Women in Power

2018 – An Amazing Year for Powerful Women in Politics

Woman holding sign in crowd that says Volting is my Super PowerWhen women and girls are empowered to participate fully in society, everyone benefits. ~ Melinda Gates

In 2018, women across the country were elected to a record number of local and statewide offices. The “Pink Wave” also swept across the nation in midterm elections that carried young women and veterans to victory in Senate and governors’ races and brought some major breakthroughs for women of color. Some of the big winners of the year were seasoned leaders, like Michigan governor-elect Gretchen Whitmer, and Kansas governor-elect Laura Kelly. But many of the toughest House races were won by political neophytes taking their first steps into electoral politics.

The “firsts” this year included: 

  • Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Iham Omar of Minnesota became the first and second Muslim women elected to Congress.
  • Deb Haaland of Arizona and Sharice Davids of Kansas became the first two Native American women elected to Congress. Davids also made history as the first openly LGBT woman of color in Congress.
  • Ayanna Pressley became Massachusetts’ first black congresswoman.
  • New York’s Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a 29-year-old progressive, won in a shocking upset.
  • Veronica Escobar and Sylvia Garcia became Texas’s first two Latina congresswomen.
  • Lou Leon Guerrero became the first woman governor of Guam.
  • Angie Craig became the first openly lesbian mother in Congress and the first openly LGBT member of Congress from Minnesota.
  • Jahana Hayes, a former schoolteacher, became Connecticut’s first black congresswomen.
  • Young Kim of California became the first Korean American woman in Congress.
  • Marsha Blackburn became Tennessee’s first woman elected to the Senate.
  • Janet Mills in Maine, Kim Reynolds in Iowa, and Kristi Noem in South Dakota became the first female governors for their states.

The 2018 election cycle was also the first following the defeat of the first woman presidential candidate of a major party. In this cycle, many women saw a need to change the status quo and volunteered to run without being recruited. They also ran differently. Instead of putting on the power suit and spouting resume talking points, they featured their children in ads, offered personal testimony about sexual harassment and abuse, and opened up about family struggles, drug abuse and debt. Their openness connected with many facing the same struggles, and their authenticity paid off.

According to figures compiled by the Center for American Progress in November 2018:

  • A record number – at least 126 women so far ­– have won seats in the US Congress (three races remain uncalled by the Associated Press).
  • A historic high of 43 women of color were elected to Congress, along with at least three who identify as LGBTQ.
  • The number of women serving in state legislatures will exceed 2,000 for the first time ever.
  • The number of women governors rose by 50 percent, from six to nine.

More Gains to be Made

These are exciting numbers and historic wins, but we clearly still have a significant leadership gap. As of January 2019, women will still represent less than one fourth of members of Congress, both in the House and the Senate. Although they will hold 28 percent of seats in state legislatures, women hold only 18 percent of governorships, and, as of August 2018, are less than a quarter of the mayors of America’s 100 largest cities. To be clear, women make up slightly more than one half the population.

We must continue our support of women doing the hard work of holding elected office and encourage women to run and especially to run again. One defeat means nothing in a political career. EMILY’s List, VoteRunLead, and She Should Run all reported a huge surge in women interested in running in this cycle. These women who mustered their courage demonstrated that women are truly ready to lead, and that the people are ready to elect them in their communities, states, and nation. We need to celebrate these women who are paving the way, and help others follow their lead.

We can also encourage and inspire our daughters, granddaughters, and young women in our communities. There are a number of organizations that will make good use of our time, talent and treasure. For example, Girls Inc. has chapters nationwide and works to inspire all girls to be strong, smart, and bold. The Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers has an initiative dedicated to making women’s public leadership visible to the next generation, with programs set up nationwide, called Teach a Girl to LeadTM. The Sue Shear Institute for Women in Public Life at University of Missouri St. Louis prepares college women and has even hosted a Girls’ Summit for middle schoolers.  Ask around in your community for opportunities to mentor and engage at a local level, and if you don’t find any, join with other women to start one.

