When Washington attorney Brooksley Landau's son was four years old, she overheard him playing "airplane" with a group of neighborhood children. "No, you can't be the pilot," he said to one little girl. "You can be a stewardess, a waitress, or a lawyer. Those are the things girls can be."

Because Nicky Landau's mother is a partner in the prestigious firm of Arnold & Porter and two other women on the Landaus' suburban block are also lawyers, he may have had a slightly skewed picture of reality, at least as the rest of the world sees it. But in Washington the reality is that, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more women are working and making more money than in any other place in the country.

Everywhere you go in Washington you see them - women in their late 20s to late 30s, well-dressed and carrying briefcases, in restaurants, in hotels, in the marble lobbies of office buildings, the long halls of government, the soft-carpeted offices of law firms. They are no longer "only" secretaries; they are executives, managers, high-salaried professionals - women on the way up. They are young enough to have benefited from the women's movement and old enough to remember what things were like before.

They were, in fact, just entering adolescence or just leaving college in 1963 when Betty Friedan published The Feminine Mystique, the book that provided the philosophical impetus for the women's movement. Since Friedan wrote that "the only way for a woman, as for a man, to find herself, to know herself as a person, is by creative work of her own," things have changed dramatically. From 1960 to 1978, the percentage of working women rose from 38 to 50 percent, with 2 million women entering the labor force in 1978 alone, 10 percent of them in professional or technical jobs. Law school enrollments have tripled since the early '70s - women now represent 30 percent of all law school students - and the number of women in medical school has doubled.

Such changes reflect what has become, in fact, the national policy, a policy enforced by law if not yet the Equal Rights Amendment. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 forbids both sexual and racial discrimination in employment, a statute that keeps an employer from hiring the first qualified white male who applies and requires him to provide equal opportunity for women.

And in Washington, where the federal government, which presumably practices what it preaches, is the chief employer and where labor bureau economists point to the "higher proportion of professional and managerial jobs available," 64 percent of women 16 and over are working or looking for work. Their median income is the highest in the country - $9,958, or almost $2,500 above the national average. And women college graduates in the District of Columbia, those most likely to be in higher salaried positions, earn an average of $14,367, almost $4,000 more than women elsewhere.

Such statistics will tell you how many women are working and what they are earning; the statistics will also tell you whether these women are married or single or divorced, whether they have children and of what age. What the statistics will not tell you is what these women are thinking and feeling, what is happening to them: how they see themselves, how they see their work, how they see the men and, sometimes, the children in their lives.

Because Washington women are working more and making more - and because Washington is a city of high-strung overachievers, "hyperactive adults," a government official recently called them - one would expect it to be a microcosm of the changes taking place throughout the country as women move into increasingly powerful positions. All the self-confidence and guilt, all the euphoria and despair. All the contradictions.

"There really has been a revlution" is a sentiment echoed all over town and in national polls and statistics. But it has not been an entirely bloodless coup. "I think there's a lot of resentment of women," says State Department lawyer Susan Kling, "a feeling that women are getting deals, that they're being jumped ahead just because they're women." Those kinds of resentments are bound to breed tension in the office. Said one man: "I just can't help it. I don't like to take orders from a woman. It makes me feel like a little boy again." Last year in Washington, for the first time, a man was charged (and later acquitted) with slugging his woman boss who had just fired him. Maybe it didn't have anything to do with her being a woman....

For the women themselves, says Washington psychiatric social worker Myrna Lewis, the biggest problem is that they are overworked: "I'm constantly amazed at how extraordinary women have to be to make it," Lewis says. "They carry tremendous loads. Not only do they have to work terribly hard at their jobs, but many of them are also struggling to hold onto what they perceive as the "female world.""

Lewis's female patients are struggling "to find a man who can handle their success, who understands what they're going through, who treats them as an equal." The men these women choose, Lewis observes, are "often dynamic, successful men who have a strong drive for power and who see the successful woman as competition."

In his practice, Washington psychoanalyst Douglas LaBier says that he frequently sees women who, "in order to become successful, have had to become like men, have had to develop head at expense of heart, and feel emotionally empty as a result." LaBier points out that feminist theorists have asserted that women exerting power would use it differently from men, neither destructively, violently nor possessively, a complex theory of "mother-right" based in part on the argument that there once existed a prehistoric matriarchy. Instead, says LaBier, because "the society is based on the domination of the strong over the weak, the woman who wants to "suceed" has to adopt those values too. Men tend to accept them because they've been trained in competition since childhood."

