I owe this cartoon to European PWN, and it is just as true today as it was five years ago when I first saw it.
Is your sister, cousin, daughter, niece or friend a university student or young graduate with up to six years’ work experience? Then suggest that she apply to Next Generation Women Leaders, a McKinsey workshop in Paris, May 22-24. The deadline for applications is March 23.
I haven’t seen the full program and speakers’ list yet, but I know from the NGWL Facebook page that participants will be able to meet the super-accomplished Sandrine Devillard (pictured; bio here) as well as other leaders within and outside the Firm. You can refer more participants here (and earn the chance to win an iPad Mini); on top of the event itself, there will also be a series of online follow-ups for applicants who did not get to go to Paris.
Workshops like this are a great way for women to develop their leadership profile. Remmber, the earlier you start thinking of yourself as a leader, the earlier you actually become one!
If we needed proof of how fragile and reversible our rights, women’s rights, are today, even in the West, we had it last Friday, when Spanish Justice Minister Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón put forth a draft law to set back abortion legislation by 25 years. You can read the details here, but if the law passes, you will only be able to get an abortion in Spain if you have been raped, or if your physical or mental health is at risk.
I am angry to see women’s rights as a political battleground, again; angry that governments seek consensus by legislating women’s bodies; angry that politicians think it is their God-given right to mandate that any woman should be forced to live through the confusion, pain and anger of an unwanted pregnancy, and not be able to choose the lesser pain, if not illegally.
Legislatures where women’s choices are so harshly limited should start introducing some restrictions on what men can do with their bodies, too. See the initiative by Ohio State Senator Nina Turner, who introduced a bill to require men who seek erectile dysfunction drug prescriptions to see a sex therapist, undergo cardiological tests, and receive counseling on the viability of celibacy as a lifestyle option (read more here and here). Says Sen. Turner:
The men in our lives, including members of the General Assembly, generously devote time to fundamental female reproductive issues—the least we can do is return the favor. It is crucial that we take the appropriate steps to shelter vulnerable men from the potential side effects of these drugs. When a man makes a crucial decision about his health and his body, he should be fully aware of the alternative options and the lifetime repercussions of that decision.
This is not irony, this is not tongue-in cheek: this is anger, fighting back through all available means. So let’s remember that we can take to the streets in protest, but we can also use Parliaments and bills and all the legislative apparatus to get lawmakers to understand why we’re so angry.
As Jane Smiley wrote after reading a hundred novels, “I saw that the world I thought was established and secure, at least in the West, is more fragile than I thought, because it is newer than I realized.”
We are not established and secure. Keep your guard up. Fight back.
We had our own Janet Yellen moment in Europe yesterday: the third swearing-in of Angela Merkel as Germany’s Chancellor. Just the same way as Yellen “Wore Same Dress Twice, Upsetting Local Idiot” (Jezebel), Merkel was criticized (picture below from the front page of Corriere della Sera) for wearing a very similar outfit to what she wore for previous ceremonies of the same type.
So what? They are smart and practical women. They standardize their looks because it saves them precious time, even if they become predictable. I am sure a lot of powerful men have favorite outfits too, and they don’t spend a lot of time worrying whether they’ve worn the same thing before.
Plus, Merkel has been photographed wearing quite different gear to the opera (see this post in case you don’t remember). So why, why can’t women yet wear whatever the hell they want?
One of the ten winners in this year’s FT Innovative Lawyers survey, among over 600 participants, is Claudia Parzani of Linklaters, chair of corporate association Valore D and co-creator of In the Boardroom, an initiative she developed with GE Capital and Egon Zehnder to provide training and skills to prepare women for boardroom positions. Claudia also created the Breakfast@Linklaters network, featured in this year’s Client Service category.
Kudos to Claudia! I am proud to be participating in her boardroom program and honored to be in her circle.
Update & Correction (Oct. 17, 2013): post corrected to clarify that In The Boardroom was developed through collaboration among Linklaters, GE Capital and Egon Zehnder. The supporting member companies of Valore D can be found on this page.
It turns out there is some stuff that they don’t teach you in business school, and that you have to catch up on later, in your own self-directed continuing studies program. Corporate governance is one of those things. Luckily, I just read a book about corporate governance that isn’t a dry, legalistic tome about procedures and standards, but an account from the trenches of real board experience: Behind Boardroom Doors: Lessons of a Corporate Director, by Betsy Atkins.
You can read my review here. The chapter I found most engaging is “My 16 Days on the HealthSouth Board”, adapted from an essay you can read here, as good an account of crisis management as I’ve ever read. If you have an interest in matters of corporate governance, and perhaps you’re just starting out as a board director, reading this book will be like going to dinner with a very experienced director and getting all the precious nuggets from her. Enjoy it!
