Breaking the Jewish glass ceiling (UPDATED)


Writing in The Jerusalem Post, Barabar Sofer reviews "Leveling the Playing Field," a guide to lowering barriers to women holding the top jobs at Jewish organizations:

With alacrity, this slim paperback addresses women’s justifiable gripes and provides practical suggestions to level the playing field. There’s even a workbook section that provides tools for immediate gender assessment and exercises.

Bronznick, Goldenhar and Linsky underline qualities and behaviors that are necessary for adaptive change. These include stepping back and taking a distanced view, thinking politically and — here’s a tough one for most women — orchestrating conflict around this issue and taking the heat from the backlash.

In addition to providing a guideline for change, Leveling the Playing Field offers interesting first-person illustrations of real women who have taken the initiative and made it to the top. For example, Maxine Epstein, the Marion region director of the Jewish Community Federation, recalls her annoyance at reading the cover story in the Northern California Jewish Bulletin decrying the lack of qualified Jewish community professionals to fill the shoes of the CEO positions in California. After reading the article, she took out a pair of nice blue pumps from her closet, wrapped one of them in a copy of the article along with her resume and her vision of the future and sent it off. She won the executive job.

Sofer ends with a final plea to keep the issue front and center:

In this difficult economic period, this is not the time for women’s issues to retreat to a back burner, like a forgotten cholent. We cannot afford to run our Jewish world on anything less than a meritocracy. Leveling the Playing Field provides timely coaching in making this happen.

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