Is the Organizational Man, then, about to be replaced by the Organizational Woman? The full impact of the influx of women into the workplace, into positions of economic and political power, may not really be known for some time. Yet sociologists like Eli Ginzburg of Columbia University already beleive that it means "the most important social change of the 20th century."

What do Washington women at the forefront of that change think about their jobs and about themselves? Some won't say for publication, particularly women moving into the upper echelons of the federal government. "I'm perceived as such a threat here," said one high-ranking department officer, "that I would seriously compromise my effectiveness were I to tell you what I really think." Others were much more open about what's happening in their lives.

Who are they? These chief beneficiaries of the women's movement are now between the ages of 28 and 38. Last year each earned more than $30,000. And, although it was purely accidental, a majority turned out to be single. Candice Shy

"You know, you work with all these dynamic, ambitious men and sooner or later you meet their wives and they turn out to be pale, wan women who stay at home. Maybe," Candice Shy says, "ambitious, dynamic women are going to have to marry pale, wan men who work in shoe stores."

Candy Shy is 28, the $36,000-a-year director of federal relations for Enserch, a Dallas-based conglomerate whose major holding is Lone Star Gas Company, and she is speaking from experience. Two years ago she married a Baltimore lawyer whom she'd known for six weeks; they were divorced less than a year later. "I think my marriage was partly a response to the pressures of my job," she says. "I wanted someone outside Washington, someone not connected with this world." But those same pressures, plus the difficulties of geography, brought the marriage to an end. "His first wife had been the stay-at-home type and he didn't think he wanted that again," says Shy. "But I don't think he realized how seriously I took my job."

An earlier long-term relationship ended similarly. "Everything was okay as long as I was working as Charlie Wilson's [Rep. Charles Wilson (D-Tex)] press assistant, but then I moved to a much more demanding job assisting Charlie on energy issues and I decided to go to law school at night," Shy recalls. "The relationship just fell apart."

In 1975 for the first time in this country there were 1 million divorces. Last in Washington there were 3,389 divorces. It is impossible to say how many of them were related to women's careers, but Vassar College economist Shirley Johnson has calculated that every $1,000 increase in a wife's earnings increases her chances of divorce by 2 percent. Economic independence means emotional independence and higher expectations, says sociologist Caroline Bird: "The more money she earns, the less she has to lose if the marriage falls short of her expectations."

Power is a glittering prize and Washington the ultimate trophy room for a host of driven hunters, both male and female. "When you put together two people like that," Myrna Lewis observes, "there is bound to be a clash."

Candy Shy does not think of herself, she says, "as particularly ambitious," but if her career to date has had a certain element of luck, of reaping some of the rewards of the women's movement by being in the right place at the right time, she has also very shrewdly made opportunities for herself, like specializing in energy issues. "I already knew a lot of oil and gas people in Texas," she says. "I just went to Charlie and said, "Look, you need someone to do energy and I can do it."" Just as work on the administration's energy bill was drawing to a close last year, Shy landed the job with Enserch, a contact she had made in Wilson's office, after turning down an offer to work on congressional relations for the Department of Energy.

The money was the same, but the Enserch job offered much more "influence": "My main stipulation in taking it," Shy says, "was that I be given the responsibility for setting company policy as well as representing that policy to Congress." There has been talk, she says, that she will be made a vice president of the company after she completes her law degree next year. "I don't necessarily want to be a Strauss or a Kirbo," says Shy, "but I do want to have influence. I don't see how you can keep working otherwise."

And, she adds, "I like to be thought of as one of the boys, particularly in Washington. After all, this is still a man's town." Judi Hampton

"Too many women," says Judi Hampton, "sit around and wait for a job to come to them. They have the attitude they'll wait until something interesting comes along instead of realizing that they may have to pay their dues by working hard at a lower-level job that isn't "interesting" but will pay off later, will give them the credentials to move up."

Hampton, 36, who also works for an oil company - Mobil - in a position she created as director of consumer affairs, has followed that path. While on the staff of New York Mayor John Lindsay's Urban Task Force, she got funding for one of her projects from Mobil, parlayed that contact into a job helping Mobil develop a program to aid cities in solid waste disposal, was eventually appointed Mobil's first full-time media representative, saw the need for an environmental and consumer liaison and convinced the company to give her the job.

