Must-read for Women’s History Month: What Works for Women at Work

Described as having “something approaching rock-star status” in her field, Joan C. Williams has played a central role in reshaping the debate on women’s advancement for the past quarter-century. Williams was awarded the American Bar Foundation’s Outstanding Scholar Award (2012), the ABA’s Margaret Brent Award for Women Lawyers of Achievement (2006), and an Outstanding Book Award for Unbending Gender: Why Family and Work Conflict and What to Do About It (2000).

Williams-Dempsey-webHer most recent book, co-authored with her daughter, What Works for Women at Work: Four Patterns Every Woman Should Know draws on interviews with 127 women at the top of their fields—an all-star list that includes Fortune 500 execs, entrepreneurs, and rainmakers at the world’s biggest law firms—to identify patterns of gender bias in the workplace. The result is a researched-based “how-to” manual for mastering office politics as a woman.

For Women’s History Month, we’re celebrating this groundbreaking work by taking a peek at some recent writings about the book—and tackling issues of gender bias at work in general—from around the web.

Here are three of our favorite passages.

From What works for (non-rich, non-white) women at work,” xoJane:

We have not come a long way, baby. Williams and Dempsey write that as of 2011, only 3.6 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs were women — 2 women of color, 16 white women, 17 men of color and 465 white men (“that’s one table of women in a room packed with 27 tables of men”). To cope, women can use the savvy outlined in What Works for Women…, which notes that the answer is not for women to hear more advice about why they don’t negotiate, but for organizations to start leveling the playing field for women so they’re not stigmatized for negotiating in the same ways that men do. Women should also remember to network and practice self-care — to do what we can, and no more. I took that advice when I left newspapers to start working for myself two years ago.

From “Outing Gender Bias,” strategy+business:

In their book, What Works for Women at Work: Four Patterns Working Women Need to Know (NYU Press, 2014), the authors explain that the “prove it again!” pattern requires women to demonstrate their competence repeatedly, far more often than men, because “information about men’s competence has more staying power than equivalent information about women.”

The authors use a 2007 FedEx ad to illustrate the “stolen idea” phenomena. Yes, the ad features men, but Williams and Dempsey report that 68 percent of the “67 women…roughly 40 to 60 years of age and at the top of their fields” interviewed for their book have experienced the same phenomena.

From “How Women Can Get Ahead at Work: A New Manual,” Forbes:

It’s a good thing that the authors have a sense of humor. Otherwise the book’s meticulous accounting of the many, often subtle forms of sexism in the workplace would be hard to take. But ultimately the tone of this book is quite hopeful. Despite its lengthy discussion of a tug of war between women in the workplace, it carries a unifying message with its blurb from Sheryl Sandberg and the book’s introduction by Princeton professor and former State Department official Anne-Marie Slaughter, who wrote a controversial Atlantic magazine article about how it is sometimes impossible for women to balance high-powered careers with the demands of motherhood. Though she and Sandberg have been portrayed as opponents in the discussion over women’s roles in the workplace, they unite in their support for this book’s message:  If we make ourselves and the men in our lives aware of the roadblocks women still face, and we use some of the many tools the authors offer in this volume, we are likely to see women move ahead more quickly. In fact I wish there were a way to interest men in reading this book. They would get the most out of it.

February theme of the month: Unconventional love

Has Valentine’s Day and its sappy accounts of saccharine romance got you down? Don’t worry–the folks at NYU Press are here to offer alternative accounts of love and relationships!

Michael Cobb takes on the idea of the relationship itself in his work Single, which examines the discourses surrounding “singleness” in film, art, theory, literature, and, through his analysis of HBO’s Big Love, even television. His provocative argument challenges the notion that being in a couple is required (or even desirable) for engaging with society, and offers an alternative perspective on being without a partner. Being single, it appears, might not be so bad after all.

