WOMEN IN POWER by Dorothy W. Cantor


The Secrets of Leadership
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 Cantor (a New Jersey psychologist) and Bernay (Neuropsychiatric Institute/UCLA) interview 25 prominent female elected officials in an attempt to analyze what life experiences enable women leaders to succeed. The results are largely predictable--though possibly useful for parents with ambitions for their daughters. The authors' project was a challenging one--to identify the obstacles that stood in the way of this country's most successful female elected officials and to examine how those obstacles are best overcome. Unfortunately, the necessarily sanitized ``official stories'' of such movers and shakers as Texas Governor Ann Richards, Colorado Representative Pat Schroeder, and Maryland Senator Barbara Mikulsky, plus the brevity of the authors' interviews with their subjects (about an hour per subject, usually sandwiched between other pressing appointments in a busy schedule) seem unlikely sources of insight into what really makes today's women leaders tick. The result is a rather starry-eyed formula for success: ``Leadership'' = ``Competent Self'' (feeling of self- confidence) + ``Creative Aggression'' (ability to speak out and take initiative) + ``WomanPower'' (the determination and ability to make the world a better place). Strong mothers, admiring fathers, higher (and, often, all-female) education, and a supportive spouse all help encourage such qualities in women. Still, the study's failure to delve into the ways in which some of their subjects overcame an absence of such support--as well as its failure to compare the subjects' life experiences with those of unsuccessful women politicians and successful political men--leaves the source of women leaders' unusual confidence and drive largely a mystery. The foreword by Diane Feinstein and afterword by Geraldine Ferraro are likely to offer readers more insight into what makes a female leader, and may inspire more perceptive studies in the future.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1992
ISBN: 0-395-53755-X
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 1992


NonfictionTHINK by Lisa Bloom
by Lisa Bloom