"My father [a St. Louis surgeon, now dead] always pushed us to do our best, to learn how to do things right and do them that way," Hampton says. "He had me working in his office, answering the phone, when I was 9."

The experience of having parents, particularly fathers, who encouraged their daughters as well as their sons to excel was common to most of the women interviewed for this article. Two were only children; the rest were either first or, like Judi Hampton, second daughters, and although several had brothers, none had an older brother. Most said they had never been told they could not do something because they were girls; several said they had been "surrogate sons." Various studies have indicated similar patterns for women achievers, including Margaret Hennig's research at the Harvard School of Business Administration (later incorporated into The Managerial Woman ) in which she studied a group of successful women business executives born between 1910 and 1915. All were first born, or in the virtual position of first born, or came from an all-girl family.

Like the women Hennig studied, Hampton's professional and personal life are closely interwoven. Once briefly married, she now sees a man with whom she shares a common interest in business. "I guess if that were taken away, if we didn't have that to talk about," she says, "there wouldn't be much to our relationship." Jeanie Henry

"I have a lot of things to do before I get old," Jeanie Henry says confidently, "and there's no time to waste." She read recently, in fact, that successful people were "very goal-oriented" and "didn't waste a minute of their time socializing at the office."

A few months short of her 28th birthday, Henry has wasted no time in becoming a vice president of the brokerage firm of Ferris & Company, which she joined two years ago. Last year she made $45,000 and plans to increase her production by 50 percent each year; she sets monthly production goals for herself and gets "very upset" if she doesn't meet them.

In many ways, Jeanie Henry is typical of a younger generation of successful women from well-educated, middle-class backgrounds. She was only 11 when The Feminine Mystique appeared, and she already had a strong role model in her mother, a co-lege professor (an occupation, it turned out, of three of the mothers of women interviewed). Her father, a Ph.D. in engineering, also encouraged her, and she grew up expecting to have a successful career and a successful marriage. She married her high school sweetheart, a cost analyst, and they recently bought a house. He just finished a master's degree in business administration, she is working on one. They "share everything" and have "what you might call a perfect life."

Whether it can remain perfect probably depends in large part on the individuals involved, although Caroline Bird points out that problems often hit after age 30 when couples begin to realize "that the more successful they become, the less time they will have for each other." That is also the time that "the baby panic" often hits. "We have lots of time to think about that," Henry says. "We have the advantage of having known each other so long that I think we can work anything out." Jill Wine-Volner

At 36, Jill Wine-Volner is a survivor of a kind of sexism that younger women like Jeanie Henry say they have not experienced. Soon after the former Watergate prosecutor was named general counsel to the army, she encountered a man who tried to hide his surprise with "falttery." "But you're too cute to be the Army's lawyer!" he exclaimed. Replied Wine-Volner, "And too smart not to be."

She is a woman who began to make it in what, even in the mid-'60s, was basically a man's world. Women made up only 5 percent of her class at Columbia Law School; she was the first woman in the organized crime section of the Justice Department, the only woman on the Watergate prosecution staff. When she entered the field of criminal trial law, there were virtually no women in the field, and even now only about 2 percent of criminal lawyers are women. In early days in the courtroom, male opponents sometimes tried to use her sex and youth to discredit her. "They would refer to me as "the young lady" instead of "my esteemed colleague,"" she recalls. "Or I'd hand them a piece of evidence and they'd say "What a lovely perfume!" just loudly enough for the jury to hear." She once elbowed a lawyer who took her arm to help her up the steps to the judge's bench.

Wine-Volner is one of 11 women appointed by President Carter to high-level positions at the Pentagon (there had been only two women in comparable jobs there since World War II). She took a cut in pay from her position as a partner in the law firm of Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Kampelman to go to the Pentagon because "it was a terrific challenge and something I'd never done before," she says. "I thought it was important to have women in these positions. And I guess I'm fascinated by power."

Few would question the power of Jill Wine-Volner's job as head of what is billed as "the largest law fimr in the world" - 2,500 lawyers report to the general counsel."It hasn't been as difficult as I expected," she says. "I had already earned a reputation for competence before I came here and officers at the Pentagon are used to taking orders."

