Much-needed, frank talk from exceptional female leaders about how they’ve dealt with sexism in the line of duty.



Eight of the world’s most influential women talk about political double standards with Gillard, the former prime minister of Australia, and Okonjo-Iweala, the first female finance minister of Nigeria.

The authors begin this sobering look at female leaders’ progress—or lack thereof—by noting that only 57 of the 193 members of the United Nations have had a woman in their highest executive office, such as president or prime minister. Curious about gender biases, they interviewed an impressive all-star cast of power players who overcame sexism and sometimes other long odds: Michelle Bachelet was tortured by the Pinochet regime before becoming the first female president of Chile, and Joyce Banda and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf left abusive spouses en route to the presidencies of Malawi and Liberia. Drawing on academic studies as well as their interviews, the authors look beyond glass ceilings and explore hazards such as the “glass cliff,” the tendency of organizations to “embrace women’s leadership when they are in trouble,” as Britain’s Conservative Party did when it reached out after the Brexit vote to Theresa May, who looks back on the event here. Other women discuss a “glass labyrinth” of barriers, including that a woman must come across “as ‘man’ enough to do the job but feminine enough not to be viewed as unlikeable, or even held in contempt.” Hillary Clinton and Christine Lagarde, head of the European Central Bank, recall comments about their hair while prime ministers Erna Solberg of Norway and Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand acknowledge the vital roles of a partner and relatives in helping with family responsibilities. In an especially strong argument, the authors encourage candidates not to reinforce the stereotype that high-ranking women will necessarily create a gentler world. Throughout, each contributor is refreshingly open and candid about their experiences. The case for female leadership, they rightly note, is a moral one: People should see in leaders “a reflection of the full diversity of society.”

Much-needed, frank talk from exceptional female leaders about how they’ve dealt with sexism in the line of duty.

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-262-04574-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: MIT Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our...


A psychologist and Nobel Prize winner summarizes and synthesizes the recent decades of research on intuition and systematic thinking.

The author of several scholarly texts, Kahneman (Emeritus Psychology and Public Affairs/Princeton Univ.) now offers general readers not just the findings of psychological research but also a better understanding of how research questions arise and how scholars systematically frame and answer them. He begins with the distinction between System 1 and System 2 mental operations, the former referring to quick, automatic thought, the latter to more effortful, overt thinking. We rely heavily, writes, on System 1, resorting to the higher-energy System 2 only when we need or want to. Kahneman continually refers to System 2 as “lazy”: We don’t want to think rigorously about something. The author then explores the nuances of our two-system minds, showing how they perform in various situations. Psychological experiments have repeatedly revealed that our intuitions are generally wrong, that our assessments are based on biases and that our System 1 hates doubt and despises ambiguity. Kahneman largely avoids jargon; when he does use some (“heuristics,” for example), he argues that such terms really ought to join our everyday vocabulary. He reviews many fundamental concepts in psychology and statistics (regression to the mean, the narrative fallacy, the optimistic bias), showing how they relate to his overall concerns about how we think and why we make the decisions that we do. Some of the later chapters (dealing with risk-taking and statistics and probabilities) are denser than others (some readers may resent such demands on System 2!), but the passages that deal with the economic and political implications of the research are gripping.

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our minds.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-374-27563-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.


“Quality of life means more than just consumption”: Two MIT economists urge that a smarter, more politically aware economics be brought to bear on social issues.

It’s no secret, write Banerjee and Duflo (co-authors: Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way To Fight Global Poverty, 2011), that “we seem to have fallen on hard times.” Immigration, trade, inequality, and taxation problems present themselves daily, and they seem to be intractable. Economics can be put to use in figuring out these big-issue questions. Data can be adduced, for example, to answer the question of whether immigration tends to suppress wages. The answer: “There is no evidence low-skilled migration to rich countries drives wage and employment down for the natives.” In fact, it opens up opportunities for those natives by freeing them to look for better work. The problem becomes thornier when it comes to the matter of free trade; as the authors observe, “left-behind people live in left-behind places,” which explains why regional poverty descended on Appalachia when so many manufacturing jobs left for China in the age of globalism, leaving behind not just left-behind people but also people ripe for exploitation by nationalist politicians. The authors add, interestingly, that the same thing occurred in parts of Germany, Spain, and Norway that fell victim to the “China shock.” In what they call a “slightly technical aside,” they build a case for addressing trade issues not with trade wars but with consumption taxes: “It makes no sense to ask agricultural workers to lose their jobs just so steelworkers can keep theirs, which is what tariffs accomplish.” Policymakers might want to consider such counsel, especially when it is coupled with the observation that free trade benefits workers in poor countries but punishes workers in rich ones.

Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61039-950-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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