters from other women who have struggled to get to the top in business. Without apology, the book makes a case for women to involve emotions, integrity, family priorities and personal preferences in their work relationships. It is a compare and contrast of how the genders function at work and it makes a compelling case for business as usual to cease to exist. The book bashes the ‘good old boys’ club’ of the workplace while it gives encouragement and strategies that will embolden women to ask for raises and promotions or to quit a job rather than to be marginalized. By sharing the stories of how top women executives got there, the book exposes the culture of male business and then shatters the paradigm.
Heffernan describes four roles which characterize women at work and which should be avoided at all costs. No one wants to be known as a ‘geisha’ who uses provocative flirting and sexual innuendo to get ahead. But the alternatives aren’t any better. No woman wants to have a reputation as a ‘bitch.’ Being accepted as ‘one of the guys’ might seem a better option, but it discredits the feminine truth for too many hours each day to be tolerable. The last bad option is to operate extremely well from an invisible platform in the background so that no one recognizes or rewards the woman’s contributions.
This is a must-read book for women who want to succeed in business. Women who have had trouble negotiating their own raises and who have lost confidence in their career potential will find the book to be full of strategic and useful ideas. Perhaps the most important bit of information for these frustrated women will be to find that their situation is common. The book is also a must-read for men who work with, for, and over women. Here, at last, is the consciousness-raiser that may, at last, crack that glass ceiling.