She concedes, however, that "women must work harder to prove themselves, to show that they know what they're doing," an attitude not surprising in women who have moved virtually alone into traditionally male professions.

Women who make it, Wine-Volner believes, have a responsibility to other women, "to help each other and to offer role models for younger women," something she didn't have. "I'll drop whatever I'm doing to take a phone call from a girlfirend in distress," she says.

Last year she separated from her husband, lawyer Ian Volner, although she prefers to keep the reasons for the separation private. "I do think," she says, "that for a woman more than for a man - although I think that's changing some - it's important to have a life outside one's job." Sue Simmons

"Marriage isn't so important to me - maybe because my parents were divorced and my mother remarried several times - but having a relationship with one person is," says Sue Simmons, newscaster NBC-owned WRC-TV, Channel 4.

One of the things, in fact, that she likes best about her job is that "I'm not overworked, I'm not hassled, I know the politics of the place, and I have time to concentrate on my personal life." Her personal life, she says, "is in good shape right now."

It has not always been easy. "I've lost two fellows I cared about because I've moved to take a new job," she says. "At first you go back and forth on weekends but it gets harder and harder and pretty soon you're not doing it anymore."

The liabilities of her job do not, however, outweigh the benefits, and she laughs when she observes that her "problems" wouldn't seem like problems "to the welfare line." Economic independence is a major goal. Simmons, now "over 30," was in her late 20s and working as a secretary in her native New York when she "suddenly woke up and realized that Prince Charming hadn't come riding along and that I could work for years as a secretary and be lucky to get a $10-a-week raise every year."

She now makes "over $50,000," but she is aware that television is an uncertain and fickle business, and she would like to "make enough money and invest it wisely so that if the day ever comes when NBC wants me to do something I don't want to do, I can say, "Thank you, it's been a nice association, and good-bye.""

She is aware, too, that economic independence changes the nature of personal relationships. "Women can't be bribed anymore," Sue Simmons says. "A man can no longer say, "Stick with me, baby, and I'll take you to the Bahamas," or "I'll give you a Mercedes." We can do those things for ourselves now." Brooksley Landau

"I think I'm lucky that I never cared too much," says Brooksley Landau. "I've seen people who would do anything to get ahead. I think if I'd cared that much I would have eventually cracked up. I always knew I had something else. I knew I had Jack [her husband, Jack Landau, head of the Reporters' Committee for Freedom of the Press], that he loved me and could support me. I didn't have to have all this."

It is an attitude that many women could not afford to have. Almost half the women in the labor force, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, have never been married or are separated, divorced or widowed; in the District of Columbia the percentage is higher - only one-third of the working women are listed in the "married, husband present" category.

But Brooksley Landau, 38, has always been special: she was first in her law school class at Stanford and president of the law review, held a prestigious federal clerkship, was made a partner in Arnold & Porter during a time when she was working only three days a week because she had small children, and was the first woman appointed to the American Bar Association's federal judiciary committee.

A less exceptional - or less affluent - woman might not have been able to do what Landau has done. Landau's husband is a "terrific father," but what "makes it all possible" is a full-time live-in housekeeper who even does the shopping and drives children to music lessons or doctor's appointments. Because someone else manages the household, the Landaus can spend their free time "doing things with the children."

For other mothers, things are not so easy. "Before this job I had always worked," said one high-level Carter administration appointee, "but I had never had such a demanding job. Now I just can't carry the whole thing and it's been a very painful process of re-education for all of us." She and her husband have tried to divide responsibilities so that when things are particularly busy for her at work he carries the major responsibility for the family and vice versa. Still, she is the one who usually has to take off work to take a sick child to the doctor or to attend a program at a child's school.

"The pressures on parents and on children in this society are so enormous, and in Washington especially, most of us are the kind of people who simply don't know how to relax and enjoy our children." Susan Kling

"I like to play fast and loose," says Susan Kling. "I've always done sort of weird things, not "careerist" things."

At 30, she is about to do what some of her colleagues, not to mention staunch feminists, no doubt consider the wierdest, most noncareerist thing of all. At the end of the summer she is giving up her job as foreign service officer and lawyer in the business and economic division of the legal adviser's office of the State Department to marry a British government lawyer she met last year in Paris during negotiations for a multinational corporate bribery treaty. She will move to England, continue to practice law and have, she hopes, two children.

