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Strategies for Achieving Career Success

Competing in a male world

This book, aimed at senior women in male-dominated fields, is useful but limited. It regrets the status quo, but doesn't challenge it, says Wanda Goldwag, non-executive chair of True North Human Capital.

Beyond the Boys' Club - Strategies for Achieving Career Success as a Woman Author: Suzanne Doyle-Morris Publisher: Wit and Wisdom Press Price: pounds 13.99 Stars: 3

The role of senior women has never been more topical with many commentators believing if there had been more women in senior roles in major banks there would have been less testosterone led risk-taking and so far fewer bank failures. This book doesn't address that issue but instead provides women with advice on how - while accepting the norms - they can self-promote, network and play the game to their advantage.

Beyond the Boys' Club takes the experiences of 21 senior women whom the author interviewed over 18 months and attempts to distil the lessons they learned. All of them worked in traditional, male-dominated industries such as engineering, IT and scientific academia.

The book addresses women's tendency to assume that if they simply do a good job they will automatically be recognised for their excellent work and be given interesting projects and then later promotion. Doyle-Morris makes it clear this is not the case. Men, she says, talk about their successes, promote themselves and their work relentlessly and, even when producing work of inferior quality, create the illusion of success.

Many of Doyle-Morris's observations are excellent: 'No one will ever care more about your career as much as you do' and 'acting bloke-ish is not credible, sustainable or even desirable in the long run,' she says.

There is also excellent advice about the importance of being able to present yourself well, network assiduously and on how to use mentors and coaches. And there is an amusing section on the very serious issue of what to wear and when, given that, according to research from Princeton University, people evaluate others in the first one tenth of a second of their initial meeting - before they have even spoken.

If I were a young women starting out in a male-dominated field today I would find this book helpful and in some ways re-assuring in explaining to me that I can compete in a male world without pretending to be a man But what is disappointing is that although the status quo is regretted it is not challenged. As a non executive-chair of a number of companies I find it sad there is almost no discussion of alternative models to create the successful new leadership of modern businesses.

Human Resources May 2010
 
 
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Wanda Goldwag consulting picture
Wanda Goldwag consulting picture
Wanda Goldwag consulting picture
Wanda Goldwag consulting picture
Wanda Goldwag Consultancy picture
Wanda Goldwag Consultancy picture