Ultimately, we want 2018’s “Pink Wave” to close the leadership gap and make our voices heard on every level. Women leaders change the game. We do indeed need at least half our leaders to be women, and by working together we can make it happen. Just think how that will change our country and the world!

I Am A Superwoman

What an exciting time to be a woman! Everywhere super women are coming together to make a difference in the world. I am thrilled to announce that “I Am A Superwoman” and to add to the powerful voices you can hear at the “I Am A Superwoman” Equality & Empowerment Weekend.This amazing day-long summit and inaugural Red-Carpet Gala at the Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles both celebrates our progress and puts our combined muscle (men and women) behind the movement for the kind of culture change that will end abuse and violence toward women and children, global human trafficking and continued inequality. It’s time for women to step forward and lead this foundational shift in our culture and stimulate a re-education and recalibration of society for the sake of our children and our children’s children.

As part of my mission to support women through my foundation, WomenConnect4Good, Inc., and Take The Lead, where I now serve as President of the Board, I am honored to kick off the event with the opening keynote, and be a beacon for women to get their S on and accept personal responsibility to be agents of change at this critical time in history. The Summit is stacked with inspirational speakers and special guests who target female and male entrepreneurs, business leaders, executives and change-makers. The day will be brimming with new ideas and opportunities to brainstorm solutions and network with some of the most dynamic speakers in their field.

Get your tickets now for Friday, August 24, 2018. Basic attendance is $222. Enhanced attendance ($359) gets you a three-course lunch at the Beverly Hilton with VIPs, and the opportunity to get to know the special guests invited to share their passion and wisdom.

Step out Saturday night on the Golden Globe Red Carpet at the international ballroom of the Beverly Hilton [www.superwomancampaign.org/RedCarpetGalaTickets/] and enjoy The “I Am a Superwoman” Red Carpet Gala & Auction. It will be a night to remember! Tickets include dinner, live entertainment, red carpet glamour plus an incredible LIVE auction featuring lots of celebrity memorabilia including the late Whitney Houston’s piano. The Schimmel was her pride and joy. It was the first piano she ever owned in fact she purchased it with her first royalty check!

I am so pleased to join SHEROESUnited, founded by my amazing Leading Women co-author Bridget Cook Burch in this effort to create change on a global scale. Besides the extraordinary personal insights and inspiration, “I Am Superwoman” Empowerment and Equality Weekend, benefits organizations like SHEROESUnited, a 501c3 organization creating a “Global Movement of Women Who DARE to Change the World through Love.” Sheroes are women who have done heroic things in extraordinary circumstances and become victors, not victims.
Please accept my personal invitation to join us, be a Superwoman, a leader for change. Put your S on and meet other powerful women and men like you at the Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles. Get your tickets here. Busy that weekend? You can still join the movement. Check this post and learn how to participate via social media. And to donate directly, click here.
I sincerely hope to see you there, August 24-25. I’ll have my S on!
~Dr. Nancy

Champions for Change

Speaker, Author

Trudy Bourgeois

Trudy Bourgeois urges women to become champions for change. Trudy is a renowned and respected authority on leadership development and founder of The Center for Workforce Excellence, which transforms organizations through focusing on developing leadership skills with an emphasis on learning how to develop talent across differences. She built her outstanding reputation by experiencing a lifetime of “firsts.” Growing up African American during segregation in the South provided her ample opportunities to strive for equality and simultaneously check each advancement off for herself and other women like her. She says that she is grateful for each of her “firsts” because they help her understand how to help people get to their next level and reach their greatest potential.
When Trudy was the first woman of color vice president in the tobacco industry, diversity and inclusion weren’t even business concepts. Women were told they were too collaborative; they needed to be more strategic.  Now, she says that we’re in the fourth industrial revolution where technology outpaces technology and we can only out-distance the competition by investing in our people—our most important resource—and bringing everyone together. Companies who don’t leverage their talent and ability to change will not be in business long in this new competitive environment