Kling once turned down a coveted special assistant's job in the office of a top department officer because she was in psychoanalysis - an hour a day four days a week - and the job would have meant working 14-hour days, traveling frequently and as a result "would've screwed up my therapy."

It's not, she explains, that she doesn't want positions of responsibility, influential positions. "I like to manipulate myself into positions of power," she says, "it's just that it has to be something I care about, that is, above all, interesting.

"I just don't believe that the only way to "make it" is to make it by the old rules," she adds. "There's an element of defensiveness in saying I'm only successful if I beat the bastards at their own game."

One of the noncareerist things she enjoyed most was the year she spent on loan from the State Department to run a policy discussion group for the Carnegie Endowment, a job she calls "a mandate to cause trouble."

Nor was it the usual thing for a foreign service officer to joing the legal adviser's office. "People in the foreign service kept telling me it wasn't good for my career," she says."That's a byword for "we don't like it.""

She would probably not be leaving and planning to get married, though, were it not for those four years in psychoanalysis. "Most of the women I know have been in analysis. I went into it because I had a certain ambivalence about success," she says. "On the one hand, women have been told to succeed; but on the other hand, not too much. I wanted to figure out what to do with my life."

Her fiance is "certainly different from any other man I've ever been involved with." They kept looking at each other across the negotiating table until finally she asked him to lunch. "I think I really fell in love with him one day last summer when I met him at the airport in Geneva," she says. "I was really in a state. I said, "I don't want to marry you. I don't want to see you again. Get out of my life." He just said, "Oh, you've had a bad week, haven't you? Besides, you're really scared." Most men would've been furious."

British men are, she thinks, "more relaxed about women than American men, less concerned with roles." She and her fiance have agreed that he will share responsibilities for housework and children and that should she be very unhappy living in England, they will return to the U.S.

"It's really funny, you know," she says, smiling, "one of the grim, Yale types came into my office the other day. He was frowning very intently, and he said, "Why are you always so happy?" I think what he was really saying is "I've done everything right, so why aren't I happy?""

Although Susan Kling may be unusual in her rejection of "careerist" values, again and again women said they wanted jobs that were "interesting" and "challenging" as opposed to jobs that were chosen for prestige or money. Most of them spoke of the importance of their personal lives, specifically their relationships with men. As one GS-15 put it, "No job can replace that intimacy." They had, however, very definite ideas about what kind of man they were looking for - "someone secure in his own identity" - and a slightly rueful sense that "there aren't enough of them around."

If the Organizational Man is not being replaced by the Organizational Woman, it is probably because the kind of ambition that role calls for is less and less the norm. Professor Regina Herzlinger of the Harvard Business School observes that her students, both male and female, seem most concerned with jobs that offer "personal growth" and attributes the change in attitude to a "slow-growth" economy. "They figure that they're going to be reasonably secure," she says, "but that they're never going to be rich, so why not concentrate on personal growth."

If Washington, where more women are working for more money and where less than one third of them are married, is any indicator, the future will be a very different place. The Urban Institute expects that, if present rates remain constant, two-thirds of American women will be working by 1990, and most sociologists agree that they will have fewer children. The birth rate has already dropped significantly - in 1977 there were 15 million more women than in 1957 yet they had 1.1 million fewer babies. This declining birth rate is not as much due to the availability of birth control as it is to the increasing employment of women, according to a 1978 Rand study for the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

"Relieved of the burden of young dependents," says sociologist Bird, "individuals can afford to choose jobs that pay in satisfaction in terms of the work itself rather than in the promise of consumption or power.... Equality in marriage, choice over work, and fewer, more wanted, people are some of the consequences that can flow from the economic independence of women."

Perhaps most telling of all is that younger women, particularly, do not think of themselves as pioneers; they are not, in fact, much concerned with their roles as women per se. They simply assume that they will be judged on their merits as individuals, and they could no more imagine life without work of one's own than their male counterparts could. "I think of myself as a whole person," said one. "It just never occurs to me to think of myself as "behaving like a man" or "behaving like a woman." If things aren't always easy, it's because life isn't easy for anyone." CAPTION: Cover photograph by Mike Mitchell.; Picture 1, Candice Shy, Above, shrewdly made opportunities for herself in the energy field; Picture 2, Newscaster Sue Simmons, left, seeks economic independence in the fickle business of television. Picture 3, through 10, no caption