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Debora Spar      

President of Barnard College; Author, "Wonder Women: Sex, Power and the Quest for Perfection"

Debora L. Spar became the seventh president of Barnard College on July 1, 2008.

Since her arrival at the College, Spar has been a vocal proponent of womens education and leadership, spearheading initiatives that include the Athena Center for Leadership Studies, an interdisciplinary center devoted to the theory and practice of women's leadership, and Barnards Global Symposium series, an annual gathering of high-profile and accomplished female leaders held each year in a different region of the world.

A political scientist by training, Spars scholarly research focuses on issues of international political economy, examining how rules are established in new or emerging markets and how firms and governments together shape the evolving global economy. She is the author of numerous books, including Ruling the Waves: Cycles of Invention, Chaos, and Wealth from the Compass to the Internet (2001) and The Baby Business: How Money, Science, and Politics Drive the Commerce of Conception (2006). Her next book, titled Wonder Women: Sex, Power and the Quest for Perfection, is due to be published in September 2013.

Spar is a graduate of Georgetown Universitys School of Foreign Service, and received her doctorate in government from Harvard. She is a member of the Academy of Arts and Sciences and currently serves as a trustee of the Nightingale-Bamford School and a director of Goldman Sachs. Prior to coming to Barnard, Spar was the Spangler Family Professor of Business Administration and had served as senior associate dean for faculty research and development at Harvard Business School. At Harvard she taught courses on the politics of international business, comparative capitalism, and economic development.

President Spar is married to Miltos Catomeris, an architect whose specialty is academic, institutional and corporate campuses. They are the parents of three children.

Speech Topics


Wonder Women: Sex, Power, and the Quest for Perfection

As one of the youngest female professors to be tenured at Harvard Business School and a mother of three, Debora Spar swore to young women that they could have it all. “We thought we could just glide into the new era of equality, with babies, board seats, and husbands in tow,” she says. “We were wrong.” In this highly entertaining and inspiring talk, Spar explores how American women’s lives have—and have not—changed over the past fifty years. Armed with reams of new research, she details how women struggled for power and instead got stuck in an endless quest for perfection. The challenges confronting women are more complex than ever, she says, and they are challenges that come inherently and inevitably from being female. Both deeply personal and statistically rich, Spar shares her story and the story of our culture, and provides a road map for the future.

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