Equality Depends on Having Courageous Conversations

In her third book, EQUALITY: Courageous Conversations about Women, Men, AND Race in the Workplace to Spark a Diversity and Inclusion Breakthrough, Trudy describes “5 Brutal Facts for Obtaining Equality.” She lists the old paradigms that used to work for companies, including outdated leadership models where leaders don’t understand “how to manage the most diverse workforce in history,” and points out how most of the research has been done on men and most of the research that includes women, focuses on white women. Bottom line, although there’s a lot of talk about diversity, leaders are not held accountable for leading in inclusive ways.
But women can change all that. Trudy discusses how the pendulum is swinging back the other way from the 90% white male power structure to an awakening of the female spirit with the #MeToo movement. She says that for a long time, when women rose to the top, they didn’t want to admit they were women. They took on the male persona. But that is changing and organizations are gaining an appreciation for the natural skills that women have exhibited all along.

Women Must Reach Out to Other Women

Trudy talks a lot in her new book and in this conversation about how women need to step up as thought leaders and be champions for change with no apology. Women haven’t been told we are good. We need to do that for ourselves and for other women. She encourages women to reach out and “pour into another woman” whenever there is an opportunity. Reach out to someone who is not like yourself. She also urges women to listen and learn. In her book, she uses the example of how Marilyn Monroe gave Ella Fitzgerald a hand-up by sitting in the front row of her nightclub performances to get her career started in clubs that wouldn’t hire a black singer. We may never have heard the name of Ella Fitzgerald, or more importantly never received the gift of her voice without another woman using her privilege to pour into another woman.
Listen to this interview to learn more about how Trudy says women must come to grips with our own biases and work together for equality. Check out her social media pages, her website http://workforceexcellence.com/, read her blog at Huffington Post, and get her amazing book to learn more about how she says we can be champions for change by reaching an olive branch out to someone who isn’t exactly like us.

Speak Your Truth with Personal Passion

Rabbi Laurie Coskey

Women should speak their truth about whatever incites their personal passion, urges Rabbi Laurie Coskey, Ed.D., whether that is the environment, the homeless, prejudice against various groups—in whatever way you can. It may mean joining the Rotary in your community (Laurie is a long-time member); you might join the PTA; you could volunteer at a victim’s center. Whatever stirs your passion, reach out to others and work together to make positive change. As a social justice advocate, Laurie’s lifework is to obtain fairness and dignity for everyone and she works tirelessly to achieve it for people who don’t have enough power to do it for themselves..
Her commitment to improving the lives of those in need is inspired by her Jewish background, her chosen vocation of rabbi, and her belief that the greatest gift we have to give one another is our love. In that regard, she serves on various boards in San Diego including the Interfaith Worker Justice. Her work there inspired her powerful TEDx Talk about the San Diego interfaith clergy who reached out to officials to stop disappearing immigrants and their families in 2007.

To Create Real Change, We Must Change the Systems.

Laurie realized the importance of changing systems, which she chose as the subject for her doctoral study. She continues to win victories for the issues she is passionate about through negotiation and teamwork. As an advocate, she learned not to lead the people who need her advocacy, but instead to walk beside them and help amplify their voices.
In this interview, she tells a heroic story about janitorial workers in office buildings organizing for better working conditions. The women who do the work are often single mothers who may speak little or no English and they work for male supervisors at night, who can control them through rewards or penalties based on sexual favors. These courageous, powerless women overcame their fear and stood up and spoke out. They do not participate in the #MeToo movement, but the activists who are helping them did appear at the Grammy Awards this year. Things are changing, Laurie says, one squeaky wheel at a time.