But if you still have relationships on your mind, then you may want to check out David Shumway’s Modern Love, which traces the development of a new language of “intimacy” over the course of the twentieth century. Shumway theorizes that when marriage lost its institutional powers of controlling and distributing property, new conceptions of and ways of talking about love had to be attached to it–all of which can be squarely located in just about every Woody Allen film ever made. Tracing the shift in emphasis (but not mere replacement) from “romance” to “intimacy” through advice columns, self-help books, Hollywood screwball comedies, and a variety of other texts, Shumway offers a meditation on what it means to love in the modern age.

While Shumway offers an account for twentieth-century love, we might wonder: what does love in the twenty-first century look like? In Love and Empire, Felicity Amaya Schaeffer examines the oddities of cybermarriage and internet romance, particularly their roles in the relationship between Latin America and the United States. Tracking the global trajectory of the twenty-first-century commercialization of intimacy, Schaeffer finds Latin American women fashion themselves through the lens of the erotic to transform themselves into ideal citizens of both their home countries and the United States. These stories not only offer us glimpses into the relationships between contemporary individuals, but also a look at the convoluted relationship between Latin America and the United States.

Offering an alternative look at marriage and traditional concepts of love and intimacy is José Esteban Muñoz, who argues in Cruising Utopia that pragmatic, assimilationist concerns such as marriage only put a halt to the radical and future-bound agenda of the LGBTQ community. Through looking to the past and examining works in queer (and not so queer) archives, Muñoz paves a way to the radical and hopeful future, one where the newly-invigorated LGBTQ community can stop being stifled by pragmatic concerns of the present and instead continue on its radically future-bound course.

These works offer a starting point for books, events and articles we will highlight throughout the month. Look forward to updates here on our blog and our Tumblr!

Spring Staff Picks: Satisfaction Not Guaranteed

Name and role at the Press:
Trish Palao, Advertising and Direct Marketing Manager

Book selection, and why: Satisfaction Not Guaranteed

Every morning, at the specified time, my phone/camera/day planner/alarm clock wakes me up. A (mostly) reliable public transportation system gets me to and fro and, while I’m not home, my DVR records all my favorite shows for me to watch at my leisure. I can check in with relatives abroad and childhood friends I rarely see, listen to any song I want, and catch up on current events from the palm of my hand. Such modern day conveniences are amazing, attempting to fulfill one’s desire to lead an easy and happy life. And yet, for all the advantages these modern developments provide, one can still find a slew of problems with them. If I lose my phone, I also lose photos, calendars, and that intense session of Words with Friends. If I share photos on Facebook, I lose some of my privacy. If I use public transportation, I lose comfort. And what if my DVR records an episode I’ve already seen before?!? Sure, my life is certainly easier because of technology, but is it happier? And will it ever be?

It seems like we’re constantly on a quest to find the right formula for happiness. There’s even a United Nations Conference for Happiness. In Satisfaction Not Guaranteed, Peter N. Stearns takes a look at our pursuit of happiness, examining why the benefits of living in rich, urban, and industrial societies have proven to be less satisfying than we thought. Stearns asks why, if we live in a society of progress and abundance, are there more cases of depression and discontentment? He looks at examples from history and today to show how we can find the balance needed to deal with the dilemmas of modern life while seeking out happiness. This book may just be the thing to cheer me up after watching that rerun. 

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DO YOU have a favorite book from our spring catalog to add? If so, let us know by leaving a comment describing why it’s your pick. You could win a free copy of the book of your choice, and a feature on the blog!

Spring Staff Picks: Torah Queeries

Name and role at the Press: Ethan Ampel, Marketing/Publicity Assistant

Book selection, and why: Torah Queeries: Weekly Commentaries on the Hebrew Bible

I was raised in a family that practiced what could be called “reform Judaism,” but I like to refer to my childhood as “perform Judaism.” But I enjoyed it. The food was good and I loved to sing.

