BWW Review: RENWOMEN: WHAT MODERN RENAISSANCE WOMEN HAVE TO TEACH US ABOUT LIVING RICH, FULFILLING LIVES by Dale Griffiths Stamos & W. Scott Griffiths
This year, America reached an important milestone in nominating the first female major-party candidate in the history of the presidential race. Clinton's presidential bid--and subsequent defeat by a candidate who doesn't inspire hope for any strides towards gender equality (or even sensitivity)--has women's rights on the forefront of social discussion. Authors Dale Griffiths Stamos and W. Scott Griffiths contribute to this discussion with RenWomen, a book that presents a premise of the new "Renaissance" and the culture of women who define it. Like the "renaissance man," a "RenWoman's" successes aren't dependent on high-level accomplishments in one field. These women have realized goals by balancing a variety of skills that span work, play, and family life. RenWomen champions the idea that "high-powered" does not necessarily equate to "better," and recognizes the importance of constantly learning new skills to maintain relevance in a world of rapidly evolving technology.
Stamos defines the modern RenWoman as a woman with the availability to master many crafts--"an adapt-or-perish breed." With the ability to apply seemingly unrelated skills to new positions, RenWomen can thrive in a variety of situations. Creativity is a RenWoman's strength in what Stamos refers to as an "information-on-demand" society.
Writer Jenn Lee, in an elitedaily.com blog entitled "On Being a Modern Day Renaissance Individual: This Is No Time to Be a One-Trick Pony," describes herself as a medical professional "with a bachelor's degree in business and a penchant for art." Lee says that spending her time pursuing passion projects prevented her from devoting her life to one single career path. "This was often dismissed as being indecisive or noncommittal," Lee says, "but . . . innovation does not spark from something new, but rather, from a new perspective on something old. Art provides the creativity and out-of-box mentality that is fundamental for advancing in the fields of math and science."
RenWomen features stories of Renaissance women through the ages. Divided into short profiles, these mini-chapters highlight the fascinating lives of women who accomplished incredible feats despite the overwhelming opposition of the social constructs of their time. It was important to Stamos that the book include her points of view about the status quo of women's culture, and the strides made over the past centuries. To qualify as a RenWoman, each featured woman had to be a master of at least three fields, and they needed to have applied their skills in a visionary or groundbreaking capacity. These modern women have in common what Stamos refers to as a "rage to learn," and a mindset towards growth.
RenWomen: What Modern RenWomen Have To Teach Us about Living Rich, Fulfilling Lives is not a self-help text; it's a book that describes how women in a variety of situations found personal, emotional success. For example, Stamos writes about how the "lean-in" generation (a phrase based on Sheryl Sandberg's bestselling book, Lean In), a culture of women who rose through the ranks of corporate America, set an exhausting example for Millennials. Many women of the Millenial generation are instead taking a more circumventing route to success by finding places to thrive in niche markets--some while simultaneously dedicating themselves to family life. RenWomen acknowledges that true feminism advocates any lifestyle that allows women to pursue professional passion and emotional satisfaction.
Stamos, herself a RenWoman with screenwriting, songwriting, and theatre-making credits, teaches at the Santa Barbara Writer's Conference. She has a mindset for collaboration, and has built a community out of her RenWomen by enlisting them to vet their stories and be a part of the book's marketing plan. RenWomen is an entertaining read that discusses a current, creative mindset that yields success through a varied resume of skills and tasks, showing the importance of individuals who can apply proficiency in one field toward success in an unrelated area of life.