BOOKCASE: Damned if she Does, Damned if she Doesn’t

•Lynn Cronin and Howard Fine
• Footprint Books
• RRP: $42.62 (exc GST)

Women are still struggling in today’s business world, playing game with rules that work best for men, argue Lynn Cronin and Howard Fine.
The couple, who started out in the same business together only to see Fine’s career grow easily while Cronin’s dragged, wrote this book seeking answers as they watched their children head out to work. Lynn Cronin is now consultant for Fortune 500 companies, and Fine runs human resources consultancy.
Pay figures that show differences between salaries show only snapshot in time, they say. In fact, the longer one stays in the workforce, the greater the disparity in pay between men and women.
The pair say women are marginalised in team environments. They can’t win. Too easy-going and they are seen as weak; too vocal and they are ‘dominating’. “Most companies are still haunted by cultures in which employees are most comfortable when women are quietly supportive,” say the pair.
Women also miss out on mentoring and advocacy opportunities, waiting like the girls at the dance, to be asked, without the easy chemistry of business relationships between men.
The book also covers the paradoxes of women’s commitment to job while raising family, how they bond with co-workers and how they find it difficult to challenge the power structure.
Despite the issues, the writers are optimistic that all of us want gender parity – we just need to find solution, the gender-neutral corporate structure of what they call ‘co-ed’ company.
This is fascinating analysis of the issues that will appeal to both sexes, rather than guide with all the answers. However, senior managers will find considering the problem is already half of the answer.

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