The women of the success subculture fly in the face of many a myth about how women should feel, live, and behave. In that sense they are iconoclasts. Not that they necessarily set out to be, but living on the cutting edge of a changing society almost inevitably makes them so. They have entered paths few women have trod--the high-echelon, prestigious, and well-paid jobs near the top of the organizational and social hierarchy. They live in relatively egalitarian marriages and are mothers as well. They upset traditional views of marriage where the husband is the major earner "entitled" to privilege. Perhaps most disturbing to many of their critics is their challenge to the sacredness of motherhood, i.e., to the belief that child rearing is the mother's first responsibility, and hers alone.
It is not surprising, therefore, that these women are viewed with such strong and mixed feelings: awe and admiration by some, envy or severe criticism by others. All the more reason, then, to study them through the ethnographic method, which attempts to avoid one's own biases and to learn about the success subculture and its inhabitants from their point of view. Learning about a subculture and the people who live in it does not mean that one must know a large number of people well. I chose five women --an arbitrary number-- to get a small spectrum of the functioning of successful