As I reflect now on this essay written in 1973, I’m struck by what has changed—the increasing numbers of women in sociology and their


impact—but also by what has not—the clockwork of male careers. When I was an assistant professor in 1971, at UC Berkeley, 12 percent of all Berkeley Ph. D.s were women, 9 percent of all assistant professors, 6 percent of asso­ciate professors, and 3 percent of all full professors. At Yale the first female faculty member was hired in 1959; at Harvard the first female was appointed to a full professorship in 1947; and, as of 1961, Princeton had no women full professors. As late as 1970 there were only two tenured women in Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences. At Berkeley and other top-ranked research universities there were proportionately fewer women than at U. S. universities and colleges as a whole. Both at Berkeley and in the United States, things have changed enormously. In 2000 at UC Berkeley women made up 33 percent of assistant professors, 39 percent of associate profes­sors, and 17 percent of full professors. And among faculty at four-year col­leges and universities in the United States as a whole, in 2002 a greater number of women appear at every level of academic life. Here are the changes:





Percentage entering freshmen



Percentage earning Ph. D.s



Percentage assistant professors



Percentage associate professors



Percentage full professors



Also on the bright side, the social sciences have begun to reflect the shift. In 1962 little had been written that was explicitly about women. Between 1873 and i960 fewer than 1 percent of all books in the Subject Guide to Booh in Print were expressly on the subject of women. During that time only six­teen history doctoral theses concerned women, one of them, “Recent Popes on Women’s Position in Society,” written by a man. Today we have an aca­demic industry. The task is to pick the pearls from the hundreds of articles that appear each year. Now, there is first-rate scholarship on women of color, on men from a feminist perspective, and on the lesbian and gay experience.

But the other side of the story is telling too. Over the last twenty-five years, many more women have been juggling work and home alone—a sit­uation that is even harder to fit into the clockwork of male careers. Meanwhile, it remains true that academic women today are still less likely to marry or to have children. And if they do have children, they have fewer than their male counterparts. A forthcoming study of women at UC Berkeley shows just how hard it still is to combine a career with having chil­dren. Among tenured faculty in their forties who teach in the hard sciences at UC Berkeley, 70 percent of men and 50 percent of women have children.

Among tenured faculty in their forties who teach in the humanities and social sciences, 60 percent of males and only 38 percent of females have children.27

Students raising families can go more slowly in earning their degree, but then they are seen as delinquent according to a new measure Berkeley has devised called “normative time.” You get financial privileges if you move rapidly through a degree program but not if you don’t. Among ladder-rank faculty, I know of a tiny handful on the entire campus who work less than full-time. There are some part-time lecturers, but they form part of a sec­ondary labor force of instructors hired year to year at lower pay. That’s hardly the answer. The clockwork of male careers has proved easier to join than to change. More women, including women of color, have careers, but the clockwork of careers goes on and on.

Looking back at the culture at large, over the last quarter century, we see that certain aspects of the women’s movement have entered the main­stream of American life through a process Herbert Marcuse described as “resistance through incorporation.” American culture incorporated what of feminism fit with capitalism and individualism, but it resisted the rest. It incorporated the idea of equal pay for equal work and diversity but dis­pensed with any challenge to the priorities of the system women wanted in on. So it looks to me as if the good fight is still ahead.

seek to focus on here—which is between Protestantism and the spirit of capitalism and not between either of these and capitalism itself.

2. A recent Gallup poll showed that one out of three Americans has bought a

“sel f-help book” (Wood 1988). According to Steven Starker’s telephone survey of itooo residents of Portland, Oregon, the average respondent read 2.82 self-help books a year. Women were more likely to buy and read a self-help book, and bought more books on love and relationships, stress and anxiety, and weight loss while men bought more on self-improvement and motivation. women were nearly twice

as likely as nonworking women to buy books on self-improvement, motivation, and love and relationships. Both working and nonworking women were equally prone to buy books on stress and anxiety (see Starker 1989, Radway 1984, and Long 1986). Simonds interviewed 30 readers, mostly white, employed, middle class in income and education, two-thirds single or divorced (1992, chap. 1). All the best-sellers focused on heterosexual love; we lack data on the sexual orientation of readers and lack research on gay and lesbian advice books. On reading the cultural tea leaves of advice books, see Elias 1978, Giddens 1991, and Simonds 1992.

3. In his classic book Distinction (1984), Pierre Bourdieu spoke of “cultural agents,” or intermediaries, who actively shape, rather than passively transmit, cul­ture. Writers of advice books are “cultural intermediaries.” (Most authors of the books I studied were women, and the most common professions were psychologist, counselor, and writer.) Bourdieu applies an economizing metaphor to culture— “cultural capital”—which implies that culture is something we have or don’t have, like table manners, a talent for conversation, and self-confidence ( і 984, p. 4). I use the term “culture” to refer to a set of practices and beliefs that we hold, do, and partly are.

4. For this study I selected books from a list of hardback or paperback (trade and mass-market) books found on the best-seller lists of Publishers Weekly. The criteria used by Publishers Weekly to determine a best-seller changed through the years, and I have followed its changes. I selected books that were addressed to women or cen­trally concerned women’s personal or work lives. I excluded diet books, and inspi­rational or self-development books that did not add ress or directly bear on women. Books excluded from the list on which I base rough numerical calculations-—i. e.( books 1 read but didn’t study—include non-best-selling advice books for women and advice books for men.

The original list includes a “core” of pure advice books modeled on psychother­apy or on a social science study based on interviews. Examples of this type are Susan Forward and Joan Torres’s Men Who Hate Women and the Women Who Love Theni (1987). Adopting the metaphors of “sickness” and “healing," which psychiatry itself adopted from medicine, these advice books tell stories of patients’ emotional symp­toms and cures. Other books quote and interpret hundreds of interviews and report the “findings." …

The list also includes a second type of book, which focuses on social practices— dress, manner—with little discussion of the animating ideas or motives behind them. An example of this type would be Judith Martin’s Miss Manners’ Guide to Rear­ing Perfect Children (1984) or Abigail Van Buren’s The Best (1981). A

more diverse third group of books includes autobiography, humor, and commen­tary. Examples are Bill Cosby’s Love and Marriage (19Й9), Erma Bombeck’s The Grass

Is Always Greener over the Septic Tank (1976), and the Boston Women’s Health Book Collective, Ourselves and Our Children (1978). (For cross-cultural comparisons, see Brinkgreve 1962, Brinkgreve and Korzec 1979, Elias 1978, and Wouters 1987.)

Although Ї focus on books published between 1970 and 1990, a look back to the turn of the century reveals three types of books, of which the 1970-90 collection reflects two. The three types are traditionals, tradition-for-modems, and modems. By tradition-for-moderns, I refer to advice books that curiously mix a belief in male dominance with an appeal to modem goals (“increased female power”) and/or an evocation of modem dilemmas. Modem advice books, as I define the term here, advocate equality between the sexes. For a study oi nineteenth-century advice books, see Ehrenreich and English (1978). An example of a “plain” traditional advice book is Grace Dodge’s (1892) Thoughts of Busy Girls, which explains the value of modesty, purity, altruism, dedication, and capacity for moral reform, without appeals to empowerment, freedom, or equality, and without reference to the fear, once mar­ried, of being left.