Then puberty arrived, and I realized two things: 1.) I was gay, and 2.) many of the questions I had were met with overly simplistic answers that seemed to discourage asking more. So I dropped the book. But then, just a few months ago, I went on a Birthright trip to Israel. I could write a whole movie about my experience there, but one moment in particular will stick with me forever. At the Wailing Wall, a Rabbi told us “Judaism is about questions. That’s why in rabbinical school you are always discouraged from studying alone. Other religions, you question and they say you don’t believe. But we are about always asking questions.”

Encouraging questions! Well, how ’bout that? Torah Queeries: Weekly Commentaries on the Hebrew Bible follows in the same vein of open-minded thought. What’s great about this book is that on the one hand, it’s very traditional—it maintains the customary practice of reading a specific portion of the Torah each week in accordance with the Jewish calendar. On the other hand, however, it explores the Torah from angles that can only really be described as, well, queer—and that word doesn’t just connote the incorporation of voices from the LGBT community, but the definitively 21st-century style that the book takes on in interpreting biblical stories for the modern world. Torah Queeries just might encourage even a lax, queer Jew like me to go beyond “performing” Judaism and take a stab at following the script(ure).

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DO YOU have a favorite book from our spring catalog to add? If so, let us know by leaving a comment describing why it’s your pick. You could win a free copy of the book of your choice, and a feature on the blog!

Spring Staff Picks: The Social Media Reader

Name and role at the Press: Betsy Steve, Publicist

Book selection: The Social Media Reader

It’s just a picture of a generic male college freshman that you’d likely find on a typical American campus, relaxing on the quad in a sweat shirt bearing his alma mater’s name listening to his iPod, maybe texting his roommate updates on where to meet for lunch. I imagine the picture was probably used in a UNH catalog or website promoting campus life. There’s really nothing remarkable about it or him, right? Wrong.

Known as “Uber Frosh,” this seemingly innocuous stock photo became one of the most popular memes to hit the internet.   Users raced to post their meme on sites like Reddit, Buzzfeed, Memebase and UpRoxx hoping to be the most hilarious, most liked, and critically, the most viral caption.  In a weird twenty-first century turn of events, “Uber Frosh” was unmasked as Griffin Kiritsy, an English major and reluctant campus celebrity in a UNH’s student newspaper cover story that instantly became another ferociously popular meme.  A meme within a meme.  Mind officially blown.


I’m just a little obsessed with memes—oh hell, I’m a lot obsessed—so when I got my hands on our new collection The Social Media Reader edited by Michael Mandiberg, I immediately flipped to “The Language of Internet Memes” by Patrick Davidson, a fascinating look at the history of memes (remember the Hamster Dance??) and their cultural significance.  Smart but also edgy dinner party conversation?  Check.  Next, I flipped  back to danah boyd’s essay “Participating in the Always-On Lifestyle,” and found myself nodding in agreement the entire time.  Like danah, I find it nearly impossible to not jump on Wikipedia in order to win an argument or hit up Google image when I need to put a face to a name.  Life without the internet, even for a day? 

Yeah, right.  

My bookmark currently sits at the halfway mark of Chris Anderson’s essay “A Long Tail,” the quintessential look at culture’s availability on the internet.  Other essays I can’t wait to read include “Remix: How Creativity Is Being Strangled by the Law” by Lawrence Lessig and Siva Vaidhyanathan’s “Open Source as Culture/Culture as Open Source.”  But the entire collection is well worth it, housing the foremost authorities on Web 2.0 under one roof.  And come on, how awesome is that cover?

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DO YOU have a favorite book from our spring catalog to add? If so, let us know by leaving a comment describing why it’s your pick. You could win a free copy of the book of your choice, and a feature on the blog!

