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For most of history, being female defined the limits of a woman's achievements. But now women can be successful careerists equal to men. In Norway, women legally must constitute a third of all boards; in the U.S.A., women have gone from being 3 percent of practising lawyers in 1970 to 40 percent today. Currently, more than seventy million educated women work alongside men.
Yet the "sisterhood" of working women is deeply divided. Young, educated, full-time professional women, who have put children on hold, are making enormous strides in the workplace. But for a second group of women, this is unattainable; instead, they work part-time, earn less, are concentrated in heavily feminized occupations such as cleaning, and gain income and self-worth from having children at a young age.
The new female elite, the top 10 percent, lead lives completely different from all previous women in history. Their working lives increasingly resemble those of the successful men they work with. A groundbreaking look at modern women, The XX Factor lifts the curtain on the social, cultural, and economic schisms behind the phenomenal rise of women in the workplace.