Women Like Us

Author Liz Roman Gallese, a former reporter for the WALL STREET JOURNAL, was faced with a dilemma in her career and personal life. Her husband had established a law firm in Boston when she was offered a promotion in New York. After much thought, she turned down the job, but the experience led her to wonder how other businesswomen coped with this fundamental problem.

The Harvard Business School class of 1975 was the first to be fully ten percent women. Most were from the middle or upper middle classes. They had the resources to become the “superwomen” who could have it all--career and family. In her research, the author talked to more than eighty members of the class; of these, she chose six to portray in depth.

These portraits are based upon interviews; the six women are quoted extensively, and they hold little back. Other classmates are quoted to some extent; none of the characters is a composite. They talk freely about their school experiences, personal lives, and careers.

A promotional blurb compared WOMEN LIKE US to Mary McCarthy’s celebrated novel, THE GROUP. As literature, Gallese’s book is hardly in that class; there is a lot of extraneous gossip. Also, since the interviews were done in 1981, only six years after graduation, one cannot expect to have seen the full development of the subjects’ careers.

Yet, there is enough solid information so that by the end of the book, the reader comes to know these women. One also comes to realize that they are not much different from the rest of us as far as the choices they have to make--they cannot have it all, and they will have to pay an exorbitant price to get to the top.