WALKING OUT ON THE BOYS by Frances K. Conley


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 A forthright behind-the-scenes account of the circumstances surrounding Conley's resignation as a tenured full professor of neurosurgery at the Stanford University School of Medicine in 1991. The author gained instant media attention by going public with the grievance that had caused her to act: sexism--or as she put it, ``I am minus the appropriate gender identification that permits full membership in the club.'' According to Conley, although more women than ever are now enrolled in medical school, an old (male) guard still makes the rules, creating a climate in which sexual harassment and gender discrimination are rife. Conley's career had nonetheless flourished for as long as Dr. John Hanberry was Stanford's chair of neurosurgery. But when Hanberry left in 1989 and Dean Korn of the medical school appointed her colleague Dr. Gerry Silverberg as acting chair, she soon found Silverberg's ``arrogance, his boasting, and overt sexism intolerable.'' Following her highly publicized departure, Conley received a strangely belated education in feminist issues from the women's movement. While the more personal chronicle of her feminist awakening has merit, the larger, more important story is really about discrimination in academic medicine. Those with a taste for intrigue will relish the details of the political maneuverings of all parties--Conley, her lawyer, Korn, Silverberg, and the associate dean who had been asked to hold investigative hearings about Silverberg's behavior. There is no happy ending. For although Conley eventually withdrew her resignation, and though Silverberg did not after all become department chair, the reforms that would have given equality to women in medicine did not take place--and Conley lives knowing that she'll never truly ``belong'' to the central ranks of her profession. Conley freely admits to being opinionated, outspoken, self- confident, and painfully blunt. All these trains are fully expressed in this revealing account.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-374-28621-3
Page count: 240pp
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 1998


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