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Archive: Women in Leadership

TV perpetuates old boys club

In a realm where women are welcomed as entertainment, it seems being female and an authority still makes people uncomfortable.

By Selena Rezvani | February 25, 2011; 09:04 AM ET | Comments (8)

Where are men in the work/life conversation?

Many businesses today are making "allowances" for women, without framing flexibility as a total workforce issue and showing its benefits to all workers. This trend persists despite considerable research that shows positive support, regardless of gender, for more flexible work arrangements.

By Selena Rezvani | February 4, 2011; 10:42 AM ET | Comments (30)

What makes a 'Best Workplace'? (Hint: It has to do with women)

Perhaps the secret sauce of a truly inclusive workplace isn't overly complex. Best companies find ways to "join up" with employees' lifestyle realities, rather than just tolerating them. What's more, they know that what can be especially positive for underrepresented groups tends to be good for everyone.

By Selena Rezvani | January 21, 2011; 04:54 PM ET | Comments (1)

A glass ceiling, by any other name...

What does a typical micro-inequity look like? Imagine pitching your services to a man and woman working at the same company, and giving your eye contact--and attention--to the man. This happens, in part, because people assume that the man is more senior or more of a decision maker.

By Selena Rezvani | January 11, 2011; 08:03 PM ET | Comments (30)

The legislator: Nancy Pelosi

Despite millions spent to scapegoat her in the last election and the Republican's obvious glee at knocking her out of the Speaker's throne, Pelosi is leaving this position with dignity. More importantly...

By Kathryn Kolbert | December 22, 2010; 10:24 AM ET | Comments (19)

The community rebuilders: Linetta Gilbert and Kelly Lucas

I have two nominees with whom I have had the privilege of working; both are professionals in the field of philanthropy. They are profiles in leadership and capture the vision, passion, courage, skill and tenacity needed to bring about real community change...

By Katherine Tyler Scott | December 22, 2010; 10:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

The courageous: Elizabeth Smart

Elizabeth embodies several leadership traits that we frankly do not see enough of in some of our better-known leaders in business, politics and sports. First, she has plenty to teach all of us about...

By John R. Ryan | December 22, 2010; 09:46 AM ET | Comments (1)

Not a risk taker? Then chances are you're a woman

Girls learn about risk differently. Risky behavior, girls are told, is dangerous. For many young women, perfection is the more popular state for which to strive. Being simultaneously popular, a top student and pretty becomes a recipe for greatness. As you get older, this ideal morphs into Superwoman syndrome--the pressure to be that strange creature...

By Selena Rezvani | December 20, 2010; 06:21 PM ET | Comments (10)

The activist: Aung San Suu Kyi

Suu Kyi has spent 15 of the past 21 years under arrest for her support of democracy in Burma--and yet she has managed to serve as an inspiration for millions of...

By Susan Peters | December 20, 2010; 03:12 PM ET | Comments (0)

Progress deferred on equal pay for women

Progress created by the Ledbetter Act was hamstrung last month by the failed passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act. The National Organization for Women explains that the act would have deterred wage discrimination by diminishing workarounds in the law and by minimizing retaliation against workers who disclose their wages.

By Selena Rezvani | December 3, 2010; 03:38 PM ET | Comments (1)

How it can pay off for women to work abroad

While women are increasingly taking the international route, support structures have not necessarily caught up. A study by Mercer Human Resource Consulting showed that female expatriates are more likely than males to leave their partners at home when on assignment and are less likely than their male counterparts to have a partner prior to going on assignment.

By Selena Rezvani | November 12, 2010; 11:34 AM ET | Comments (2)

Know when to let your members off the hook

She has become the issue, rather than keeping front and center the issues she says she cares about--such as restoring the Democratic majority and keeping the White House in 2012. Her seeking re-election to the post is another example of her putting herself above her party and, once again, doing what no legislative party leader should ever do: forcing her members to make a bad vote that is likely to haunt them two years from now. It is as if she has learned nothing at all from...

By Marty Linsky | November 11, 2010; 05:26 PM ET | Comments (4)

Why Pelosi didn't fail

Women and men need to see an example of a woman politician who has had to face a loss but refuses to back down. Too often, women leaders become discouraged after an initial loss, or are encouraged by others to step down following a failure. What would happen if instead of backing down, we came back with even more fire in our...

By Marie Wilson | November 10, 2010; 01:48 PM ET | Comments (7)

Pelosi deserves plaudits

I resist the temptation to jump on the Megabus that is driving the trash talk against Nancy Pelosi. The campaign of vilification orchestrated by Republicans with millions of dollars in often anonymous campaign funds was masterful, but Dems should not be swayed by their opponents' propaganda. Pelosi...

