Why do 90 percent of Americans believe that geniuses are almost always men? Janice Kaplan explores the powerful forces that have rigged the system—and celebrates the women geniuses past and present who have triumphed anyway.
While she takes a mainly optimistic, celebratory and supportive view of what women have achieved thus far within the strictures of societal patriarchy, her many in-person interviews with and anecdotes about successful women also reflect concern, along with a tinge of sadness and empathy for the obvious and more subtle costs of that success ... The temptation to enfold a long and glorious list of major women—especially those whose names have been invisible even to avowed feminists—is overwhelming. But to do so would undermine the richness of Kaplan’s achievement in both celebrating and questioning what it has taken for women to be as successfully recognized as men, often in the same jobs and professional fields. To fully appreciate The Genius of Women, even the most skeptical reader needs to enter openly into its surprising diversity of feminine narrative.
All of the stories are a delight to read. The author's contributions are engaging, though the book sometimes fails to fully explore the intersections of race, culture, sexuality, and other identities that make it more difficult for some women to succeed than others. The group of women included in the book is diverse, but the author's analysis occasionally feels narrow and ignores the many layers of the subjects' lives and communities ... While an imperfect presentation, the book is an easy read and the extent of the author's research makes this book a worthwhile addition to the growing literature offering long overdue profiles of the world's most brilliant women.
In this deep dive on the universal failure to recognize female genius, Kaplan...includes a little bit of everything ... This sounds like an awful lot, and it is, but Kaplan’s writing style is engaging and full of relatable examples. Her tone ranges from strident to self-depreciating ... Her commentary goes far beyond intellectual matters ... Expect this well-reasoned account to generate a lot of interest and conversation.