A Woman Has To Be Twice as Good as a Man To Go Half as Far

Fannie Hurst? Joan Lowell? Jack Lewis? Lewis Browne? Myrtelle L. Gunsul? Lilias F. Evans? Anna Judge Vetters Levy? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: Fannie Hurst was popular novelist who was born in 1885. She believed that women faced greater obstacles to professional success than men. Apparently, she employed the following expression:

A woman must be twice as good as a man to get half as far.

Do you know whether she coined this remark? Would you please explore its provenance?

Quote Investigator: Fannie Hurst did help to popularize this statement by using it on multiple occasions. For example, in 1943 she attended the National Conference of Women sponsored by “The New York Times” and said the following. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 1

Fannie Hurst, novelist, deplored comparative lack of leadership that women have shown through past ages. “Our much vaunted strength is largely wordage,” she said. “A woman still has to be twice as good as a man in order to get half as far.”

Yet, Hurst did not craft this saying; it was already in circulation. Interestingly, in 1927 an analogous expression was applied to black boxers by a promoter who was quoted in a Nebraska newspaper: 2

All of which leads Genial Jack Lewis to remark, with justification, that a Negro pug must be twice as good as a white fist-fighter to get half as far.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading A Woman Has To Be Twice as Good as a Man To Go Half as Far


  1. 1943 April 27, Miami Daily News, Women Will Have New World Status by Beth Blair, Quote Page 11A, Column 5, Miami, Florida. (Newspapers_com)
  2. 1927 April 21, The Omaha World-Herald, Section: Sports, The Sportolog by Frederick Ware, Quote Page 3, Column 1, Omaha, Nebraska. (GenealogyBank)