REVIEWS FOR THE SOCS LIBRARY
Reviews are listed in alphabetical order by author of the reviewed text.
Bravo, Ellen. Taking on the Big Boys: Why Feminism is Good for Families, Business, and the Nation. Feminist Press at CUNY, 2007.
Reviewed by Nicole Tauro
"Taking On the Big Boys: Why Feminism is good for families, business and the nation" is a wonderful plethora of resources for women, feminists or not, who are preparing to enter or are already in the workforce. Better yet, the author Ellen Bravo's writing style even appeals to men while emphasizing the reasons that feminism is beneficial for families. As current director of 9to5, a national multiracial women's group focusing on such topics of pay equity, family leave and sexual harassment, Bravo offers her readers real life examples of how 9to5 is taking on the "Big Boys" regarding those issues that matter to all women, regardless of class, race, even ethnicity. When she speaks of the "Big Boys" she means those who have a real stake in maintaining gender discrimination and the ideology of women as weak, inferior and of less value to the workforce (giving the "Big Boys" a reason to pay less to women and pocket the profit).
"You need to decide whether you want to work here or whether you want to be a mom." Tina Orth, a 9to5 member, was told this by her office manager, and thus opens chapter 3 where Bravo raises the question for women - can you have a job and a life? She attempts to answer her question by way of myth (for example, all women have maternity leave), reality (the fine print to qualify for maternity leave), and feminist solutions. All in all, this book paints a clear picture that the workplace is still very much designed for men with stay at home wives. This eye-opening portrait, this book, contributes greatly to the overall topics of feminism, gender, and sexuality in the workplace.
Creedon, Pamela J. and Judith Cramer, eds. Women in Mass Communications. Sage 2007.
Reviewed by Megan DeMarco
June Nicholson of Virginia Commonwealth University writes a chapter of Women in Mass Communications about women in newspaper journalism since the 1990's. Nicholson writes that although there has been some, although slow, progress in the last decade, women in newsrooms are typically blocked from career advancement at a certain level, and women make up less than half of most newsrooms.
Nicholson attributes these problems to several factors, including the rigorous schedule of a reporter, leaving little to no time for a family, and male reluctancy to hire women past the job of managing editor.
One of the problems this creates is that newsrooms do not reflect the diverse populace they serve. This, according to Nicholson, is problematic financially, especially to an "industry soul-searching about its future."
I do disagree with Nicholson's assertion that men and women approach news differently. I feel that in one part of her article, she feminizes certain issues (education, human interest stories) and categorizes stories about crime and politics as the ones males typically prefer.
I also would have liked to see a short segment on LGBT journalists, in addition to the segment on women of color in newspaper journalism. The National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association (NLGJA) is group that is growing and becoming more influential in the media community and deserves attention.
Overall, I would recommend this article. It offers an illuminating insight into the problems faced by female media professionals.
Reviewed by Amanda Merced
"Women in Mass Communication (Third edition)" is a book that explores all aspects of the communication field with respect to the concerns of women. Although many of the chapters are technical and use quantitative data to support their claims, the information is extremely beneficial. No one reading the book needs a background in communication studies to understand that women are not accurately represented in the media and communication field. Chapter 9 in particular has to do with advertising. Advertising Women: Images, Audiences, and Advertisers delves into a world where men are still on top even though the field is employed largely by females.
The chapter touches on how women are portrayed in advertisements, how women control what ads are successful, and the statistics on how many women work in the industry. In addition to using quantitative data to support their claims, secondary sources by feminists such as Betty Friedan were used to strengthen the argument and the resultant opinion of the reader. However, the author did not presume that everything of importance had been said. The issues with advertising, in respect to women, are expansive and the author acknowledges that race and culture should be explored further.
Davis, Tom. Sacred Work: Planned Parenthood and its Clergy Alliances. Rutgers UP, 2006.
Reviewed by Caryn Monta
For my addition to the SOCS library, I chose the book Sacred Work: Planned Parenthood and its Clergy Alliances (Davis 2006). Davis' work discusses Planned Parenthood's work as acts of social justice, and therefore, sacred acts. Davis argues that religion is not inherently anti-woman/anti-feminist, and that Planned Parenthood is not necessarily anti-religion either. Through the use and analysis of Bible scriptures and historical accounts, Davis demonstrates the connections between feminist social justice and Christian tenets. For example, he uses the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden to show that man and woman were equal to each other before the Fall of man, and that the first sign of a world separated from God's divinity was the hierarchy of man over woman. He also discusses the alliance of Protestant and Jewish to woman's reproductive rights as a result of their deeper understanding of family planning due to their ability to marry (as opposed to the celibate Catholic Church's staunch opposition to contraception).