Our Lives Will Change When Women Become Legislators

Dr. Nancy and Rabbi Laurie share their concern that women’s perspective is often ignored. The male perspective has created our current system and to change it women must get involved. Besides getting involved in our communities, Laurie encourages women to run for public office, while admitting that it is a huge commitment to serve in elected office. Things really will not change until we make different policies, which women can do by winning elected office at their community, state or national level. She stresses that with so few women at the top of our organizations, it’s time for women not just to integrate, but to lead. That is when we will see significant change that affects everyone’s daily lives.
Listen to this interview for more wonderful stories about Laurie’s life and experiences. She invites anyone who would like a personal rabbi (Jewish or not) to contact her via twitter, Facebook or Linked-In. She is happy to listen and reply. Check out this news video about Laurie’s work in San Diego for more inspiration about what a difference community involvement can make.

50 Women CAN Change the World

Founder See Jane Do

Elisa Parker


Media maven Elisa Parker travels the world to connect people through their stories. Founder and host of the radio show, See Jane Do, she is a dedicated activist for women, social justice and the environment, which is why she became a Take the Lead Ambassador almost two years ago and co-launched the initiative, 50 Women Can Change the World in Media and Entertainment with fellow Ambassador Tabby Biddle.  Elisa says that 50 Women Can is a game changer, as media creates how women and girls see themselves in our culture. To write a new history for women’s leadership, the storytellers have to be women, telling stories to empower women and show them how they can use their intrinsic power.

Feminine Power

Elisa’s own story about redefining power came when she left her high-paying job and had to become reliant on her husband’s income. She suddenly had to re-evaluate her value and self-worth. As a result, when she created See Jane Do, she sought to share stories to help women identify their own self-worth without regard to position and income and base their leadership potential on more intrinsic qualities. Now, she says we’re at a paradigm shift and are redefining the essence of power: power can be love, relationships and shared resources. Women increase their power when they come together and support one another to work toward the same goal. It’s about power with and power to, not about power over.
That is the momentum behind 50 Women Can Change the World in Media and Entertainment. As a Take the Lead Initiative, 50 Women follows a format where 50 women are nominated to be THE women in their field that can change the world to help achieve gender parity by 2025 (the mission of Take the Lead). Dr. Nancy put the support of WomenConnect4Good, Inc. behind the Media and Entertainment initiative to help transform the way women and girls see themselves. Until the stories about women are told by women, we remain stuck in the patriarchal system that holds women back.

The Progress of 50 Women Can

Elisa is very excited about the progress and the way this initiative works. The 50 women are just now being notified if they were selected, and Elisa credits the advisory committee with helping to produce an incredible cross section of women. Specifically, they wanted to choose from those women who have the most influence in shaping the story, which includes being able to develop, support and fund the content. In other words, they wanted to bring together women who are really making the decisions for female-led and female-centered content. Representatives ranged from executives representing most of the major networks, to women who have their own production studios, who are producers, directors, writers, cinematographers, and so on. The group is diverse, and ranges throughout ages, abilities and races. In the end, there were at least 40% women of color, as opposed to the 12% that represents the industry at large.
The selection process is only the beginning. The goal is for these 50 women to put their expertise in one place and use it to change the dynamics of the stories that show women what they can be. In this interview, Dr. Nancy talked about “Hidden Figures” and what it meant to budding girl-scientists. In fact, there were many women’s voices speaking out this year in the kind of unison that gets things done.

Perfect Timing

With the #Metoo movement, Elisa said that she feels like they are embracing the controversy at this very moment. However, she also stressed that they need their “man fans,” and count among their partners male advocates that are helping as well. As they move forward into their next phase, they will fine tune the program. The 50 women will most likely break out in smaller groups to co-create something together. What they will do will ultimately be determined by them.
Stay tuned for announcement of the winners and more about the progress. Listen to this interview for more inside stories about how Elisa and Gloria met, and how Tabby Biddle and Elisa came to launch 50 Women. Check out the interviews and other posts on See Jane Do,  and more. These are exciting times, and Elisa and Dr. Nancy both urge you to participate. Women can do anything together.
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2018 To Be Another “Year of the Woman”

