Who Says It’s a Man’s World: A book review by Bob Morris

Who Says It'sWho Says It’s a Man’s World: The Girls’ Guide to Corporate Domination
Emily Bennington
AMACOM (2013)

A brilliant response to this question: “What does it take for women to win at the highest level?”

As I began to read this book, I was again reminded of one of my favorite scenes from “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” when Mary Richards (MTM) is being interviewed by Lou Grant (Ed Asner), manager of TV station WJM, who observes, “You know, Mary, you have spunk.” She thanks him. “I hate spunk!” Well, Grant may but I do not. Nor does Emily Bennington as she aggressively challenges the remarkably durable male dominance of the U.S. corporate world despite the fact that women have an increasing greater impact on the economy. These are among the most recent statistics of which I am aware concerning that impact in the United States:

$ Female consumers control 85 percent of all purchase decisions, responsible for more than $7 trillion in spending.
$ Women control about 80% of household spending.
$ Companies with the highest representation of women board members attain significantly higher financial performance than those with the lowest representation: 5 $ $ 3% higher Return on Equity; 42% higher Return on Sales; and 66% higher Return on Invested Capital.
$ In the U.S., about 10.4 million firms are owned by women (50% or more), employing more than 12.9 million people, and generating $1.9 trillion in sales.
$ Credit women with spending power equal to 90% of the 65-68% of houses bought by couples, or about 60% (0.9 x 0.66) of all couples’ real estate dollars.
$ About 18% of homes bought by single women account for 75-80% of residential real estate spending.
$ Women purchase about two-thirds of vehicles and influence 80% of all sales.
$ About 65% of PC purchases are made by women.
$ Women account for $55 billion of the $96 billon spent on electronics gear.
$ Women account for at least half of B2B spending.

Thus is truly impressive leverage of which women have not as yet taken full advantage but they’re learning, thanks to books such as this one. However, as Bennington points out in the Introduction, “women account for just 4 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs, 6 percent of top earners, and 16 percent of board directors and corporate officers.” It will take much more than spunk to achieve the “domination” to which the subtitle of this book refers. Of course, Bennington knows that. She wrote this book in response to the question that serves as the title of this review. Hers is a straightforward, no nonsense, practical, and on occasion (yes) spunky approach to various key issues, major issues, that she examines with uncommon rigor.

These are among the passages that caught my eye, also listed to indicate the range of Bennington’s coverage of subjects:

o The Three Biggest Career-Killing Hobs and How to Handle Them (Pages 13-16)
o Sanity 101: Five Must-Have Tradeoffs for Working Moms (27-29)
o Keeping in Mind @ Work (36-41)
o Why Surveyed Women Prefer Male Bosses (46-53)
o Why Do Comparisons Trip Us Up So Much? (56-59)
o Action Plan: Social Skills Goals (76-78)
o Intentions: Your Present Self (87-88)
o Six Ways to Earn Respect Under the Corporate Umbrella (101-105)
o Seven Ways to Royally Screw Up Your Reputation (105-108)
o Must-Have Skill #1: Communication (112-114)
o When the Sh*t Hits the Fan (151-157)
o Leading from Where You Are (175-177)
o The Difference Between Mentors and Sponsors (188-189)

One of the book’s greatest strengths is the series of “action plans” that Bennington includes, each based on the achievement of specific goals: self-awareness (Pages 41-42), aforementioned social skills (76-78), in response to a client (125-126), personal effectiveness (129-132), team development (168-170), and leadership (197-199).

When concluding the book, Emily Bennington again affirms that there’s nothing more important to a woman’s success than being a magnificent woman first because “the truth is, it’s not a man’s world or a woman’s world. It’s our world, because it’s what we make of it. No ceiling.” I hope that those who read this commentary will be better prepared to determine whether or not they wish to read the book and, in that event, will have at least some idea of how to help eliminate all gender-specific limits on personal growth and professional development for men as well as for women, especially now when such freedom is most needed in what has become a global marketplace.

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