By Kathryn Kolbert | November 10, 2010; 01:43 PM ET | Comments (5)

Things fall apart

How can Congress make the best use of the next two years? To answer that question it is important to note that the interests of the Democratic Party should not supersede the interests of our nation. Rather, our next minority leader must further bipartisan decision-making. As such, there is no need to look at whether Speaker Pelosi is the best person for the...

By Coro Fellows | November 9, 2010; 04:10 PM ET | Comments (3)

'A wish for leaders'

There are some key questions that should be considered by both, even though Senator Reid has retained his formal position and Speaker Pelosi's fate is now dependent on the votes of her peers. In the final analysis, both will have to be authorized by those they want to influence. Can they present and represent their positions...

By Katherine Tyler Scott | November 9, 2010; 02:49 PM ET | Comments (0)

It's a problem of peer judgment

From an "electoral" perspective, Pelosi's performance could, of course, hardly have been worse: Democrats suffered a historic loss of more than 60 seats and Pelosi herself became the poster child for alleged Democratic "wrong track" ideas. But from a "legislative" perspective, Pelosi's performance was also historic in...

By Benjamin W. Heineman, Jr. | November 9, 2010; 02:30 PM ET | Comments (0)

How Pelosi is like KU's Coach Gill

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi faces a situation many authority figures face when they are linked to poor results. But Pelosi can take heart, she has a kindred spirit here in the Heartland. University of Kansas head football coach, Turner Gill, isn't a politician, but his job is political. As does Pelosi, Gill makes his living in a full-contact activity. Each also faces a growing chorus of detractors wanting...

By Ed O'Malley | November 9, 2010; 07:53 AM ET | Comments (1)

Good leaders never give up? Nonsense

Forget the myth nurtured on the football field that leaders never give up. Nonsense. True leaders are smart enough to know when to stop bashing their heads against opposition stronger than themselves. Even smarter ones, and may I add more courageous ones, know that the bravest thing to do is to give up...

By John Baldoni | November 8, 2010; 06:02 PM ET | Comments (0)

There is no dilemma

Thoughtful leaders should and do resign after losses far more modest than Nancy Pelosi's of last week. But Republicans, of course, are delighted at her candidacy, delighted at the prospect of her symbolizing Congressional Democrats for two more years. And House Democrats are in disarray, most of them privately wanting to see her back but afraid to say. At least for the moment...

By Slade Gorton | November 8, 2010; 05:56 PM ET | Comments (1)

Democrats should stick with Pelosi and Reid

Both Obama and Pelosi have been effective leaders for the Democrat constituency. Neither has connected with the Republican constituency. Would other Democrats do better? Should Pelosi be replaced by a Democrat considered more centrist? The danger is that this would alienate...

By Michael Maccoby | November 8, 2010; 05:51 PM ET | Comments (10)

'How sweet it is to wear the crown'

We Republicans are delighted that the Democratic faces in Congress remain those of Pelosi and Reid. Their decisions to remain leaders is bad news for Democrats. Yet it's surprisingly unsurprising. Even great historic leaders like Winston Churchill, Charles de Gaulle, Maggie Thatcher, and many others simply hung on too long. Why do they, even after achieving great feats? Shakespeare puts the reason simply: "How sweet it is to wear the crown"...

By Ken Adelman | November 8, 2010; 05:44 PM ET | Comments (2)

Some force-fed humility

Congresswoman Pelosi has lost credibility by insisting on remaining the head of the Democratic caucus in the wake of the recent elections. By 'fighting' to stay in the limelight, she leaves the impression that her agenda is more about her than about the things she claims to believe in. A more credible and humble approach would be...

By Bob Schoultz | November 8, 2010; 05:39 PM ET | Comments (7)

On being a 'net negative'

Pelosi has become an anchor around the neck of the once hopeful Democratic Party, and the election should have been signal enough for her to move on. Any attempt on her part to linger, to continue to represent Democratic ideals and intentions, will further set the party back. She's had her opportunity, it's time for new blood...

By Lt. Col. Todd Henshaw (Ret.) | November 8, 2010; 05:30 PM ET | Comments (4)

Fighting gender fatigue

At a time when companies are looking for any unturned stone to improve their financials, it seems like idiocy not to leverage women. Study after study documents that companies with more gender-balanced leadership teams see better financial results. And yet even in this economy, we find ourselves at a standstill. If the inclusion argument was not enough of a reason to increase women's proportion, I thought surely the business case would get CEOs' attention.

