Rejections, and more important things
It’s the day after International Women’s Day, and I just thought I’d share two responses I’ve had to the PP book manuscript. The first is from a publisher:
“There are two problems. First they feel that some of the material is not wholly unfamiliar – my colleagues who read many more business books than me tell me that they have read books which cover the subject and they are not sure this breaks enough new ground. And second – and I am not sure how one resolves this problem– they feel it would be a sales obstacle for us to publish a book on this subject by a man. It probably has to be written by a woman. ”
and the second from a literary agent:
“The author’s research and structure were impressive and clear. I also thought he had a robust website which is a plus. But I’m afraid I was put-off by the fact that it is a man writing on the topic. I don’t think Lean-in could’ve been written by a man, and I’m not positive this could be either. Maybe it simply needs s different spin, or a slightly different framing (more sociological, less motivational in a way so it doesn’t feel like a man telling women what’s wrong with this picture.) This is no feminist rant—I’m thinking really only from a sales perspective, of how this could be pitched so that it never sounds like a man pointing to what needs to be fixed, for women.”
I’d be interested in people’s reactions, a) from the commercial/sales point of view, and b) more generally. (Nice about the website, at least.) Comments to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
More importantly, I was struck by some figures in Christine Lagarde’s recent London speech, as well as by her emphasis on the negative economic impact of inequality. The IMF head concluded:
“There is one more dimension of inequality that I wish to discuss here—one that is close to my heart. If we talk about inclusion in economic life, we must surely talk about gender. As we know too well, girls and women are still not allowed to fulfill their potential—not just in the developing world, but in rich countries too. The International Labor Organization estimates that 865 million women around the world are being held back. They face discrimination at birth, on the school bench, in the board room. They face reticence of the marketplace—and of the mind.
And yet, the economic facts of life are crystal clear. By not letting women contribute, we end up with lower living standards for everyone. If women participated in the labor force to the same extent as men, the boost to per capita incomes could be huge—27 percent in the Middle East and North Africa, 23 percent in South Asia, 17 percent in Latin America, 15 percent in East Asia, 14 percent in Europe and Central Asia. We simply cannot afford to throw away these gains.” Christine Lagarde, Richard Dimbleby Memorial Lecture, London Feb 2015.
The figures would be even greater if we looked not just at economic participation per se, but at jobs which matched skills.