Wolf’s book is not truly a conversation about working women as we would normally understand the term. It is a “woe-is-me” quasi-lament for her fellow “elite”: women in powerful positions of wealth and influence. She speaks a great deal about the cultural divide between the elite working women and working women in other classes, but in truth she spends hardly any time focusing on the needs of working women who aren’t captains of industry or high-profile, wealthy figures. I had hoped this book would be a frank discussion on the issues that impact the majority of working women and how those issues can be addressed. Instead, Wolf has a fixation on her own circle of peers that is at times condescending.
Wolf’s research is sound enough, but there is not enough of it. Much of her work draws from her own personal experiences or those of women in her own network of peers. There is no effort to reach out to women outside her comfort zone. No interviews or discussions with factory workers or child care providers or even stay-at-hom moms in the middle class.
But even her limited focus might have offered an interesting perspective if the writing itself was not so dry and lacking in passion. Wolf’s prose does not generate any emotional response from the reader. There is no outrage, no concern, no sudden awareness. It has all the emotional impact of a college student’s term paper. It is, from a purely mechanical aspect, competently written and articulate enough to get her points across. But it lacks soul or anything resembling an impassioned call to action.
Reviewer Notes: I was given an advanced galley proof of this book for review.
The book appears to have been given a title change since I obtained my review copy. The original galley proof listed the full title as: The XX Factor: How the Rise of Working Women Has Created a Far Less Equal World. The new cover art seems to reflect a different title: The XX Factor: How Seventy Million Working Women Created a New Society.