“You have to act as if it were possible to radically change the world. And you have to do it all the time.”Angela Davis
While 2017 was a tough year, it was also one of a great deal of progress. It was in 2017 that women made their voices heard in unprecedented numbers. From the Women’s March on Washington to the floodgates opened with the #MeToo movement, women are proving that they are no longer willing to remain silent, and the momentum of change is fast and far reaching.
TIME Magazine named “The Silence Breakers” as the magazine’s Person of the Year, in a nod to the women coming forward to accuse powerful men of sexual harassment and assault, and not only for the global conversation, but the movement they began. Stephanie Zacharek, Eliana Dockterman, and Haley Sweetland Edwards write in TIME that, “This reckoning appears to have sprung up overnight. But it has actually been simmering for years, decades, centuries. Women have had it with bosses and co-workers who not only cross boundaries but don’t even seem to know that boundaries exist. They’ve had it with the fear of retaliation, of being blackballed, of being fired from a job they can’t afford to lose. They’ve had it with the code of going along to get along. They’ve had it with men who use their power to take what they want from women.”
While the fight for equality, justice and dignity for women started with the suffragettes, the events of this past year have made a similar impact, and women are taking their message to the streets, the internet, and the workplace. Retired US Senator Barbara Boxer writes in USA Today, “As we say goodbye to the chaos of 2017 and its seemingly never-ending turmoil about…well everything…I believe it is possible, maybe even probable, that we will see 2018 turn into another Year of the Woman.”
Senator Dianne Feinstein agrees and has also been quoted as saying that 2018 could be another big year for women. Predicting that female candidates could sweep elections across the country, she recently told party officials at the California Democratic Party Executive Board meeting that, “Based on what I see out there that we are going to have another Year of the Woman.”
“What it means is that we have an opportunity to really turn this next year into a year of change affecting women,” she added.
So how can we best position ourselves to help make that change? Here are a few places we could start.
Support the women speaking out. As Melinda Gates writes in TIME, “2017 is proving to be a watershed moment for women in the workplace and beyond. Instead of being bullied into retreat or pressured into weary resignation, we are raising our voices—and raising them louder than ever before. What’s more, the world is finally listening.” Right now, women are feeling emboldened by the actions of others to step up and say, “me too” and to share their stories. Many high-profile men facing sexual misconduct allegations right now aren’t denying them. The allegations aren’t limited to the glitz and glamour of Hollywood, or the hallowed halls of Congress. The problem is far more wide-reaching than one man, or even one industry. This has impacted women in every industry and every walk of life, and is finally experiencing the spotlight of public attention and, more importantly, action, it deserves. Right now, we need to listen to the women who are speaking out, and create environments that are safe for all women and men.
Support the women running for office. EMILY’s List, VoteRunLead, and She Should Run have all reported a huge surge in women interested in running for office. As these women muster their courage and support and take the first steps to run for office, it demonstrates that this truly is a woman’s time to lead. It’s important in this time of unprecedented female engagement that we support the women who are running, and those who have run, perhaps already won, already hold office, and are serving in their communities, states, and nation on every level. We need to celebrate the women who have paved the way, and support those who prepare to follow their lead.
Make your voice heard. Whether in the workplace or in the community, it’s up to all of us to recognize what makes us effective communicators, learn from our differences, and create a supportive, collaborative environment where women and men have equal floor time. As women, we can’t unlock our full potential in the workplace, in the community, or in our homes until we gain recognition for our ideas and build a world where equality isn’t the exception, but the rule.
Work towards gender equality. The solution to much of what has been coming out of the #MeToo movement could be solved by having more women in leadership positions. The problems we face today – from our local communities to the workplace, and the global stage – require diverse leaders who have a variety of skill sets. Women bring the additional skills needed, as well as a different perspective to drive effective solutions. In short, female leaders change the game. By recognizing that we do indeed need more women in leadership, and working together to help women gain confidence and the skills they need to overcome barriers and reach their goals, we truly can change the world into one of 50/50 parity, where both genders value each contribution and shed the harmful effects of living in a male-dominated culture.
In 2017 we have seen an unbelievable progress towards gender equality, however, we will still need to continue to fight and work hard to claim equal rights for women. That is going to take all of us working together, and joining forces with the women and men in our lives who, like us, feel that equality shouldn’t be a lofty goal, but a way a life.

