Book Review March 2008
Double Outsiders: How Women of Color Can Succeed in Corporate America
Author: Jessica Faye Carter, J.D.
Publisher: JIST Works
Reviewed by Soroya Brantley
Women of color account for more than 15 percent of the U.S. population and almost 50 percent of the U.S. labor force, yet only 1.7 percent of all corporate officers in Fortune 500 companies are women. Can this change? Will it change? Double Outsiders: How Women of Color Can Succeed in Corporate America addresses these and other questions. Author Jessica Faye Carter uses her years of professional experience in corporate law and financial services to provide insight into the issues and hurdles facing women of color in corporations today.
The book has four parts. Part One, “On Being a Woman of Color,” defines and explains terms such as “women of color” and “double outsiders” and examines the progress women of color have made, what companies are doing to attract and advance such women, the shortcomings of diversity initiatives and ways to enhance them. Part Two, “Bumps in the Road,” discusses obstacles women of color may encounter in their quest to get ahead, the effects of gender discrimination and stereotypes and the potential to get ahead by changing jobs. One chapter, entitled “No Woman’s Land,” reviews challenges in upper management, such as ambiguity, isolation and “hypervisibility,” or overexposure. Encouraged by the corporations themselves, the media usually pays a great deal of attention to the few women of color in upper management, which can affect productivity and even create resentment.
Part Three, “Fast-Forward,” explores ways to become “high-potential,” what keeps women of color off corporate boards and the challenges those who make it face. It discusses the international market, challenges and advantages of working abroad, how to obtain international assignments and the difficulties involved in doing so. Surprisingly yet refreshingly, Part Four, “Behind Closed Doors,” looks at how the job affects personal relationships, family, health and vice versa. It offers ways to cope with any negative impact.
Although the book is peppered with stand-alone boxes and grids containing statistical data, survey findings and helpful tips, it is far from boring technical fare. It is enlivened by the personal insights various women provide in breakout boxes headed “In Their Own Words.” Multiple subheadings in each chapter make it easy to digest the abundance of information Carter presents.
Overall, Double Outsiders: How Women of Color Can Succeed in Corporate America is an informative guide, designed to help minority women not only to survive but also to excel in the corporate world. It gives voice to the numerous personal experiences, perspectives and learned lessons of women of color in various positions in the corporate world. At the same time, the book is valuable for companies, allowing them insight into this key demographic and providing strategies for recruitment and retention.
Sandrine’s Letter to Tomorrow
By Dedra Johnson
IG Publishing, November 2007
$14.95, 212 pages
Johnson’s debut is a cutting, coming-of-age story about eight-year-old Sandrine Miller, who endures the pain of living with—and eventually moving away from—a selfish, unloving mother, an uncaring stepmother and a troublemaking half sister. Sandrine soon realizes that she must leave New Orleans if she has any chance of having a happy and peaceful life. She finds her voice and strength at the Catholic school she attends and in her father’s office, places where people don’t mistreat or judge her because she’s light-skinned. Johnson writes with precision and a polished descriptive style, capturing the emotions of a young girl coping with and trying to make sense of a world she shares with discontented adults.
Ida, a Sword Among Lions: Ida B. Wells and the Campaign Against Lynching
By Paula J. Giddings
Amistad/HarperCollins, March 2008
$35, 816 pages
Ida B. Wells-Barnett was indeed an intrepid woman. She was a tireless advocate for women’s rights, an outspoken journalist who reported on the mistreatment of Blacks and an ardent crusader against the atrocities of lynching. In Ida, a Sword Among Lions, Giddings concentrates on Wells’s career as a journalist and her role as co-owner and editor of The Free Speech newspaper. Wells was also a co-founder of the NAACP. Although she received many accolades for her work, Wells was heavily criticized for her radical views by other Black intellects of the time. Giddings sums up Wells’s strength and heart in this meticulous biography.
—Clarence V. Reynolds