The Courage to Achieve: Why America's Brightest Women Struggle to Fulfill Their Promise

Betty A. Walker, Author, Marilyn Mehr, With
Betty A. Walker, Author, Marilyn Mehr, With Simon & Schuster $19.5 (0p) ISBN 978-0-671-73642-2
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Today, as in the past, intellectually gifted women are not able to realize their potential, Southern California psychologists Walker and Mehr contend here, citing the lives and testimony of 15 graduates--from the class of 1910 through those of the 1980s--of Manhattan's academically select Hunter College High School. The post-graduation histories of women who on admission to Hunter High tested in the top 2% of the population reveal several anomalies. Many of the women describe early and continued discomfort ``with the idea that they were smart.'' Even those who have acknowledged their own intellectual giftedness and achieved prominence in their fields recall feeling alienated from family and friends as well as unprepared for the ``real'' world after graduation. Across the decades, these women raise refrains about the ``tyranny of perfection,'' the pressure to please others and the need for mentors. The book also offers a program encouraging women to reflect, make choices and take action. (Oct.)
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