One Way to Achieve Gender Diversity in The Workplace

It’s no surprise that Women in the Workplace 2017, a report from McKinsey and LeanIn.org., found that women remain underrepresented at every level in corporate America, despite earning more college degrees than men for 30 years and counting. There is definitely a need to do more, and most organizations realize this, which accounts for the fact that company commitment to gender diversity is at an all-time high for the third year in a row.
Women in the Workplace researchers write that, “One of the most powerful reasons for the lack of progress is a simple one: we have blind spots when it comes to diversity, and we can’t solve problems that we don’t understand clearly. Many employees think women are well represented in leadership when they see only a few. And because they’ve become comfortable with the status quo, they don’t feel any urgency for change. Further, many men don’t fully grasp the barriers that hold women back at work. As a result, they are less committed to gender diversity, and we can’t get there without them.”
While the workforce may be waking up to the fact that talented women can contribute at least as much as men in the organization, progress is still slow. In fact, Women in Workplace researchers even speculate that progress has stalled.
Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO and author of Lean In, wrote in The Wall Street Journal that despite companies’ growing commitment to gender diversity, “It’s hard to solve a problem we don’t fully see or understand—and when it comes to gender in the workplace, too often we miss the scope and scale of the issue.”
Sandberg concludes that businesses can’t “afford to leave talent on the sidelines,” but that we “won’t unlock the full potential of the workplace until we see how far from equality we really are.”
Rather than focusing on who, and who isn’t, in the C-suite, Women in the Workplace researchers first examined the corporate pipeline, starting from entry-level professional positions. Their findings show that fewer women than men are hired at the entry level, despite women representing 57 percent of recent college graduates. Researchers also found that inequality starts with the very first round of promotions. In fact, the biggest gender gap occurs at the first step up to manager. From the very beginning of their careers, entry-level women are 18 percent less likely to be promoted than their male peers. This entry-level gender disparity has a dramatic effect on the pipeline as a whole. If entry-level women were promoted at the same rate as their male peers, the number of women at the senior vice president and C-suite levels would more than double
This is where we can start to raise awareness and focus our energies. Why are women underrepresented? Look at a company’s hiring practices and first round of promotions. To make advancement available to more women we actually need to get more women in the pipeline, and not just seeking the jobs, but looking for advancement opportunities from the very beginning. We need to make the workplace welcoming for both genders in order to make this happen. As Kelly Stickel, CEO & Founder of Remondista writes at GirlTalk HQ, “The companies that identify the value of the female workforce will win. The ones that cultivate an environment that is inclusive of the female leader, will win bigger. Why is it important to make everyone feel welcome? When people feel welcome they perform better, more ideas come to the surface, leaving you with more options for solutions.”
We need to do more than simply nod at inclusivity and representation; we need to actually change hiring practices and look closely at the workplace culture. The ability to collaborate and welcome every individual, male and female, is crucial for success in the global economy. We need women from all walks of life to apply for the jobs, put in for the promotions, and take the lead to engage this untapped resource of feminine leadership.