By Selena Rezvani | October 29, 2010; 01:51 PM ET | Comments (24)

Sexism in Mad Men--what has (and hasn't) changed

As much as I love watching Mad Men, it is difficult and painful to see the ways in which women and men dealt with each other and with power. It's painful because this behavior is not as far back in our past as we would like to think. Our daughters continually get the messages that power still comes through powerful men. And unfortunately being pretty is still a quality that can get you on the ladder-though it still won't...

By Marie Wilson | October 19, 2010; 11:44 AM ET | Comments (3)

Why do women hate negotiating?

Women initiate negotiations four times less often than their male counterparts. Women also report "a great deal of apprehension" about negotiation--at a rate 2.5 times more than men, according to the research of Carnegie Mellon's Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever. One data point from Babcock and Laschever's research, which appears simple on its face, is even more striking. When asked to pick metaphors that represent the practice of negotiating, women most often selected "going to the dentist" while men more often chose "a ballgame" or "a wrestling match."

By Selena Rezvani | October 15, 2010; 01:09 PM ET | Comments (33)

Afraid of average

Best paid. Most powerful. Top influencer. Lots of publications churn out lists and rankings of impressive women. These grown-up honor rolls sell magazines and get lots of hits in the social-media universe, whether showcasing women's power in terms of hierarchy or paychecks. It seems we love a good competition, especially one that culminates in a tidy inventory of prowess. But while impressive to read through, the average woman feels like there's a grand canyon separating her from the leaders profiled in these rankings.

By Selena Rezvani | October 1, 2010; 10:25 AM ET | Comments (17)

What's next for Gen Y women?

That the daughters of the feminist revolution are primed to balance the leadership ranks is an understatement. They represent a path to correcting women's low representation in top echelons of government. And what group, if not Gen Y women, is the answer to Fortune 500 boards and management teams becoming more gender balanced? Between their education and outlook, Gen Y women seem to be the answer.

By Selena Rezvani | September 17, 2010; 09:23 AM ET | Comments (9)

Debunking the 24/7 workday

So many of us define our self-worth by how hard we work, we have trouble disentangling our egos and even asking if there might be a better way. When we've pushed ourselves to be good students, get good jobs and deliver results, it's hard to hear that our more-more-more approach may not be the right one. For many, being asked to examine how we work feels like being asked to be mediocre.

By Sharon Meers | September 10, 2010; 09:28 AM ET | Comments (6)

Are Women's Colleges Still Needed?

As is the case with all "seven sisters", Barnard also has a mysterious air about it. Are its students drawn to the school because it's renowned academically and happens to be all female―or because it's a women's-only college that just happens to be excellent academically? Is it the balance and exact combination of the two that magnetizes others?

By Selena Rezvani | September 3, 2010; 09:14 AM ET | Comments (26)

Leadership's next frontier: Changing how we use our words and bodies

As we try to find a lingua franca both genders can use, new research offers some norm-shifting ideas. Whether you're a man or woman, putting your body in positions that speak power makes you feel good. See yourself as...

By Sharon Meers | August 27, 2010; 08:39 AM ET | Comments (21)

Getting Women's Networks Right

Let's face it: corporate women's networks don't have the best reputation. These developmental forums for women―called affinity groups, diversity councils or employee resource groups (ERGs)―are all too often typecast as social hours. Even the best laid plans at many companies have left male and female employees seeing women's ERGs as less-than-credible gatherings where the meaty issues go unaddressed.

By Selena Rezvani | August 20, 2010; 01:22 PM ET | Comments (2)

Thick Skin, and more of it

I've huffed and puffed about many things I should have blown off. So I could only nod when I heard this wisdom from an executive recruiter for C-suites and board seats: "Thick skin. That's what more women need."But not just one layer. To get to the top, women likely need three.

By Sharon Meers | August 13, 2010; 08:43 AM ET | Comments (42)

Dr. Maya Rockeymoore: 'Be a student of yourself'

"Sometimes when your strengths are overlooked within your immediate organization, you need outsiders to affirm your talents. This is especially important from a networking perspective, because often times your employer will respect you more when they see that other outside groups respect you."

By Selena Rezvani | August 6, 2010; 09:40 AM ET | Comments (4)

How Joe Biden can help working parents

The next time a politician kisses a baby, let's tell him to hang on to the tyke for the weekend. Working parenthood may not be a reality for CEOs and policy makers, but it's real life for most of us.

By Sharon Meers | July 30, 2010; 05:15 AM ET | Comments (95)

Even in the pink ghetto, women fall behind

'So we're putting all the front-end work into building these nonprofits, raising money and building the board, so that men can take them over when they're finally running smoothly?'