The theoretical issues surrounding abortion remain, as the question of what constitutes life is unresolved. Religious, philosophical, spiritual beliefs also play a part in determining whose choice controls the human body. The topic of this book could appeal to women who do not feel totally comfortable self-identifying as feminists because of their religious beliefs, as well as women who have an aversion to organized religion because of their feminist beliefs.
Reviewed by Kaitlyn Wojtowicz
Tom Davis, author of Sacred Work: Planned Parenthood and Its Clergy Alliances, does a wonderful of not only outlining the quest but as well as critiquing the work of Margaret Sanger in the early Twentieth Century. Davis does not place Sanger upon a pedestal from which she must be revered. While the author certainly does a wonderful job of praising Sanger for the work she did in recruiting the clergy and in be a radical proponent of contraception he does not withhold criticism for her faults. There is a great balance between praise and admiration and a revisionist assessment of her connections with the theory of eugenics. Davis acknowledges that Sanger was a product of her time as well as applauding her with her provocative and novel thinking in the realm of contraception and birth control. What it truly radical, that Davis does so well, is that he clearly marks out that birth control, thanks to Margaret Sanger, became not merely a moral issue, and then not merely a religious issue, but an issue of human rights as it is seen today. The fact that the chapter precludes with a quote from Martin Luther King Jr. given in 1966 is a direct example of this. Sanger was instrumental in making birth control and a woman's right to choose a fundamental human rights topic. Davis, in fact, does a wonderful job of pointing out her flaws, her wonderful traits and her ground-breaking work with the religious clergy of America in making this issue so.
Finlay, Barbara. George W. Bush and the War on Women. Zed 2006.
Reviewed by Jamie Saratella
Conclusions: Where Do We Go From Here?
The book, George W Bush and the War on Women, focuses on how the Bush Presidency has had a devastating effect on women both in the United States and throughout the world. The final chapter, "Conclusions," gives advice on how to alleviate the problems created by Bush. While the focus of this chapter is politics, specifically "Where do we go from here?" after the Bush Presidency, the advice offered can easily be used by women in the workplace. Working women have suffered under the Bush Presidency and need to take action. The three suggestions are as follows: pay attention, be involved, and never give up. These pieces of advice, which are further explained in the chapter, can be used by working women to advocate for themselves and others.
Fisher, Robert Leslie. Research Productivity of Scientists: How Gender, Organizational Culture, and the Problem Choice Process Influence the Productivity of Scientists. University Press of America 2005.
Reviewed by Heather Whitely
The selection approaches a new way of looking at the gender gap in the sciences. Fisher explores the different ways that women work in the sciences, their different approaches to sciences, different motivations for doing sciences, and different types of sciences they prefer to do. He also offers a critique of "productive" and "good" science as having traditionally masculine values, including competitiveness and rivalries. Fisher does extensive quantitative research comparing the types of sciences that men and women do, the organizational structure, the types of projects picked, and several other studies to demonstrate that the sort of science women are drawn to and the organizational structure of the sciences devalues and degrades the work of female scientists by compairing how many women are upper level professors, receive grants, and are assigned to be leader of science teams. This book provides and important reminder that when there is a gender gap in a profession, it is not enough to encourage girls to participate and it is unreasonable to assume girls do not participate because they do not have the mental ability. The solution of "fixing" girls to like science is a poor target when the problem is a system that will provide little opportunity for them. This book reminds us the gender gap is a symptom of gender inequality and that we do not need to change women's minds about science, but rather we need to reform how science thinks about women and their contributions.
Jones, Charisse and Kumea Shorter-Gooden. Shifting: Women and Politics in a Global World. Oxford UP 2006.
Reviewed by Ria Rodney
Charisse Jones and Kumea Shorter-Gooden address the concept of the racial divide in the workplace in the book Shifting. Chapter six, " Doing Double Duty: Black women in the world of work ", sheds light on many topics that are overlooked and often causes emotional harm as a result of white privilege. The authors highlight the struggles associated with not only being a woman, but being a black woman, and the challenges faced by interacting with her white counterparts.
Doing Double Duty uses interviews of black women in various settings to show that racism in addition to gender discrimination still exist even in the workplace. Unfortunately, issues of intersectionality are rarely addressed. These interviews explained that many black women felt as though they had to play various roles while at work and at home: many times black women feel the need to blend in at work then be themselves at home.
Doing Double Duty preconceived prejudices touches on everything from the stereotypes associated with black women's to preconceived ideas of fear and intimidation. The text gives a new meaning to the term diversity.
Sadker, David M. and Ellen S. Siber. Gender in the Classroom: Foundations, Skills, Methods and Strategies Across the Curriculum. Lawrence Erlbaum Assoc., 2006.
Reviewed by Stephanie Iwanicki
Chapter 3. " Teachers, Students, and Title IX: A Promise for Fairness."
This chapter provides valuable information to all educators on the importance of gender equality in schools for young girls as well as boys, through the concept of Title IX. It requires all educational institutions to maintain policies, practices, and programs that do not discriminate against anyone on the basis of sex. It is especially intended for girls and women in all educational institutions to receive equal opportunities and fair treatment in the classroom as well as in athletics. Since Title IX, women have been enrolled in more male dominated classes such as biology and chemistry and are even offered scholarships for athletics to be able to continue their education at a higher institution. Since women are getting more rights with this law, we assume it's always fair, right? Wrong! The main question being asked in the article is, "Why is the enforcement of such a basic equal educational right so weak," (78). The answer is there are no funds or federal support to pay for a coordinator that is responsible and fully trained. In order for this law to be successful, all educators must become knowledgeable in the area of gender equality in all aspects of education, including in the classroom as well as physical education. Sexual harassment and discrimination will not be tolerated or else funding may be taken away by the state.
As a future educator, it is important to make sure all extracurricular activities aren't geared towards a specific sex and that everyone is to be encouraged to be involved in activities that he or she may find interesting. Athletics, physical education classes and even classroom subjects and activities shouldn't be based on the gender of the child, but his or her desire to succeed to the best of their ability.
Reviewed by Nora Wentworth
Chapter 1. "Strong Women Teachers: Their Struggles and Strategies for Gender Equity."
Theresa McCormick, in "Strong Women Teachers: their struggles and strategies for gender equity," described the evolution of the education profession and how the currently female-dominated field intertwines with the feminisms of the past and of today. She proposed that the grave devaluation of teaching coincided with the growth of the common school in the 20 th century and the consequent demand for cheap educators. Women were able to work for less salary and their seemingly "natural" roles of mothers and of moral perpetuators fit perfectly with the job of teacher. Therefore, the sexism of the educational institution mirrored(s) the sexism inherent to the patriarchal society. McCormick also detailed ways in which feminist organizations, movements, and policies fought for pay equity, and eradicate sexist policies in education, such as not allowing women teachers to marry or take maternity leave. The chapter addressed the gaining of a male-centered education versus a restructuring of the education to be more inclusive, or the need for "transformational equity, not status quo equality." With such an extensive, yet concise, historical account of education and feminism, Chapter 1 proved an informative and inspiring article appreciative of the past, critical of today and hopeful of the future.
Sender, Katherine. Business, Not Politics: The Making of the Gay Market. Columbia UP, 2004.
Reviewed by Cassandra Hale
This article discussed the role of the "professional homosexual," which is defined by Sender as "openly GLBT people who work in professional-managerial status occupations and whose sexuality constitutes part of their professional expertise," in the realm of marketing to the gay market. Ultimately she supports the claim that professional homosexuals maximize what parts of their gay identity they can capitalize upon as expertise since marketing to the gay market is ultimately a practice in business and not activism. Sender explores ideas such as difference: should differences be turned into assets or normalized with straight culture, the role of binaries (ex: male or female, gay or straight) being present even in the gay media context, the intersection of class mobility with sexual orientation and gender identity, the intersections of queer orientation with other categorizations like race and gender; expertise: are gays like everyone else or experts on gayness, can heterosexuality be an advantage when selling gay ads within an, overall, conservative structure; employees: how they balance their expertise with their ostracization, creation of support groups within and across workplaces; and activists: the tension between the progressive nature of their work and the stigma of being associated with activism, how much of a role can activism play in advertising? The article explores opposing interpretations of the topics, but ultimately Sender's puts forth her opinion of what she feels is going on.