Spring Staff Picks: Gay Dads

Name and role at the Press: Deborah Gershenowitz, Senior Editor

Book selection, and why: Gay Dads: Transitions to Adoptive Fatherhood

It hasn’t been easy for me to designate only one book as my “Spring Pick” – as an acquisitions editor dedicated to the production of new research and ideas, I’m overwhelmed by the wealth of riches that appears in our Spring 2012 catalog. But since I’m under orders to pick one and only one, I’ve selected Abbie E. Goldberg’s Gay Dads: Transitions to Adoptive Fatherhood. When I was ready to have children I worried about whether or not I’d be able to conceive, and, if successful, how well I’d be able to withstand the pain of childbirth and, after that, whether or not I’d be a good mother. These weren’t minor concerns, and I still worry about whether I’m a good enough mother (whatever that means). But I never, ever questioned or even thought about the relationship between biology, parenthood, and child-rearing because, as a straight, married woman and mother, I’m a heteronormative parent. From birth, my son and daughter legally belonged to my husband and me. We didn’t have to prove or defend our right to be parents – we simply were, because our children came from my egg and my husband’s sperm.

Not so for gay couples, who have to contend with a host of legal, social, and cultural issues when they become parents – questions that many straight couples never have to consider. How important is biology for the couple: will one partner turn to artificial reproductive technology, or will the couple adopt? If they adopt, will their sexuality adversely affect their chances of adoption? And if the couple isn’t married, how will legal parenthood be defined? Finally, how will notions of parenthood and sexuality intersect and change the lives of gay parents? Psychologist Goldberg addresses these questions and many more via in-depth interviews with 70 gay fathers, analyzing how they negotiate competing ideals of fatherhood and masculinity. More broadly, Goldberg illustrates how gay dads both shatter and accommodate heteronormative definitions of parenthood. With Goldberg’s research and future work that this book should inspire, it’s my hope that when we talk about parenthood, sexual normativities will be absent from the conversation.

[Full disclosure: Goldberg has not only written a terrific book; she teaches at my alma mater Clark University!]

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DO YOU have a favorite book from our spring catalog to add? If so, let us know by leaving a comment describing why it’s your pick. You could win a free copy of the book of your choice, and a feature on the blog!

Spring Staff Picks: The Bully Society

This week, two of our staff members chose The Bully Society: School Shootings and the Crisis of Bullying in America’s Schools, by Jessie Klein, as their spring book pick.

Name and role at the Press: Ciara McLaughlin, Assistant Editor

As a fairly taciturn person, I’ve been overshadowed my whole life by others who have loomed larger than me in the classroom, on the playground, and even next to my cubicle. I’ve also been mercilessly teased for wearing glasses, for being a geek, and for being shy. But just because I am diffident does not mean I am necessarily indifferent or deferential. I know many others who have had similar experiences, some of whom have suffered much worse fates (e.g. the suicides of Megan Meier, Ryan Halligan, Phoebe Prince, and Tyler Clementi, all as a result of extreme bullying).

The Bully Society by Jessie Klein issues an important wake up call to stop the cycle of bullies and school violence in America. She identifies a pattern that links valuing aggressive behavior as a society with the rising incidence of bullies and school violence. The Bully Society promises to be a landmark study of bullying with firsthand accounts of bullies’ perspectives while illuminating how gender constructs help perpetuate this cycle of aggression. Bullies try to live up to societal standards of “masculinity,” because masculinity is generally seen as a more forceful and more successful trait to possess than femininity, which is read as weaker and less advantageous. I am eager for The Bully Society to be published so that we can take stock of the dangerous, destructive behaviors and attitudes promoted in schools. It’s time to think about the ways in which we can reward sensitivity and shyness instead of aggression and competitiveness; it’s time to start reversing this horrifying national trend.

Name and role at the Press: Marcus Scott, Marketing Assistant

A recent post-noughties trending topic has been on the subject of school shootings and hounding in schoolyards—important issues, no doubt. These issues have also inspired the in-vogue “cyberbully chic” roundtable discussion fad that has sprung up over the last year. In her book, The Bully Society, Jessie Klein presents and analyzes the many issues fueling bullying in schools, including masculinity imperatives, white supremacy, gender policing (the pressure to conform to gender expectations), social class wars, gay bashing and slut bashing, and violence against girls. Klein also examines the cultural differences between the Old World (Britons) and the New World (Americans) in tackling the issue of bullying, whether it takes place in a schoolyard, on the Internet or at work.