By Selena Rezvani | July 23, 2010; 10:57 AM ET | Comments (26)

Dismantling the 'maternal wall'

A new study shows that leading women professionals earn less money - and credit - at the office. Here's why we need to talk about it.

By Sharon Meers | July 16, 2010; 11:05 AM ET | Comments (53)

Must women leaders dress like 'vanilla' to succeed?

How polished should a woman look to convey competence? What about open-toed shoes? Ruffles? Bold jewelry? Necklines? The choices - and perils - are boundless.

By Sharon Meers | July 2, 2010; 11:31 AM ET | Comments (25)

From 'Pretty Little Liars' to future women leaders?

Here's the message these TV shows send: As a young woman, your best bet is to conform socially, obsess about your body to the point of self loathing, and leverage rumor and hearsay as a means to damage others and gain power.

By Selena Rezvani | June 25, 2010; 01:31 PM ET | Comments (25)

Transcript: Wendy Brandes on why fashion 'torments' women leaders

'It's hard for women to win because if you dress too fashionably people will complain about that, and if you dress too unfashionably people are going to complain about that too,' says fashion blogger Wendy Brandes.

By On Leadership video transcripts | June 23, 2010; 12:27 PM ET | Comments (4)

For women, it's really lonely at the top

The higher a woman goes in her career, the more likely it is that she's without a spouse and children. The more successful a man is however, the more probable it is he has a family. And that's not by choice.

By Selena Rezvani | May 28, 2010; 01:33 AM ET | Comments (83)

Inventing themselves on the job

Ambiguity creates opportunity. Things are always more challenging when there's no roadmap, but some of the best, most inspired thinking is likely to emerge from those situations.

By Lisa Caputo | May 14, 2010; 03:53 PM ET | Comments (0)

She leads, we follow

Real change is never a one-person show. Real change happens when the work of formal leaders--leaders in the center--is complemented by the work of leaders on the margin.

By Martin Davidson | May 14, 2010; 05:21 AM ET | Comments (0)

What Michelle and Laura share

There is something about the first ladies that draws others in and inspires them to follow and find their own purpose. Perhaps it's their authenticity or their ability to be fully present in the moment.

By Katherine Tyler Scott | May 13, 2010; 03:25 PM ET | Comments (0)

Not a right but a choice

The first lady can and should be a leader. It is her privilege and responsibility of public service. But ultimately it is hers to choose.

By Scott DeRue | May 13, 2010; 03:20 PM ET | Comments (0)

Unprecedented potential

It does not matter whether you are a man or woman, president or first lady. What matters is the role you choose to play.

By West Point Cadets | May 13, 2010; 03:15 PM ET | Comments (0)

The power of indirect leaders

Whether first ladies are leaders or simply the pale distaff of their husband -- think Mrs. Eisenhower -- depends on the degree to which they use their voice and how much they want to amplify it.

By Warren Bennis | May 13, 2010; 02:00 PM ET | Comments (0)

Not waiting for advice

Michelle Obama should continue to use her body language to express her passion for the cause of childhood obesity.

By Carol Kinsey Goman | May 13, 2010; 12:00 PM ET | Comments (0)

'The beauty of your dreams'

The power of the first lady lies not in the title, but in the spirit, conviction, and leadership of the individual.

By Coro Fellows | May 13, 2010; 05:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Our leadership crisis: Where are the women?

In spite of Sarah Palin's prominence as best-selling author, Hillary Clinton's stature as Secretary of State, women hold only 18% of leadership positions across the board, according to our new "Benchmarks" report.

By Marie Wilson | November 20, 2009; 05:47 AM ET | Comments (46)

Student View: Even Twins Are Different

While some females may appreciate being considered a preventive measure to a financial crisis, I find it sexist and unrealistic, writes Caroline Goodson, an undergraduate student of Warren Bennis.

By Warren Bennis | March 11, 2009; 09:45 AM ET | Comments (1)

Only Two Percent of Fortune 500 CEOs Are Female

Would a world ruled by women look any different? We'll never know until there are more women in positions of power. And if we look in the board room and the executive suite right now, women are very few.

By Barbara Kellerman | March 11, 2009; 09:38 AM ET | Comments (0)

Pressured to Conform

In a male-dominated profession like the military, women in leadership roles often masked their true selves to be what the culture expected them to be. The male-dominated environment on wall Street likely created the same pressures to conform.

By Lt. Col. Todd Henshaw (Ret.) | March 10, 2009; 11:19 AM ET | Comments (0)

Title IX CEOs

If men are more competitive in business, this may be because they've been playing sports for longer. Will there be a new generation of women leaders as competitive in the boardroom as they were on the soccer field, softball diamond or basketball court?

