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The XX Factor

3.46  ·  Rating details ·  184 ratings  ·  51 reviews
Noted British academic and journalist Alison Wolf offers a surprising and thoughtful study of the professional elite, and  examines the causes—and limits—of women’s rise and the consequences of their difficult choices.

The gender gap is closing. Today, for the first time in history, tens of millions of women are spending more time at the boardroom table than the kitchen tab
Hardcover, 416 pages
Published October 1st 2013 by Crown (first published April 25th 2013)
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Nov 09, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: women-s-issues
Wolf's report, which is empirically grounded, challenges a lot of assumptions that we all make about women today. Among other things, she reports that men and women are treated more or less equally in the workplace (once one is comparing like for like) and that there is no second shift for women -- in fact, men and women now put in roughly the same average number of (total, i.e., home plus outside) working hours. She also reports that it is the graduate-educated professionals with the longest av ...more
Sep 24, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads
I received a copy of "The XX Factor" from Goodreads' giveaway program. I was excited to receive this book because I am interesting in women's roles in society and the impact of those choices on women's advancement. The word that keeps coming to my mind to describe this book is: overwhelming.

The book contained an overwhelming amount of statistical information, and it became too much to read. As a result, the reading of this book was not enjoyable. The author obviously did an immense amount of re
Nov 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
By Christopher Swann

Inequality is the dark side of leaning in. Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, used “Lean In” as the title of her book about how women should be more assertive. Alison Wolf shows in “The XX Factor” that elite females are already catching up with male peers. Wolf, a professor of public sector management at King’s College London, shows gains at the top have only been possible because of a revival of a distinctly non-elite occupation: the “female servant”. The r
Jun 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fem-gems
Alison Wolf traces the journey women have taken from the kitchen the the classrooms, courtrooms and beyond. Though laden with statistics and history this doesn't bring on yawns, instead it makes you consider your place in the great machine of progress and wonder at the lives of the brave ladies who came before you, and more importantly, consider the implications for the future.

From start to finish Wolf uses Jane Austen as an example of the progress women have made (admittedly she focuses on the
Aug 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This was an extremely interesting, well-researched and well written book about the growing difference among women. The argument is no longer equality between men and women in the professional world but rather, the disappearing sisterhood. As a graduate school educated professional in my early-thirties, it was fascinating and reassuring to hear that my situation is not odd or unique. I have chosen career over children, yet I am happily married. Children are still part of the plan, I just chose no ...more
Oct 22, 2013 rated it did not like it
This book was so boring! It was written like someone's thesis that they tried to turn into a book. All 250 pages were written to tell about data and there were 5 pages of conclusion at the end.

Aside from being written poorly, I couldn't stand a few things about the author's tone. She was so derogatory to women who don't have higher education and don't make a lot of money. So much so that she used the term "elite" over and over for the women she talked about in the book who earned a lot of money
Kate O'Hanlon
Jan 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: feminist-stuff
The rich are different.
That's the thought that I came away from after reading The XX Factor. Wolf's portrai of the changed lives of the women at the top of the socio-economic heap is fascinating and rigorously backed up (the appendix full or stats is very long). I appreciate that Wolf is very upfront about the fact that her book is about those top 20% of women, the other 80% are presented mostly for comparison, but I am ravenous for the same rigorous analysis of the experience gap in between low
Jan 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Dense, heavily researched, more global in scope than anticipated, yet highly informative and readable (albeit over a few weeks for me so as to digest it all better) review of current family/work/financial issues. I highly recommend it.
Despite the name of the book, it has practically nil to do with genetic traits.
Barb Wiseberg
Dec 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: business-read
A well researched, thorough book.

I would recommend this to my colleagues but also to young women in high school.