Ditching the need for tired pop psychology profiling or placing blame on one particular party, the book goes beyond the hodgepodge academia fare. With a critical and compassionate eye, Klein recalls the 166 shootings that occurred between 1979 and 2009, using examples from the suicide manifestos of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold of the Columbine High School massacre, as well as those from Virginia Tech massacre gunman Cho Seung-Hui not as a means to exploit or condemn the shooters, but as an attempt to understand why they committed these acts of violence. More importantly, she hints at why this phenomenon is getting the attention it has gotten in the last year–more and more white children are taking their lives or the lives of others more frequently because of being bullied. In an age with films such as “Beautiful Boy” and “We Need To Talk About Kevin,” Klein provides a call to arms to impede school shootings, bullying and cyber-bullying at large, by asking the bigger question, where does this come from? In one word: profound.

Check out Klein’s compilation of data on nearly 200 school shootings, or visit the author’s website:

Want to learn more? Here’s a short list of recommended links:
Read: Girls Get Called “Slut” Everyday—They Could Be Making Friends Instead
Read: School shootings: Some Columbine myths resurface
Watch: Ohio school shooting: Jessie Klein speaks to CNN 
Listen: Bullying and violence (Jessie Klein on the Brian Lehrer show) 

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IF YOU have a favorite book from our spring catalog to add, then let us know by leaving a comment describing why it’s your pick. You could win a free copy of the book of your choice, and a feature on the blog!

Spring Staff Picks: Signifying Creator

Name and role at the Press:
Constance Grady, Editorial Assistant

It’s my firm belief that every English major who studied after Derrida and Lacan inflicted their theories on the world went one of two ways: they either came to despise semiotics with every fiber of their being, or else they became completely, nerdily fascinated by the whole concept. Guess which way I went?

The Signifying Creator is all about nontextual semiotics. (Depending on which kind of English major you were, the hair on the back of your neck just stood up either in dread or excitement.) Throw in some discussion of highly obscure ancient Jewish ways of meaning, and you have a completely fascinating account of how the People of the Book read the world outside of the Book.

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IF YOU have a favorite book from our spring catalog to add, then let us know by leaving a comment describing why it’s your pick. You could win a free copy of the book of your choice, and a feature on the blog!

Spring Staff Picks: Single: Arguments for the Uncoupled

Name and role at the Press: Margie Guerra, Assistant to the Director and Subsidiary Rights Administrator

Book selection, and why:  Single: Arguments for the Uncoupled

There are many reasons why I’m excited about Single: Arguments for the Uncoupled by Michael Cobb, but the main one has to do with Eleanor Rigby.  The Beatles don’t give us a whole lot of information about her in the song, just the vitals: Eleanor’s been known to (creepily) collect rice in churches where happy couples were just married.  When she died, nobody came to the funeral.  Oh, and she keeps her face “in a jar by the door.”  Is loneliness what drove Eleanor to be so odd?  How should I think about this strange lady? Why is Eleanor’s being alone both frightening and sad all at the same time?  (And will my face fall off if I’m single for too long?!)


In some ways, Michael Cobb’s Single is the antidote to those horrible feelings you get when listening to “Eleanor Rigby.”  In Single, Cobb aims to understand why singledom – that is, the state of being single – is perceived as a threat to the social fabric; why it’s thought of as a “problem” to be “solved” by entering into a couple.  (Anyone who has experienced the discomfort of being the “third wheel” has felt the ripple-effect of this sort of thinking.)  Cobb makes his case by deftly examining singleness in a wide range of literary, cultural, philosophical, andpsychoanalytical texts; he looks at work (textual and otherwise) by Plato, Freud, Ralph Ellison, Herman Melville, Virginia Woolf, Emily Dickinson, Morrissey, Georgia O’Keeffe, Hannah Arendt to the Bible, Sex and the CityBridget Jones’ Diary, Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It),” and HBO’s Big Love.  Cobb questions the “supremacy of the couple form,” and asks the reader to think about singles – in literature and in life, for Ms. Rigby and her real-life counterparts – as less menacing, less pathetic figures.