We Need More Women in Leadership

The world needs more women in leadership. The problems we face today – from our local communities to the workplace, and the global stage – require diverse leaders who have a variety of skill sets. Women bring the additional skills needed, as well as a different perspective to drive effective solutions. In short, female leaders change the game, and in many cases, change the way the world does business.
Perhaps one of the best snapshots of where we are, and how far we have to go, is the Women in the Workplace report from McKinsey and LeanIn.org. This year’s report, which was just released, has results from 222 companies that completed a survey of human resource practices and shared pipeline data for their total combined workforce of more than 12 million people. More than 70,000 employees also completed a survey about their experiences regarding gender, opportunity, career, and work-life issues.
The report’s findings illustrate the well-known obstacles to womens’ leadership that have been identified in previous reports – slow career advancement, fewer raises and promotions, and more obstacles for women of color. In spite of the fact that women make up 50% of the workforce, have higher education levels than men, are often the primary breadwinners in their families. Also study after study demonstrates that having more women in the workplace can lead to significantly higher productivity and efficiency. So what is the hold up?
First of all, for many it is a matter of perspective, and requires shedding light on the facts to shift perception. According to Women in the Workplace, “When it comes to how women and men see the state of women and gender diversity efforts, there are striking differences. Men are more likely to think the workplace is equitable; women see a workplace that is less fair and offers less support. Men think their companies are doing a pretty good job supporting diversity; women see more room for improvement. Given the persistent lag in women’s advancement, women have the more accurate view.”
We also need to raise the bar. Women in the Workplace finds that, “Nearly 50 percent of men think women are well represented in leadership in companies where only one in ten senior leaders is a woman. A much smaller but still significant number of women agree: a third think women are well represented when they see one in ten in leadership.”
We also need to give women the support they need, not only in their day-to-day work, but on the road to advancement. Women in the Workplace finds that women are less likely to receive advice from managers and senior leaders on how to advance, and employees who do are more likely to say they’ve been promoted in the last two years. Similarly, women are less likely to interact regularly with senior leaders, yet employees who do so are more likely to aspire to be top executives.
We can’t unlock the full potential of women in the workplace, in the community, or in our homes until we see how far from equality we really are. That means it is up to all of us to raise awareness of the true status of women in leadership, and celebrate each woman’s accomplishments. By recognizing that we do indeed need more women in leadership, and working together to help women gain confidence and the skills they need to overcome barriers and reach their goals, we truly can change the world into one of 50/50 parity, where both genders value each contribution and shed the concept of living in a male-dominated culture.

Nice Girls Finish Frazzled

We can probably all agree that we want our daughters to be “nice” above just about anything else. While it’s a given that kids need to be taught to be friendly and have basic manners, many young girls are expected to prioritize niceness over expressing unhappiness or distaste. That pressure to please doesn’t let up for women entering the workforce. In fact, a new study to be published in Human Resource Management Journal finds that for a woman to be considered confident and influential at work, she not only must be viewed as competent, she must also be liked. For men, being liked ― defined in the study as exhibiting pro-social traits, like kindness and helpfulness ― did not matter.
One of the paper’s authors, Natalia Karelaia, an associate professor of decision sciences at Insead Business School in Fontainebleau, France, told HuffPost, “They have to be good performers and show some conformity to gender stereotypes to be successful at work. This means that women literally have to work harder ― and do more ― to get ahead.”
A recent Pew Research Center survey on women and leadership finds most Americans find women to be indistinguishable from men on key leadership traits such as intelligence and innovation. In fact, many of those surveyed think women are actually stronger than men in the key areas of compassion and organization. However, women continue to feel the pressure to focus not only on the job, but on how they can be nice, approachable, and all things warm and fuzzy while doing it.
Marianne Cooper, lead researcher for Sheryl Sandberg’s, Lean In, wrote that, “High-achieving women experience social backlash because their very success – and specifically the behaviors that created that success – violates our expectations of how women are supposed to behave. Since we taught our girls to be nice above all else, grown women are expected to be nice, warm, friendly and nurturing. So, if a woman acts assertively, if she pushes her team to perform, if she exhibits decisive leadership, she is deviating from the social script that dictates how she ‘should’ behave. By violating beliefs about what women are like, successful women elicit pushback from others for being insufficiently feminine and too masculine.”
While this new study shows that niceness may help women in the workplace, the burden of carrying the extra pressure to always be nice can also hurt them. Leading Women co-author Lois Frankel, PhD, writes that it can make it harder for women to assume leadership roles and do it effectively. Frankel explains, “When they do, they often try to make everyone happy (which is impossible), delay decision-making by trying to get everyone’s buy in, hesitate to take necessary risks for fear of offending the powers that be, and communicate in ways that undermine their confidence and credibility. Ironically, each of these behaviors could work to the advantage of women – if only they would balance them with new behaviors that contribute to more effective leadership. In other words, stepping fully away from the nice girl messages learned in childhood, and into adulthood, is all it would take for any woman to be a phenomenal leader for this age.”
Frankel shares eight great tips to help women step into leadership in Leading Women, including tips on how to get in the risk game, ways to think strategically while acting tactically, ways to resist perfectionism, and how to consciously build your leadership brand. Simply implementing two or three strategies can create a dramatic shifts in how you feel about yourself, how others perceive you, and the impact that you make at work and in your community.
In order to strike a balance and lead authentically, we need to recognize the full potential of women, and throw antiquated, stereotypical views out the window. We need to embrace our power, take our seat at the table, and lead with our experience and abilities first, personalities second. It is time to level the playing field, achieve full equality and change the world.
 
