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Biz & Books review: ‘The Fix’ takes on barriers holding women back

Terri Schlichenmeyer

Special to the NNBW

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The book: "The Fix: Overcome the Invisible Barriers That are Holding Women Back at Work"

The author: Michelle P. King

The details: c.2020, Atria, $27, 336 pages

Buy online: amzn.to/3anSWpb

The disappointment arrived just after lunch.

That promotion you hoped to get? Nope. No raise, either, because your boss wants you to make a few improvements in your job, tweak your skills, have more time to grow — even though you’ve been improving, tweaking, and growing for months at work.

Courtesy Atria

Frustrating? You bet, but as you’ll see in “The Fix” by Michelle P. King, you can’t blame yourself.

Get a better degree, lean in, create a personal brand, find your fit: when it comes to business and business opportunities, women have been told all these things and more in the past year or three. You need to change and adapt to your workplace, right?

Wrong, says King. The problem isn’t you. It’s your workplace.

Your opportunities are limited because, in nearly “every level of leadership in corporate America,” women are “underrepresented.” The issue is worse for women of color, and when you consider that, overall, “women continue to earn less,” you see that the whole situation is unsustainable, even untenable.

And it can happen, even if the business is trying to avoid it.

Acting like men is obviously not the answer, nor is being a “token” hire, says King, and she stresses that she’s not advocating change at the expense of men. Instead, she points out that alterations in the workplace that benefit women also benefit their male co-workers in ways they may not have realized they need.

But until widespread change happens, King says, preparation and knowing what you might experience is important; knowing these “phases” can also help institute fixes along the way:

“The Achievement Phase” happens at the beginning of a woman’s career life. It’s here where fitting in and conformation are pushed, and pay inequality appears.

“The Endurance Phase” is the mid-career spot and includes a battle with “gender norms” from management and a “Catch-22” for male co-workers.

“The Contribution Phase” arrives for a woman who’s been in the workplace awhile. Here is where women grapple with leadership issues, but with effort and teaching, there’s a chance to make a better workplace for all employees…

Every woman who’s ever gotten a paycheck from an outside source knows the feeling of going nowhere, fast. You know that frustration of goals held just out of reach. “The Fix” offers a way to change that – but you’ll need lots of buy-in to do it.

Businesswomen, of course, already know all about inequality and unfair assumptions in the workplace, but King reiterates them quickly before pointing out the nefarious but “hidden” ways that the status quo is kept.

Reading this absolutely heightens any frustration you might be feeling or have tamped down, if you’re a long-time or frequent sufferer; that’s when King switches gears to her forewarned-is-forearmed part of this book, which serves to sharpen observations and offer ideas.

But will it help? Not by itself; for King’s ideas to work, every employee needs to be aboard. Women can read and try “The Fix” themselves, but without their male co-workers, there’ll be a lot of disappointment.

Terri Schlichenmeyer is the reviewer behind “The Bookworm Sez,” a self-syndicated book review column published in more than 260 newspapers and magazines in the U.S., Canada and the Caribbean. She can be reached for feedback, ideas and links to reviews of books on a broad range topics at bookwormsez.com.


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