An optimistic solution to a complex problem.



How to recognize and overcome bias.

Professor and director of the Women and Public Policy Program at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, Bohnet, a behavioral economist, draws on extensive research to argue that gender equality can be accomplished in schools, businesses, and politics. Her goal, she writes, is to present a range of designs “that make it easier for our biased minds to get things right.” The book, which reads like a series of TED talks, is strongest in revealing unconscious forces that shape decision-making: the halo effect, for example, “when an initial positive impression of a person impacts how favorably the person is perceived”; the influence of gendered language in job ads, newsletters, and Web pages; and the power of believing that gender equality is a prevalent norm. “People are generally more likely to adopt a behavior if they know that most others are already doing it,” she writes. Bohnet has found that diversity training in businesses “has no relationship with the diversity of the workforce” but instead may promote moral licensing, “where people respond to having done something good by doing more of something bad.” More effective approaches teach people to “consider-the-opposite” (imagining oneself in another’s shoes) and imagine a “crowd-within” (asking themselves how a crowd would assess evidence). Bohnet’s designs for change underscore the need for transparency in interviewing, hiring, promotion, school policies, and government. She advises publicizing role models through such strategies as displaying portraits of women and minorities in public settings and by increasing “the fraction of counterstereotypical people in positions of leadership, through quotas or other means.” She sums up her advice in the acronym DESIGN: Data, Experiment, Signpost. “Do not focus on changing minds,” she cautions, but instead collect data, experiment with solutions, and create signposts that “nudge behavior toward more equality.”

An optimistic solution to a complex problem.

Pub Date: March 8, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-674-08903-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Belknap/Harvard Univ.

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.


Maya Angelou is a natural writer with an inordinate sense of life and she has written an exceptional autobiographical narrative which retrieves her first sixteen years from "the general darkness just beyond the great blinkers of childhood."

Her story is told in scenes, ineluctably moving scenes, from the time when she and her brother were sent by her fancy living parents to Stamps, Arkansas, and a grandmother who had the local Store. Displaced they were and "If growing up is painful for the Southern Black girl, being aware of her displacement is the rust on the razor that threatens the throat." But alternating with all the pain and terror (her rape at the age of eight when in St. Louis With her mother) and humiliation (a brief spell in the kitchen of a white woman who refused to remember her name) and fear (of a lynching—and the time they buried afflicted Uncle Willie under a blanket of vegetables) as well as all the unanswered and unanswerable questions, there are affirmative memories and moments: her charming brother Bailey; her own "unshakable God"; a revival meeting in a tent; her 8th grade graduation; and at the end, when she's sixteen, the birth of a baby. Times When as she says "It seemed that the peace of a day's ending was an assurance that the covenant God made with children, Negroes and the crippled was still in effect."

However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1969

ISBN: 0375507892

Page Count: 235

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1969

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A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.


Custer died for your sins. And so, this book would seem to suggest, did every other native victim of colonialism.

Inducing guilt in non-native readers would seem to be the guiding idea behind Dunbar-Ortiz’s (Emerita, Ethnic Studies/California State Univ., Hayward; Blood on the Border: A Memoir of the Contra War, 2005, etc.) survey, which is hardly a new strategy. Indeed, the author says little that hasn’t been said before, but she packs a trove of ideological assumptions into nearly every page. For one thing, while “Indian” isn’t bad, since “[i]ndigenous individuals and peoples in North America on the whole do not consider ‘Indian’ a slur,” “American” is due to the fact that it’s “blatantly imperialistic.” Just so, indigenous peoples were overwhelmed by a “colonialist settler-state” (the very language broadly applied to Israelis vis-à-vis the Palestinians today) and then “displaced to fragmented reservations and economically decimated”—after, that is, having been forced to live in “concentration camps.” Were he around today, Vine Deloria Jr., the always-indignant champion of bias-puncturing in defense of native history, would disavow such tidily packaged, ready-made, reflexive language. As it is, the readers who are likely to come to this book—undergraduates, mostly, in survey courses—probably won’t question Dunbar-Ortiz’s inaccurate assertion that the military phrase “in country” derives from the military phrase “Indian country” or her insistence that all Spanish people in the New World were “gold-obsessed.” Furthermore, most readers won’t likely know that some Ancestral Pueblo (for whom Dunbar-Ortiz uses the long-abandoned term “Anasazi”) sites show evidence of cannibalism and torture, which in turn points to the inconvenient fact that North America wasn’t entirely an Eden before the arrival of Europe.

A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8070-0040-3

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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