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Bassett, Isabel.

Toronto, Collins, c1985. 306pp, cloth, $24.95, ISBN 0-00-217394-8. CIP

Reviewed by Brenda Watson

Volume 13 Number 5
1985 September

Isabel Bassett is a Canadian television journalist and hostess, and the author of The Parlour Rebellion*. Her report is based on three sources of information; a telephone poll of four hundred Canadian career women (to qualify each woman had to earn $25,000 or more) that Bassett commissioned pollster Martin Goldfard to conduct, Bassett's own interviews with prominent Canadian career men and women, and research in sociology, psychology, and economics as they relate to women. The poll, the interviews, and the readings quoted examine such questions as why women work, obstacles facing women's rise to power in the workplace, the problems of dual career couples, the costs of success, and what changes might improve career women's chances in the workplace.

These topics have been dealt with before, and the bibliography provides more in-depth and better-researched reading in all the areas Bassett covers. Her particular focus is career women and the roadblocks they either encounter, or set up for themselves, on the way to the corporate boardroom. Yet many of the women she interviews are educators, doctors, and public servants. One wonders if success in these areas and in the area of private enterprise require the same strategies.

Most of the report gives the impression that Bassett feels women should develop the skills and personality characteristics to compete with men in pursuing high-profile business careers. It is not until the last chapter that she concedes, "But all this is not to suggest that we should aim at bringing up women who will act just like men and have the very same values and priorities." She goes on to suggest that career women are valuable enough to corporations that the corporations are going to have to change to accomodate them. However, in the meantime, her final message is that women and men who aspire to the top must make their success top priority and trade-off whatever is necessary in their personal lives to achieve it.

The book is written for general consumption. The design is such that it is easy to follow, and the majority of the text is excerpts from Bassett's interviews with a who's who line-up of Canadian women, Barbara Frum, Judge Rosalie Abella, Maureen McTeer, and Anna Porter, with a few career males thrown in. It adds nothing new to what we already know about women in the workplace, and its narrow focus on women earning $25,000 or more per year makes it elite reading. For a broader picture of the problems that face all Canadian working women I recommend Union Sisters: Women in the Labor Movement.**

Brenda Watson, Greater Victoria Public Library, Victoria, B.C.

*Reviewed IV/1 Winter 1976 p. 4
**Reviewed XII/1 January 1984 p. 87

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