By Paul R. Portney | March 10, 2009; 11:12 AM ET | Comments (0)

Generation Not Gender

In a world of flattened communications, a more collaborative leadership style is more effective -- as evidenced in President Obama's style -- but this change has more to do with age differences than gender ones.

By Patricia McGinnis | March 10, 2009; 11:01 AM ET | Comments (0)

Planting Ivy in the Urinals

To answer this question is to chose between being branded a male chauvinist pig by half the world's population and a weak-kneed wobbly wimp by the other half. Copernicus may have had the best answer to such tricky questions.

By Norm R. Augustine | March 10, 2009; 10:47 AM ET | Comments (0)

No Time for Stereotypes

Perpetuating the overblown debate about female vs. male leadership styles doesn't bring back jobs, strengthen failing organizations or improve the economy.

By Kathy Kretman | March 10, 2009; 10:40 AM ET | Comments (0)

Our Own Boogie Man

Rather than believe a handful of bad guys "did us in," we should spend more time examining our own attitudes toward wealth, work, and the old-fashioned virtues of earning what you buy rather than just putting it all on a plastic charge card.

By Alan M. Webber | March 10, 2009; 10:30 AM ET | Comments (0)

One Night Stands

More women leaders on Wall Street would have created an industry more focused on long-term mutually beneficial relationships and concern for and understanding of the entity on the other side of the transaction.

By Roger Martin | March 10, 2009; 10:23 AM ET | Comments (0)

More Holistic Thinking?

It's not unreasonable to make the case that women managers might have handled the Wall Street meltdown in a different, more effective way, but the focus should be on having the best minds, and that means women AND men.

By Yash Gupta | March 9, 2009; 12:04 PM ET | Comments (1)

An Offensive Question

The stereotypes that male leaders are aggressive and risk-oriented while female leaders are less assertive and more risk averse keep women from demonstrating their full leadership capabilities, and keep men from being able to lead from the heart as well as the head.

By Bill George | March 9, 2009; 04:37 AM ET | Comments (0)

If Women Ran the Banks

The banks and trading companies are dominated by men. The few women who reach high levels have had to fit into a male culture. Would it have been different if women had created and run the culture? We can only fantasize.

By Michael Maccoby | March 9, 2009; 04:33 AM ET | Comments (1)

Imagining "Ellen" Greenspan

There is little doubt that with more women in top positions in Wall Street and government, the economic crisis would have been less severe.

By Marty Linsky | March 9, 2009; 04:22 AM ET | Comments (1)

A Culture Not Easily Bucked

For women to crack glass ceilings of male leadership, an accomplishment in and of itself, and then be expected to also change an institutional culture and business model in the short run is a big task.

By Andy Stern | March 9, 2009; 04:12 AM ET | Comments (0)

Gender No Silver Bullet

Wall Street became a system run amok because of group think, greed, sloppy and lax regulation, and close to zero transparency. Unfortunately, DNA or brain circuitry or sex hormones can't solve these serious design flaws.

By Warren Bennis | March 9, 2009; 04:01 AM ET | Comments (2)

Barbarians at the University Gate

Wall Street recruiters look for students clever enough to earn profits at almost any price. Whether this aggressive profile relates to gender, testosterone, ambition, identification with the barbarians at the gates, or lack of ethical fiber, I will leave for others to decide.

By Howard Gardner | March 9, 2009; 03:34 AM ET | Comments (0)

Women in Fantasy Land

The testosterone-driven fantasy-land of Wall Street thrived on its hyper-competitive, win-at-any-cost culture. The chances of women ruling that particular roost were slim to none, and we are living with the results.

By Elizabeth Sherman | March 9, 2009; 03:22 AM ET | Comments (2)

Gender Is Not Destiny

While it is clear that society should promote greater diversity in leadership positions in all walks of life, we should not expect that a person's gender will be a predictive factor in his or her approach to problem solving.

By Kurt Schmoke | March 9, 2009; 02:57 AM ET | Comments (1)

Breaking the Mold

While some research shows women tend to be somewhat more risk averse than men, top women executives may not fit that pattern.

By David Walker | March 8, 2009; 11:07 PM ET | Comments (0)

Are Women Really Risk Averse?

By the standard means of testing, women do seem to be more risk averse when making risk/reward trade-offs. But when risk is understood more broadly, women seem as likely as men to take risks like launching new products or starting new projects.

By Deborah Kolb | March 8, 2009; 10:18 PM ET | Comments (1)

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