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Cult of Power: Sex Discrimination in Corporate America and What Can Be Done about Itby Martha Burk
"[O]ne of the most valuable contributions of Burk's book has nothing to do with feminism, and everything to do with debunking a particularly disingenuous style of argumentation. Burk does a good job of showing that for all the ways in which her efforts surrounding Augusta were trivialized, the battle itself was far from trivial. In doing so, she exposes, perhaps unintentionally, the fundamental flaw of an argument often used against activists of all kinds: that symbolic but small causes are a waste of time when weighed against the opportunity cost of focusing on larger concerns." Christopher Hayes, the New Republic (read the entire New Republic review)
Synopses & Reviews
It all began with a letter.
In 2002, Dr. Martha Burk, chair of the National Council of Women's Organizations, wrote to the Augusta National Golf Club, host of the prestigious Masters tournament, expressing concern over the club's all-male membership policy and urging it to change.
The resulting firestorm surrounding the club's secret membership roster of high-ranking corporate executives and its refusal to admit women was never really about golf. It was about much more — becoming the linchpin of a national dialogue about the role of women in society not seen since the Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas debate. And, especially in executive suites and boardrooms, the debate is far from resolved.
Cult of Power is an in-depth account of the broader ramifications stemming from the initial controversy, written by the woman who was its center. Burk lays bare the reasons the closed gates of Augusta National symbolize all the ways women are still barred from the highest echelons of power — in government, social and religious organizations, and most important, in corporate America — and why we must change the system. In a stunning rebuttal to the reductionist claim that Augusta National is just about golf or "private association," Burk unveils, for the first time, the extraordinary web of business, government, and philanthropic affiliations of Augusta National members. The list is shocking evidence of the impact and influence the members have and damning proof that there is more going on behind club gates than just a game. It really is a "cult of power."
In dynamic, no-nonsense prose, Burk weaves together anecdotes, documents, and other previously undisclosed material with a discussion of why gender discrimination is still accepted at the highest levels of business and how it affects all working women, from the top tier to the rank and file. Like Susan Faludi in Backlash, Burk addresses the systemic nature of the barriers: barriers ranging from male acculturation to employment laws that don't work to the hypocrisy of corporate diversity initiatives and "awards" for good works.
Cult of Power is an important contribution to our understanding of how the attitudes, rules, processes, and pastimes of corporate America perpetuate an antiquated and unbalanced system. But it also provides real solutions and concrete examples that clearly show what must be done to end gender discrimination and bring about true parity in the workplace. Cult of Power is a rallying call for all women — a clear-sighted prescription for accountability, meaningful action, and real change.
The women's advocate who dared suggest that the nation's premier golf club open its door to women provides an incisive analysis of the international firestorm of debate about "women's place" that raged from the kitchen table to the White House.
Table of Contents
A Simple Letter — About Discrimination, Not Golf
The Deep Divide
It's Perfectly Legal — Or Is It?
Corporate America Closes Ranks
The (Corporate) Good Old Boys Club Exposed
Power Will Out
Buying a Pass: Our Record Is Good on Race, Isn't That Enough?
Gender Baiting and Bad Girls: How Women Who Charge Discrimination Are Punished, Threatened, and Marginalized
Mixed Messages in the Marketplace
The Diversity Dodge
Old Barriers, New Solutions
A Few Good Men
Women in High Places: Why a Gender Lens Matters
Appendix: Augusta National Members and Affiliations
What Our Readers Are Saying
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