Often criticized in the past as well-intentioned but stagnant, corporate diversity departments at major organizations have never been so visible. With Google yesterday pledging a substantial sum to Code2040, a nonprofit fostering diversity in Technology, and several key players in Silicon Valley publishing their lackluster diversity data in 2014, those in charge of workforce mix are in the hot seat.
Sometimes the things we talk about most are the slowest to change.
Gender-parity work, or the goal of increasing women's representation as leaders, is no exception. We hear a lot about the wage gap, women's low numbers in top roles and various analogies for the barriers that exist.
When she started her MBA program at a top-10 school last year, Ramona Dickinson had every reason to think positively about business education. Bright-eyed and optimistic, Dickinson had one central expectation of her schooling: that she'd learn the essentials of leading a modern business in a stimulating, inclusive environment.
What Dickinson encountered instead was estrangement. She found herself negotiating a largely male-dominated program whose culture had an awfully close resemblance to that of a fraternity.
A bevy of research tells us that—even in the year 2013—professional women are regularly disparaged when they’re seen as too vocal.
The fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree. At least that’s what we thought when the daughters of working baby boomers flooded the job market. Gen Y women, boomers’ youngest working offspring, were expected to plunder the work world with unprecedented “uberdrive.” After all, they’ve seen their working moms make a living and raise a family; surely they’d take that formula and refine it, fueling it with even more wide-eyed drive. Gen Y women also present the most educated cohort of any before them, the least likely to see gender inequity as a problem at work, and report a voracious hunger for challenge on the job.
Years ago, Howard Stern quipped, “What is the best thing about having a woman boss?”
His answer: “You make more money than she does.”
Despite small gains, few disciplines continue to scream “man’s world” quite as much as engineering. It registers a noticeable shortage of female talent both on the job and in the pipeline. In 2008, for example, women made up more than half of working biological scientists but comprised only 11 percent of practicing engineers.
Business schools teach students that companies most often falter when they lose insight into their customer. When sales drop, a corporation must respond swiftly and adeptly, finding creative ways to get into the minds of consumers by matching or surpassing existing offerings to meet customers’ needs. Pretty commonly held business know-how, right?
Much ado has been made recently about the importance of sponsors, versus mentors, in the career advancement of women. Just this summer, Catalyst released a study, Sponsoring Women to Success , pointing to the fact that sponsorship may in fact be the single most critical strategy for accelerating a woman’s career.
I was delivering a talk on leadership to a room of 150 professional women when, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed the raised hand of the sole man in the room. The audience was asking about navigating the workplace as a woman, finding a mentor, taking risks. Then this lone male―Dave, I’d later learn―offered up a different kind of question: “What would you say to the father of a 13-year-old girl?”
I was without a quick answer.
If you want to have a truly unsatisfying conversation, try talking about how to find work/life balance. With around-the-clock, "anytime, anywhere" work models serving as the norm today, many of us want the elusive answers for making it all happen. Why can't the solutions be neatly wrapped in a simple how-to manual, checklist or training class?
When I wasn’t looking, there must have been a meeting of the world’s officials rendering the verdict that the glass ceiling has officially been shattered. Men and women are now equal.
Who was involved in this decision and how was such a consensus reached?
As an undergraduate at NYU, I was always curious about the intellectual sisterhood uptown, otherwise known as Barnard College students. The women's-only correlate to Columbia University, like many others of its ilk, has graduated several notable women and boasts a platinum academic track record.
Just what makes a workplace great?
It's a question more elusive than we might hope, given that many of us are versed in the dysfunctional work environment rather than the truly exceptional workplace. Fortunately, the research consultancy that ranks the Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For list--the Great Place to Work Institute--knows a thing or two about what builds trust and engagement on the part of workers. As a former employee of the firm, I experienced some of these impressive companies from the inside and learned about their unique DNA; I now anticipate the release of the annual list each January.
Each year, we read scads of articles on the status of women leaders in corporate America. These pieces educate readers about the difficulty women have attaining corporate board-ship, entry to the c-suite, and breaking into typically male roles like "CFO."
The onslaught of television shows targeted at teenage girls might lead you to believe that TV executives don't think highly of young women. At least that's the message implicit in much of the current programming.
Forty-five years after the women's movement started, women are finally penetrating upper most roles in business, government, and non-profit arenas. But progress hasn't charged ahead at the rate expected, nor have women reached top levels without forfeit or compromise.
Over the last 25 years we've heard different names for women's work predicaments : a maternal wall, a sticky floor, the mommy track, a labyrinth and, of course, the glass ceiling. Such monikers attempt to boil down in a neat, bite-size nugget some extraordinarily nuanced social dynamics. Has such language served to help women by uncovering veiled unfairness, or do these labels actually hinder progress?
With Mother's day around the corner, working moms have been on my mind. According to the Shriver Report released last year, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 made it illegal to fire a woman once she married and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 made it illegal to fire a woman just because she was pregnant; but neither required that women be granted maternity leave.
Where are all the women in media? Major publications have been asking this question of late, probing at the low number of female sources and experts in the news. It's been shown that while women represent the majority workforce and university degree holders, their presence in the news reached only 24 percent in 2010. The Global Media Monitoring Project, which reported the statistic, noted that "...the figure itself is a reminder that in the 'mirror of the world' depicted by the news media, the faces seen and the voices heard remain overwhelmingly those of men." Similarly, the Women's Media Center reports that on Sunday morning political talk shows (NBC's Meet the Press, ABC's This Week, CBS' Face the Nation and Fox Broadcasting's Fox News Sunday), male guests outnumber female guests four-to-one.
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