Saturday, July 04, 2009

Why So Slow? The Advancement of Women

Why So Slow? The Advancement of Women
by Virginia Valian
421 pages
Publisher: The MIT Press (February 5, 1999)

  • Author (x)
    • Virginia Valian: Professor of Psychology and Linguistics at CUNY Graduate School and Hunter College, specializing in "cognitive psychology, especially language acquisition"
  • Perspective: Raised to believe success would come with hard work and that true, valid arguments would win the day, Valian began to notice subtle, even negligible, differences in how lower status persons were treated in discussion. After reading a monograph by Geis, Carter, and Butler, she began to see how the accumulation of subtle discrimination slowed movement from lower to higher status in academe and beyond. Therefore, her book is for her as much as for her readers.
  • Organization of the Book: Following a preface by the author, laying out the biographical context for the work, and a Note on Method and Scope, are fourteen chapters. The Table of Contents shows no groupings.
    • Chapter 1 previews and overviews the subject of gender differences.
    • Chapters 2-3 cover biological and developmental issues.
    • Chapters 4-5 show the limits of hormonal explanations of sex differences.
    • Chapter 6 offers a cognitive explanation for gender schemas.
    • Chapter 7 shows gender schemas at work among adult men and women in their mutual misperceptions fo reality.
    • Chapter 8 shows how accumulated expectations shape our view of self.
    • Chapter 9 shows how they shape our interpretations of success and failure.
    • Chapter 10 shows how gender schemas dlow down earnings and/or advancement for women in the professions and Chapter 11 shows the same for women in academia.
    • Chapter 12 considers the issue of whether inequality is inequity and concludes that it is not inequity and that "attaining a happy medium...requires changing gender schemas" (276).
    • Chapter 13 reviews legal remedies, citing and describing various cases, and Chapter 14 suggests remedies "to nullify the negative professional consequences of gender schemas and to equalize men's and women's ability to accumulae advantage" (303).
  • Intention (xii; 1)
    • to clarify the subtleties of gender schemas
    • to increase awareness of gender schema
    • to instill sufficient outrage while not taking it personally
    • to lay out the merits of the case
    • to "make the invisible...that fair and accurate evaluations of men and women will become possible" (i)
    • to include data from psychology, sociology, economics, and biology


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