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The XX Factor: How the Rise of Working Women Has Created a Far Less Equal World Hardcover – 1 Oct 2013


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 393 pages
  • Publisher: Crown Publishing Group (NY) (Oct 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307590402
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307590404
  • Product Dimensions: 24.6 x 17 x 3.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,148,354 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By gerryg VINE VOICE on 8 May 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I heard Professor Wolf on Radio 4 recently to the effect that once various obvious factors are accounted for, inequality has been largely eliminated and that contrary to received wisdom, Scandinavia provides no shining example. Her views were not well received as I recall. And so I read this and I'm pleased that I did.

In so many ways it's a counterpart to The Intellectual Life of the British Working Classes in that it carefully demonstrates that today, the real sources of inequality are class and opportunity rather than whether one is male or female. Apparently it's as true in other countries as it is in the UK.

She lucidly and elegantly evidences that if one is poor then one is beyond highly likely (~90%) to be working in a stereotypical occupation. For professional occupations, with the exception of engineering, there is no such tendency.

The book does raise other seemingly unintended consequences of choice and opportunity for the professional classes including that they're not reproducing in sufficient quantities.

Two chapter titles worth quoting for controversy value if nothing else:

Goodbye to all that: the fracturing of sisterhood
The return of the servant classes

Whether or not it accords to your world view it's a great read dealing with bigger issues than the need for more women on bank notes.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By William Jordan on 14 May 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Wolf has an interesting and well argued thesis: the world has changed and for the top quintile of the population men and women lead similar lives. They go to the sane schools do the same jobs, work the same amounts, mate with the people from the same background and invest heavily in a small number of children born relatively late in life. They are also rich enough to hire servants drawn from the other 80 per cent of the population - female servants.

This is backed up with some heavy duty research - there are a lot of notes here - and it is both persuasive and surprising. We think life is not like this, says Wolf - because we read about the super rich for whom life is different again for women: more children younger and a life of administering the family properties. In this area there seems to be some elision in Wolf's thinking. She talks a good deal about family dynasties in politics in India and Pakistan and so and in big business of all kinds including Playboy. This presumably is not top quintile material - but is super rich. And in the historical sections, we hear about charity work, but also about running houses of ill repute and so in. Here too a clearer sense of who did what and why would be welcome.

Nonetheless I would recommend it strongly - not least for its explanation of the scruffy dress of academics. Apparently there's no need for display through clothes when your publications can do the job for you...
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Format: Paperback
The book is a rip-off: the title promises a book about "working women" but the book is exclusively about the wealthy and successful women of the top 1%. The perspective of the author is unbelievably narrow: She mistakes the rich women of her own acquaintance as representative of working women in general, or at least of educated professional women. But most educated women are neither rich nor influential and they certainly can't afford to hire nannies.

The author claims that women have achieved "near parity" and that elite professions are not gender segregated any more. That is simply wrong. In 2012, educated women earned 70 cents to the dollar of their male counterparts (see note *). 1 in 6 corporate board members are women and the number is stagnating. Women are still woefully underrepresented in the higher ranks of University faculty, and elite institutions are the worst. 20% of US Senators and 18% of House members are women and 5 women (10%) serve as state governor. "Near parity"?

No, most educated women are not even close to becoming rich and powerful, no, most of them do not resemble Alison Wolf's anecdotal elite, and yes, the gender gap is alive and well.

(*) Here are some data from the US that the author chose not to report (or probably didn't even bother to check - a lot of her "data" is anecdotal):

2012 median earnings of Americans by education and sex (US Census CPS, table P-20)

Bachelor's degree or higher:
Men $66,870; Women $46,713

PhD:
Men $96,909; Women $70,811

Professional degree:
Men $101,888; Women $76,052
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