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IF YOU have a favorite book from our spring catalog to add, then let us know by leaving a comment describing why it’s your pick. You could win a free copy of the book of your choice, and a feature on the blog!

Spring Staff Picks: One Marriage Under God

Name and role at the Press: Tom Sullivan, Marketing Assistant

Book selection, and why: One Marriage Under God: The Campaign to Promote Marriage in America

As a gay dude, I’m always fascinated by both queer and heterosexual America’s rabid fascination with marriage. On one hand, the whole “’til death do us part” thing sounds kind of nice, but on the other hand it is a relatively archaic religious heterosexist construct that dates back to way before my time on this earth. Gross.

Taking the more radical queer approach, I always frame the marriage equality debate by questioning its relation to the term “equality” in the first place. Yes, it gives the queer community some rights, but what about workplace rights? What if folks don’t want to get married but still want the benefits that marriage provides? What about the T portion of the LGBT community? Does this really do anything for them? Clearly there is a lot to explore here, and I’m excited to see what Melanie Heath’s One Marriage Under God tells us about the raging marriage equality debate in America and its underlying significance in relation to the larger institution of marriage. It’s rare that we see a balanced ethnography of this hot topic, and given the lengths that she’s went with her research, this should be an interesting read. She’s taken her exploration off of the traditional battle front of queer vs. hetero and extended it even further, delving into marriage workshops and even high school marriage education to approach marriage equality–and the anxiety and controversy surrounding it–from a broader angle. Marriage education? That certainly wasn’t part of my New Jersey public school’s curriculum.

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IF YOU have a favorite book from our spring catalog to add, then let us know by leaving a comment describing why it’s your pick. You could win a free copy of the book of your choice, and a feature on the blog!

Spring Staff Picks: Class Unknown

Just one look at our Spring 2012 catalog and you’re likely to discover why we, as staff of NYU Press, are very eager and excited to send this beautiful crop of books out into the world. We! Are! Pumped! Seriously. (And not just for the vernal equinox.) To prove it, we asked colleagues from every department to choose one book that they’re most looking forward to publishing this spring, and describe why. Every week, we’ll debut a new staff pick (or two)!

We invite you to share your thoughts in comments — your own enthusiasm for our books, withering critiques of our choices, whatever you like. And… if you have a favorite book from our spring list to add, then let us know by leaving a comment describing why it’s your pick. You could win a free copy of the book of your choice, and a feature on the blog!

Kicking off our series is a pick from the lovely “MBJ,” who just might be the most outwardly enthusiastic about our books in general, so was the first (not surprisingly) to submit her choice.

Name and role at the Press: Mary Beth Jarrad, Sales and Marketing Director

Book selection, and why: Class Unknown: Undercover Investigations of American Work and Poverty from the Progressive Era to the Present

Although Jacob Riis is probably the most famous reporter of poverty, during the Progressive Era, in particular, there were many people who decided to go undercover, as it were, posing and living as poor people, to better understand and expose the horrors of poverty. Class Unknown chronicles the efforts of several generations of these middle class reformers, how they went about cloaking themselves, the types of things they found, and the experiences they brought back to their lives of privilege.

I love this book for several reasons: I love the earnestness of the reformers themselves; I love how resistant they find poverty to an easy solution; I love the horror they express at working class conditions. One reformer had to work so hard to make a living, working two jobs, long into the night, that she didn’t have any time to write up her findings and had to quit from exhaustion. Working-class living is difficult! The book makes a larger, serious point about poverty, about how all the good intentions in the world cannot fix such an intractable problem overnight, but Mark Pittenger includes stories and experiences of the reformers in a way that allows him to make a fairly depressing argument entertaining.

During this election season, with all the talk about helping working-class families, Class Unknown is a useful reminder that the issue of poverty is more complicated and long standing than it might seem.