It's a raw, truthful look at the risks, highlights and many rewards of following a professional educational and career track.
Jafreen Alamgir
Sep 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Enjoyed reading this book. Long awaited one of the books. This is a wonderful book on what the challenges are for women who practice leadership as CEOs or senior executives. And how different women have different issues and how to bring those issues up on the table and solve crucial problems that women face. Rather than waiting for someone, let's begin from within.❤📚📖📈👩💼👩💼👩⚖👩🏫
Unfortunately, there is one point I did not like. And that is Bangladesh being considered as a poor nation to which women
Statistical deep-dive into the lives of "elite" working women and mothers. Long story short: things are more equal between men and women at the top then for the rest of the working world. Wolf goes deep into the world of the educated elite, but not into the lives of the less-educated (never graduated high school or only high school diploma) except by comparison to the "degreed" women she profiles. This only paints half the picture (as it intended to), so now we just need a good look at the other ...more
Tara van Beurden
I like to read books about gender studies – its one of my interest areas, and I tried to study as many gender study related courses when doing my sociology degree back in 2005-2008. I’ve read so much and so widely now that I recognize the names of writers in the area, and have often read books referenced in other’s texts. Nonetheless, I find most new text I come across interesting, and I often learn something new. Part of the reason I think I enjoy these type of books is because I feel they give ...more
Feb 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: women, sociology
Did a rise in female professionals solve the myth of gender gap?

This is an illuminating work of Professor Alison Wolf of King College, London who has examined the lives of modern women and their career choices to determine if it has helped the status of women in the society and narrow the myth of gender gap. In this astonishing investigation, the author observes that the gender gap is closing, but in this process, it has widened the gap among women themselves. The career woman with a good educat
May 11, 2015 rated it liked it
I had high hopes for how this started out but it never really clicked. It spends as much time going over the differences between men and women and the changes in women's situations in the past century--which things have already been gone over a lot in other books and popular culture--as the ostensible thesis of inequality among women currently.

I get that you need those first two things for groundwork, but then she kind of skitters over the third bit without ever going in depth. The actual point
Sara Weather
Sep 15, 2013 marked it as dnf
Shelves: won, scrapped
I made a plan that I was going to do a 19% first impressions review with this book and another book I was receiving for review. This plan did not happen like most of the plans I make. I make all these grand plans only to dnf the books.

I won this book off of goodreads the latter part of last year. As you can see it took me a long time to review this book. I did not review this book until now because I had a fear that this book would be one of those books that would say women need to get back into
This book's premise is that as women gained more equality with men, we became lost equality among ourselves. (The sub-title of the book I borrowed from my local library was "How the Rise of Working Women Has Created a Far Less Equal World," although I see that the sub-title of the book shown on GoodReads is different). Almost all women used to have one career: wife and mother. Now almost all women work outside the home, but there is a huge disparity of income and lifestyle among women who work b ...more
Travis Kurtz
Oct 09, 2013 rated it liked it
You're not going to read anything that's groundbreaking in this book. She pretty much says what you already can assume giving the shift of women joining the workforce. I did appreciate the depth of research she uses in backing up her points. I also gained an appreciation for the role opportunity cost plays in our decision making. Here are some main concepts I gathered from the reading:

While women have more career opportunities the division between jobs filled by women and jobs filled by men are
Eva St. Clair
Jun 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
A thorough summary of current trends in women's lives, this book pulls together in one volume anecdotal and statistical research explaining what has happened to the world economy and aspects of its social structures since women began entering the formal workforce en masse.

Most of Wolf's research will be familiar to anyone who reads major world news publications, but Wolf has arranged and commented on it so that disparate pieces (the part-time workforce, the beauty industry, sex, sex workers, hig
Feb 27, 2015 rated it it was ok
This is a well researched but overwritten book that doesn't live up to its subtitle. The focus is on how life is different for well educated women who achieve prestigious, well-paid jobs as compared to women with less education who lead a more traditional life. The subtitle "How the rise of working women has created a far less equal world" is not really explained within the work.
One of the main messages I perceived is that women can now attain status and power by their own means of education an
Mar 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
The XX Factor (2013) by Alison Woolf is a really interesting book about how the drastic change in women's roles in the past 50 years has changed society.

The drastic change on women in the top quintile of income earners in terms of the number of children, if any, they have and the age at which they had them has changed. Their relationships have also greatly changed. Women in the top quintile of income look just like men in the same quintile. They look very different to those women in the bottom
Jan 24, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: owned, galleys
I’m not entirely sure how I feel about this book. The beginning is definitely a little hard to get into, but it was clear from the start that Ms. Wolf was going to make a legitimate effort to analyze the different kinds of women and, specifically, why they’re different; Wolf was not going to make sweeping, stereotypical claims about women and their socio-economical shift, and she delivered on this.

