I just came across an interesting new study, reported in the Harvard Business Review (HBR), showing that companies run by male executives with female children rated higher on measures of corporate social responsibility (CSR), defined as “measures of diversity, employee relations, and environmental stewardship,” than is true for comparable companies led by men with no daughters. This means that male CEOs with daughters spend significantly more net income on CSR priorities than is true for other companies (unless the CEO is a woman, but more on this later).
We need a way to celebrate the important role that friendships with women play in most of our lives.
I remember feeling quite satisfied with my life as a single woman well into my forties because of the richness of my network of women friends. I had good friends at work with whom I went to concerts and on vacations. I had other women friends with whom I shared problems and companionable activities such as movie going, and I had women friends I had known since high school and college with whom I had shared significant life passages over many years and miles. I remember saying at that time that while I would like to have a long-term intimate relationship someday, if that never happened, that was okay, too.
Why is it that when Hillary Clinton stepped down from being secretary of state in 2013, after four years in office, she was the most popular politician in the country? Her approval rating then stood at 69 percent. Yet while campaigning for president in 2016, two-thirds of the voting population said they did not trust her, though according to Nicolas Kristof of the New York Times, this distrust is not deserved. Sady Doyle, writing for Quartz, suggests that “public opinion of Clinton has followed a fixed pattern throughout her career. Her public approval plummets whenever she applies for a new position. Then it soars when she gets the job.”
I recently facilitated a leadership development workshop with a mixed-gender, mixed-race group and noticed a familiar pattern—the men, regardless of race, took up much more airtime than the women, and the women, especially the women of color, hardly said anything at all. I felt a familiar sense of annoyance rise up in me as one man after another seemed to go on and on whenever he had the floor, and I had to call on individual women and draw them out to get their voices and ideas into the room.
I grew up in a family business started by my grandparents and continued by my father, his six siblings, and their spouses. The business was a chain of clothing stores in small towns in the Midwest. While each sibling owned their own store or two, a number were jointly owned by all the family members, and these were run by my father as the corporate CEO. I began working in the business, as did most of my siblings and cousins, around the age of eight. Because I was the oldest of my three siblings and showed interest and business acumen, I understood from an early age that I was being groomed to take over for my father some day to run both our individual store and the jointly owned businesses. I was exposed to and mentored in every aspect of the business, and the fact that I was female never came up as an issue with anyone in the extended family. It was a great disappointment to all when I discovered during college that my path in life lay elsewhere and I declared that I would not be joining the business after college—but that is a story for another day.
We all need role models—people who inspire us and provide us with examples of how to live and be. These can be invisible mentors whom we never meet and only read about. Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Supreme Court Justice, is this kind of role model for me.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg (RBG) is eighty-two years old and, as Gail Collins of the New York Times reports, she loves her work and, in spite of tremendous public pressure to retire, has no intention of “going anywhere any time soon.” I am not the only one who admires her for a determination to live her life on her own terms rather than succumb to social pressure to conform (and retire). She has developed a huge fan base, particularly among young women, complete with a blog and upcoming book about her entitled The Notorious RBG (a play on the name of the rapper Notorious B.I.G.).
Several of my coaching clients are trying to find a solution to the same challenge—they work so many hours a week that they have no time for relationships, friends, exercise, relaxation, or children. These clients are men and women in large corporations, academia, small businesses, and large and small nonprofits. Their stress levels are high, their sleep quality is poor, or their hours of sleep too few. They often love their work—but they are not happy with their lives. Does this sound familiar?
Why are there still so few women in the top levels of academic science despite equal numbers of women and men at the undergraduate and graduate levels? Let’s examine some myths and biases about women in the sciences and consider some facts that help explain the current situation. Then I’ll close with some good news!
Myths and Biases about Women in Science
In a recent article in The Chronicle of Higher Education, Joan C. Williams and Jessi L. Smith note that there are distinct patterns of gender bias that affect female scientists:
If you’re like me, you say “I’m sorry” way too often when you have nothing to be sorry about. Men apologize too, but recent studies suggest that women are 37 percent more likely to apologize than men. Sure, an apology may be in order when our behavior impacts someone negatively and in a way we hadn’t intended. For example, I recently upset a colleague when I interrupted her during a meeting with a client. I apologized sincerely. I regretted my actions and regretted upsetting her. But too often we say sorry when we have done nothing wrong.
Two million US women are now veterans. During the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the United States military attempted the integration of women into the military in unprecedented numbers (15 percent of service members during these conflicts were women), opening combat and leadership roles to women for the first time. Yet, although women distinguished themselves as leaders and soldiers, Emily King of the Minnesota Women’s Press noted that “service women often feel disrespected and devalued, and many face discrimination.” Benedict Carey of the New York Times and King agree on two of the main factors that make life in the military so hard for women: