Boston Fed releases Reaching the Top: Challenges and Opportunities for Women Leaders Boston Fed releases Reaching the Top: Challenges and Opportunities for Women Leaders

April 7, 2005
Contact: Thomas L. Lavelle, Assistant Vice President and Public Information Officer

Boston - The Federal Reserve Bank of Boston today released Reaching the Top: Challenges and Opportunities for Women Leaders, a special issue of its economics magazine, Regional Review. The issue explores why fewer women than men attain top executive and professional positions. It is based on a conference held at the Boston Fed on March 3, 2004, with additional material by Boston Fed researchers.

Boston Fed President Cathy E. Minehan said, "Women have made enormous progress in the workplace over the last 40 years, but the pace seems to have slowed in recent years. We held this conference so we could learn more about why change has slowed and what factors and decisions throughout women's lifetimes might account for this."

Continuing, Ms. Minehan said "I submit that we need to look for new models, new ways of doing things that make it possible for high-potential women and men to remain attached to the workforce when family or personal responsibilities demand time as well. This is not simply a matter of fairness, though it certainly is that; but it is also essential to the development of the high powered workforce this country needs."

The issue includes four feature articles by leading scholars on women and work:

  • “From the Valley to the Summit” by Claudia Goldin, professor of economics at Harvard University, on the 'quiet revolution' in women's education, career and life choices that started with women born in the late 1940s,
  • “Choices and Changes” by Joyce P. Jacobsen, professor of economics at Wesleyan University, on how women’s career and family choices interact to create or preclude the opportunity for women to reach the top,
  • “Unconsciousness Raising” by Barbara Reskin, professor of sociology at the University of Washington, on how unconscious and often unintentional acts of discrimination affect women’s career outcomes and what organizations can do to stem these effects,
  • “Spinning the Top” by Nancy Folbre, professor of economics at the University of Massachusetts – Amherst, on the importance of gender preference and cultural norms in reaching the top and the role that women should play in redefining our measures of success. 

It also features more than a dozen additional articles by prominent academics, business and nonprofit leaders, and Boston Fed researchers.

The issue is available online at To request a print copy, choose "Subscribe" from the special issue webpage or contact the Boston Fed's Research Library at 617-973-3397 or

Reaching the Top: Challenges and Opportunities for Women Leaders
A special issue of Regional Review

List of contributors

  • Francine D. Blau, Frances Perkins Professor of Industrial and Labor Relations and Labor Economics and Director of the Institute for Labor Market Studies, Cornell University
  • Katharine Bradbury, Senior Economist and Policy Advisor, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston
  • Marcia Brumit Kropf, Chief Operating Officer, Girls Incorporated
  • Carrie Conaway, Deputy Director, New England Public Policy Center, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston
  • Nancy Folbre, Professor of Economics, University of Massachusetts – Amherst
  • Helen Frame Peters, Professor of Finance and former dean, Carroll School of Management, Boston College
  • Claudia Goldin, Henry Lee Professor of Economics, Harvard University and Director of the Development of the American Economy Program, National Bureau of Economic Research
  • Brad Hershbein, Senior Research Assistant, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston
  • Rosanna Hertz, Luella LaMer Professor of Sociology and Women’s Studies, Wellesley College
  • Joyce P. Jacobsen, Andrews Professor of Economics, Wesleyan University
  • Jane Katz, Economist, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston
  • Paul F. Levy, President and Chief Executive Officer, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
  • Lisa M. Lynch, William L. Clayton Professor of International Economic Affairs, Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University
  • Ioannis N. Miaoulis, President and Director, Museum of Science, Boston
  • Cathy E. Minehan, President and CEO, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston
  • V. Sue Molina, retired partner and former National Director of the Initiative for the Retention and Advancement of Women, Deloitte & Touche USA LLP
  • Barbara Reskin, S. Frank Miyamoto Professor of Sociology, University of Washington
  • Francene Rodgers, Founder and former Chief Executive Officer, WFD Consulting
  • Kathryn Shaw, Ernest C. Arbuckle Professor of Economics, Graduate School of Business, Stanford University
  • Anne E. Winkler, Professor of Economics and Public Policy, University of Missouri – St. Louis