Women and Work: Who is Our Moral Leader?

Take a look at the non-fiction New York Times Best Seller’s list and you will find that #11 is “Lean In” and #17 is “The Confidence Code.”  Both books deal with the subject of women’s success in the workplace and obstacles to success.  On the one hand, we can be excited that authors are stepping forward and exerting some leadership in addressing the question of why women are still not advancing at the rate of men.  That’s a good thing.  What is a bit troubling is that both of these books examine what women are doing wrong and how we are responsible for our own dead ends and glass ceilings (my words not theirs).  I like that there are women leaders who are set to coach us on being more assertive and more confident.  I appreciate that these authors are encouraging women to harness and utilize their natural skills of team work, multi-tasking and nurturing to get ahead.  But in the bigger picture I miss an old-fashioned feminist voice.  Where is this generation’s Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan.  In fact, why has Steinem, herself, stopped shouting?  We should maximize our talents and be more aggressive to get further.  But someone needs to spell out and remind everyone of the painful truth that misogyny is alive and well.  We need to be reminding ourselves how we should be raising our boys.  Yes, there are men in positions of power who are “gender blind” and who consequently give women a totally equal shake.  There are even men in positions of power who kvell at women’s success and go out of their way to help women get ahead.  But there are still many, many individual men and groups of men who use their power to keep women down, who harass women and who delight in repressing their advancement. Women’s equality is not a war that was won in the 1970’s and therefore is an achieved goal. Rather, the enlightenment of men and women on the subject of women’s true equality of opportunity in the workplace is a battle that needs to be fought again and again, an education that needs to be reaffirmed in every generation.  It’s like the study of Torah–you never finish.  Every year we read and study the meaning of stories like the brilliant coordinated efforts among Yocheved, Miriam and Batya in rescuing Moses.  It’s not a one time learning.  It’s a forever and over again thing.