WOMEN OF THE YEAR: Great Changes, New Chances, Tough Choices

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    Radcliffe College, concluded that as a result of their childhood training and various social pressures of home and family, many women are hobbled by a fear of success—a learned fear that the risks of succeeding are "loss of femininity," loss of womanly identity. The "fear" is also quite practical—in the face of expected discrimination, a woman may decide that the effort to succeed is not worth it.

    Margaret Hennig and Anne Jardim, co-directors of the Simmons College graduate program in management, believe women's attitudes toward work are so different from men's that it is not surprising so few have risen to the top in many fields. Women, they have found, often view a job as something to be done competently and carefully. Indeed, women not uncommonly are such perfectionists that they get bogged down in detail. Females have been (or at least used to be) shaped by society to have no broad perspective of career, whereas men go after long-range goals and set priorities.

    "When a woman achieves," says Jardim, "the clear inference is that her home and family suffer. So it becomes a horrid psychological trick." But this happens only as long as the woman's feminine identity remains fundamentally rooted in marriage and home. As attitudes toward women's roles change, and especially as the young grow up with more expansive and varied expectations, that kind of crippling guilt will recede.

    Men's attitudes are shifting along with women's. The Harris survey found that 59% of men advocated greater opportunities for women. In some ways, the recession brought a kind of enforced enlightenment: husbands badly needed their wives'—or daughters'—paychecks to help support the family. Many men may still ask their oafish versions of Freud's infuriating question, "What does woman want?" But a surprising number of them have—guiltily perhaps—acknowledged the seriousness of women's complaints. While some advances have come because of women's push for equality or from affirmative-action programs, others have also resulted from a dawning recognition of the justice of women's demands for equal rights.

    In almost all areas—business, the professions, blue-collar work, education, politics, the family—a new sensibility among both men and women has led to more enlightenment—and a restless understanding of how far away sexual equality remains.

    BUSINESS: Inroads to Management

    At the top, business is almost wholly a men's club. In the 1,300 biggest U.S. companies, there are about 150 women directors v. about 20 five years ago. With rare exceptions, women have not risen as high as vice president in the big, old, basic industries, such as steel, autos, oil, railroads. Generally, women have done better in less tradition-bound fields: computers, communications and finance, though those who have climbed to vice presidencies tend to be in personnel, corporate relations and other ancillary areas.

    Yet worlds hitherto closed to women are opening. Increasingly, women are seen attending business conventions, sometimes with their husbands—when the spouse is invited. More and more women are becoming junior executives and sales representatives, positions that often lead to the top; roughly 12% of Xerox's traveling sales

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