Marina Whitman interviewed by American Public Media's Marketplace about her book, "The Martian's Daughter"
In her book, Whitman, who served on the president's Council of Economic Advisers and was later vice president and chief economist at General Motors, talked about her success in reaching positions previously inaccessible to women.
"Part of it, of course, was dumb luck," she told Marketplace, "being in the right place at the right time. But part of it, I think, had to do with my own family background." Whitman is the daughter of renowned mathematician and "Martian" John von Neumann, who was a key member of The Manhattan Project in the 1930s. She said that her father's accomplishments instilled ambition, which enabled her achieve her own successes.
In her interview, Whitman also said the barriers women face today are in some ways different from those, such as discrimination, that she often confronted in the corporate world. "Now, I think, they may say instead 'Well, you're not quite right for the job; you're underqualified; you're overqualified...' That personalizes in a way that the overt discrimination didn't."
Whitman's new book is a memoire and intellectual biography, as well as an insightful commentary into her experiences breaking the barriers of what women can achieve.
Marina Whitman will read from and discuss her new memoir, "The Martian's Daughter," on Oct. 2 at the University of Michigan Hatcher Graduate Library.