Ready for My Closeup

By | Executive Coaching, Gender issues in work, Leadership | 2 Comments

The bottom fell out of the U.S. economy in the fall of 2008 and most businesses – and individuals – didn’t quite know what hit them. The business I ran was heavily dependent on the consumer magazine industry, which was already beginning to feel the effects of consumers’ move to the Internet. We had begun to shift our strategic direction earlier, paying even more attention to the treasure trove of data that we collected each year and mining it for broader use and additional revenue streams. Our head of marketing, a smart and hard-working woman who had created a smoothly functioning and strategically focused department from not much more than shoe strings and tape, was releasing data nuggets to the press…

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The Dark Corners of Polite Society

By | Executive Coaching, Gender issues in work, Leadership | 2 Comments

The business section of The New York Times on Sunday, August 20, 2017, contained an article, “Exposing a Toxic Milieu for Women in Economics,” by Justin Wolfers, that, for me, added one more brick to the wall of an already awful week. We saw clansman and neo-Nazis marching in Charlottesville, resulting in violence and death. We saw terrorism attacks in Spain and Finland. We saw our national leaders respond inconsistently, offering little moral or ethical leadership designed to bring us together. I wanted nothing more this beautiful Sunday morning than to curl up with good coffee and read The New York Times. Then I came across this article and was smacked in the face with the reminder that there remain many…

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“Gee, Lt. Columbo, That’s the First Time Anybody Has Liked Me For My Body Instead of My Mind.”

By | Executive Coaching, Gender issues in work, Leadership, Management | 2 Comments

That line was uttered by the14-year old genius Caroline in the 1977 Columbo episode Bye-Bye Sky High IQ Murder. Lt. Columbo had just told Caroline that she was not only the smartest young girl he had ever met, but she was pretty too. Caroline was the youngest member of the Sigma Society, a club for geniuses and she helped solve the murder. Of course, 1977 was the early days of “our” wave of feminism and those of us who were just barely adults then laughed at the irony of that line. We were two years past the International Women’s Year (1975) and we knew there was much work to be done but we were confident in our success. Fast-forward forty years….

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“I Hate Working for Women,” She Said.

By | Executive Coaching, Gender issues in work, Leadership, Management | One Comment

The woman sat across from me over breakfast in a local diner. I had asked her to meet me before work to discuss what had happened at a corporate event last week: she drank too much and told a client that I was ruining the company. I thought about this conversation the entire weekend. I wanted to be firm but caring. If this woman had a drinking problem, the company would provide the support she needed. However, I would be clear that her behavior was inappropriate and could not, would not be tolerated! I started my well-practiced speech when she interrupted me with, “I hate working for women. At least with men you know where you stand. I’ve never had a…

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The Incredible Disappearing Woman

By | Gender issues in work | One Comment

My husband and I recently had dinner with my freshman year college roommate and her husband. It was one of those conversations that combines walking down memory lane balanced with catching up. Seemingly out of nowhere my husband asked my roommate if she had changed her name when she got married. She did. I didn’t. He then said, “I’m always interested in why someone would change their name. When women do so it’s almost like they disappear.” I was speechless with his willingness to express his feminism and equal rights support until he went on to say, “Doing genealogy research is made so much harder when women change their names. I’m able to get much deeper into my family’s history using…

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The Bad Daughter and Work

By | Executive Coaching, Gender issues in work, Leadership, Management | 2 Comments

It was Saturday and thus my day to be at the nursing home.  My mother was thrilled, eager to spend the morning watching “Press Your Luck” with me and telling me about her week so I struggled to hide my impatience, all the while thinking about how much I had to do at home and the board meeting the following week, scheduled to deliver my year end projections.  I should be ashamed of myself.  Glenn, my husband, visits her every day as the nursing staff never fail to remind me. I am not the caregiver in her life because I have an important job.  I am a bad daughter. Women are the caregivers.  My husband and I talked long and hard…

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Confidence and the Mirrors in Others’ Eyes

By | Executive Coaching, Gender issues in work, Leadership, Management | One Comment

I’ve been doing some reading on unconscious gender bias and a few paragraphs leaped out at me from an article entitled,  “The Confidence Gap,” by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman; The Atlantic, May 2014. Even as our understanding of confidence expanded, however, we found that our original suspicion was dead-on: there is a particular crisis for women—a vast confidence gap that separates the sexes. Compared with men, women don’t consider themselves as ready for promotions, they predict they’ll do worse on tests, and they generally underestimate their abilities. This disparity stems from factors ranging from upbringing to biology. A growing body of evidence shows just how devastating this lack of confidence can be. Success, it turns out, correlates just as closely with confidence…

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Pregnancy, the Corporate Climb and Acts of Mercy

By | Executive Coaching, Gender issues in work, Leadership, Management | 2 Comments

I am a mother (and, yes, I do know that some employees over the years have used a hybrid of that term to describe me less than flatteringly).  I’m talking about literal mother.  I have two sons, who are now grown men and have their own careers to worry about.  I have loved every moment of being a mother and I strongly feel that the skills I learned in that role led me to more success in the corporate world. The world has changed dramatically for working mothers over the past decades.  There are more of us but that hasn’t translated into strength in numbers or changed the stereotypes around a pregnant colleague.  Research from the Pew Research Center indicates that…

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How Do We Make Sense of Equal Pay Day? Unequal Pay is NOT a Deliberate Plot Against Women

By | Executive Coaching, Gender issues in work, Leadership, Management | No Comments

I am writing this essay on Equal Pay Day, the day in the year that symbolizes how far into the new year women must work to make what men did in the prior year. I am all for equal pay for equal work, but the gender salary gap is a complex, multi-dimensional problem that is not easily solved. I’ve touched on the difficulty women have in asking for more money in another essay (The Crone in the Corner Office: “Money Makes the World Go Around,” August 25, 2016). There is much research that documents that we women often start out with lower salaries because we have a harder time than men do in asking for money at the outset of a…

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