 

Friend-Raiser for Gender Parity

by Dr. Nancy O’Reilly

A Few of the Take the Lead Board Members: Gloria Feldt, Loretta McCarthy, Amy Litzenberger, Dr. Nancy O’Reilly! and Shelly Esque


Last week, I was pleased to join in a celebration with other empowered women and men, founders and directors, leaders, students and authors from different fields and many young women future- leaders for a Friend-Raiser at Anika Rahman’s home in New York City. We were there to celebrate Take the Lead co-founder and Leading Women co-author, Gloria Feldt’s birthday and to engage the participants in the planning and coordination of Take the Lead Day to promote “Powertopia, A World Where Gender Parity Is Achieved,” which will take place in November.
It is so inspiring when powerful women come together to do something important. Nothing is more crucial to our future success than gender parity. The statistics differ among countries, states, careers and races, but the fact remains that women are still significantly underpaid and under-represented in top leadership in both the private and public sectors. We continue to be paid less for the same work and remain undervalued in the halls of power where we can make the most positive difference in the world today. Take the Lead’s mission to reach gender parity by 2025 is central to achieving the 50/50 balance of women and men that we need to create a world that supports and sustains healthy and fulfilling human life.
Our hostess for the event, Anika Rahman, is an attorney, the founding director of the International Legal Program at the Center for Reproductive Rights and has served as President and CEO of the Ms. Foundation for Women among many other accomplishments. Amy Litzenberger, co-founder and board chair of Take the Lead and a former investment banker, who lends her expertise in funding and strategic planning to start-up companies and social profits, introduced the evening and the topic of Powertopia.  Gloria led the discussion about women’s ambivalence to power and how our culture has taught us to shun power as a force people use to make others do what you want. Instead, Gloria has embarked on educating women to embrace their power as a means to accomplish their goals, concepts first expressed in her book, No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power, and later in her chapter in Leading Women.

Photos courtesy of Alexis Buryk for City Love Photography
or @citylovephotog for Instagram or Twitter


 
Coming together as we did at Anika’s home shows how we can shift the conversation if we work together. We are uniquely designed to do that very thing. Women naturally collaborate to share the load and integrate one another’s talents for the best outcomes. But as I spoke to young women in attendance and listened to their questions, it was clear how much work we have yet to do. Their concerns were mostly how they could get along with other women at work. On a personal and professional level, their daily concerns are still centered on problems of working together. Women must reach out and support other women. We must not hold one-another back, but urge each other forward. Be a mentor to another woman and seek out a mentor for yourself. Together we can do anything. We have proved it over and over again. As the African proverb says, “If you want to go far, go together; if you want to go fast, go alone.”

Actor, Caileigh Scott and Gloria Feldt


Let this Friend-Raiser and gathering be an example of what happens when we collaborate to advance women and men everywhere. When one succeeds, we all succeed. As we change our relationship with power, we can write a new chapter in human history that truly supports the common good of all, not just a few. Stay tuned for more about the Take the Lead Day in November and trainings and events to promote Powertopia, a world where women are totally equal and gender parity is achieved.

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