This is a great look at women in terms of Then and Now, why’s, how’s, and what if’s. It addresses
Kevin Hartley
Aug 27, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Jessie Biele
N.B. I received a free copy of this book through the First Reads program.

I found this to be quite interesting. A good many of the points brought up seem to make sense when you sit and think about them, but I hadn't thought about them prior to the book. I'm not sure if it is because I'm a male that I don't think of them, or if it is a generational thing, or if it is simply normal not to.

Being someone that has tried to move from one socioeconomic status level to another quite successfully, though
Aug 23, 2014 rated it it was ok
one of the other goodreads reviewers nailed it in starting her review with "this book was so boring!" Takes the perfectly reasonable point that discussion of sex similarities/differences in experiences with higher education, labor market, and home labor should be careful to note that historically and at present such effects vary by SES and belabors it, reports non-amazing stats about it, repeats it, tells you you might be amazed by it, repeats it, etc.

To be fair, some of the time diary stuff was
Jul 10, 2013 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: professional women, career women
Recommended to Erika by: goodreads giveaway; first reads
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
I wouldn't call this book a response to Lean In; rather it is a supplement to it full of data and a broader look at multiple classes, countries and history as applies to working women. It's not an easy read by any means. Some ideas that stood out to me:
Civic activities and charitable work are way down as women pick more of the traditionally male roles. Also, since women are no longer confined to only "caring" roles (teaching, nursing etc.), the cream of the crop finishes school and is more likel
I received a free copy for review through Goodreads' First Reads program.

For some reason or another, it's been a bit of a challenge to sit myself down and write an actual review for this book. I think that the problem I had with it was that had a lot to say but didn't always seem to be going anywhere with it. It was an interesting enough read, with some genuinely fascinating information... but then at other times it seemed to fall short. At times I would be reading information that really was in
Aug 26, 2013 rated it liked it
I received The XX Factor as part of a Goodreads giveaway.

Alison Wolf examines the history of women in the workplace and the implications recent history has had on women's education, sexuality, and life choices. Heavily statistics based, Wolf has done her homework and her report is a mixed bag of good and bad news for feminists. However, it's a fascinating look at similarities and differences between women (and societies) of different generations and nations (though with a bias toward the Western
Willow Redd
May 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
This was a Goodreads First Read giveaway.

I was intrigued by the title, so I entered the giveaway. And I'm glad I did, because it is a very interesting work. In The XX Factor, Alison Wolf researches the impact of the working woman on modern society. While the gender gap has narrowed considerably, the gap between working women and the more "traditional" woman seems to have widened.

Looking at the way education, work opportunities, marriage, family, and even sex; Wolf examines how options for women
Tara Brabazon
Nov 30, 2014 rated it liked it
Ohhhhhh. Errrrr. I think this book may be written about me. But what is remarkable is the profound ambivalence of the writer's tone.

The educated woman - the successful woman - is not celebrated in this book. She is not attacked in this book. Instead, a tone of concern peppers through the prose.

The well educated and successful women without children are described, analysed and explained in this book. If married, they have selected well educated and successful men, who also do not want to have c
Janine Brouillette
Jul 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
I loved it! As someone who has done research on women leadership I found this book to be fascinating. As a person who grew up in the 60s and 70s where women were rare in the male dominated workplace and I wore my feminist side proudly, I see the world of my daughters who are in their mid 20s and early 30s very different. They tell me to stop lecturing about the challenge of being a woman in the workplace, they view woman as having every opportunity as men and no problem with females doing whatev ...more
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Alison is a British author, academic and journalist, who also lived and worked for 10 years in the US, and manages to return there frequently. Her day job is in central central London, at King's College London, where she runs a public management Masters programme; but she also presents programmes for BBC Radio (Radio 4)and writes widely for national newspapers and magazines. Her most recent book, ...more
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“increasingly women are buying stuff for themselves with their own money. They buy their own toys.” 0 likes
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