Fabiola Gianotti is a particle physicist, Spokesperson (i.e., coordinator) for the ATLAS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN in Switzerland, which consists of 3000 scientists from 38 countries and is considered the world’s biggest scientific experiment. On July 4, 2012, Gianotti announced that ATLAS had detected a particle consistent with the Higgs Boson predicted by the Standard Model of physics.
Fabiola Gianotti holds a Ph.D. in experimental sub-nuclear physics from the Università Statale in Milan, Italy. A trained pianist, she also holds a professional music diploma from the Milan Conservatory.
Her laboratory team focuses on the design and application of electronic biosensors and are at the forefront of electronic engineering and bioengineering. The sensors address a wide range of applications, from nucleic acid, protein and drug detection to the measurements of bacterial metabolism. Carlotta holds a PhD in Electrical Engineering from the University of Bologna.
Is there a woman in science, technology, engineering or maths whose achievements you admire? Write about her and add your story to the directory at FindingAda.com.
Happy Ada Lovelace Day!
Talk about work-life balance: it is only today, several days after its publication, that I’ve had the time to read Anne Marie Slaughter’s cover story in the July 2012 issue of The Atlantic, “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All” (which, as of today, has been recommended on Facebook approximately 178,000 times), as well as her first response to the storm of comments that flooded in as soon as readers saw it, “The ‘Having It All’ Debate Convinced Me To Stop Saying ‘Having It All'”. (Suggested alternative tags: #StumblingTowardParity, #PushingForBetter, #StillWorkingOnIt, #GuysThisIsYourProblemToo, #DemandingMoreForMoreOfUs, #Feminism).
What an extraordinary woman! What a privilege to have had such role models as Hillary Clinton. And what courage in rocking a boat that many of our predecessors couldn’t rock, and many younger women – as she points out – seem to be giving up on rocking.
And here’s what’s been missing from the debate: the full implications of this paragraph in Slaughter’s essay (emphasis added).
The best hope for improving the lot of all women [...] is to close the leadership gap: to elect a woman president and 50 women senators; to ensure that women are equally represented in the ranks of corporate executives and judicial leaders. Only when women wield power in sufficient numbers will we create a society that genuinely works for all women. That will be a society that works for everyone.
The issue is: how do we get to parity at the top in politics, in business, and in judicial ranks? Well, the standard American answer is: you vote for women and elect them, for elected posts; you promote a meritocracy in business; You change the culture in the workplace; you ask women to keep spinning their wheels, in the meantime, until they get traction.
And that’s why it doesn’t work. Many talented women decline to seek political office, or “leave before they leave” (in Sheryl Sandberg’s words) in the corporate world, because they feel that, even if they gain that extra ounce of power, the odds will be even more ruthlessly stacked against them. The rate of progress is just too slow. Or negative. Take a couple of data points:
- In 1998, Catalyst projected in their their Census of Women Board Directors that, at the then-current rate of change, it would take 66 years, until 2064, for women to reach parity with men in the ranks of Fortune 500 boards.
- In 2007, Catalyst projected that, at the then-current rate of change, it would take 73 years for women to reach parity with men in the ranks of Fortune 500 boards.
I believe that, in publishing more recent editions of the study, they’ve quit publishing any such extrapolations. For good reason, it seems.
When all else has failed, why have we kept trying the same recipes? Even Slaughter’s recommendations – no matter how lucid her analysis – see to me to fall short. Changing the culture of “face time”; redefining the arc of a successful career; rediscovering the pursuit of happiness; using technology and creativity; enlisting men – all are worthwhile efforts, and I praise her for spelling them out once again. But they’re not enough. We need to change the rules.
Let’s mandate gender parity in the candidate pool for elections. Let’s start linking campaign finance ceilings to the number of women a party gets elected: the more you achieve gender parity in the posts you win, the more funds you can raise. And let’s not forget – let’s mandate gender equality in corporate boards: how else do you think the Norwegians got to 40%? Similar measures have been passed, although at a much slower pace, to promote women’s board membership in Spain and Italy. EU Commissioner Viviane Reding, after a consultation on the topic, is said to be planning to introduce a draft directive this October mandating at least a 40% board participation by each gender.
Slaughter’s essay shows the need for a bold stand, but refrains from taking it. It is time for us, in America and elsewhere, to acknowledge that we need to put in place the right rules. As in the variously-attributed quote, insanity is repeating the same mistakes and expecting different results. Let’s try something different: the worst that can happen is that it will be a different sort of mistake. And it’s well worth trying: if we succeed, we will have created a better world for our daughters.
Just hearing the Fiat Superbowl commercial on the radio as I was driving home today made me think: is this straight out of the Mad Men era? Wasn’t it a trite cliché years ago to personify a desirable car in the image of a desirable woman? And all that copy about ogling, undressing, owning? Do women not buy cars, in the world as Fiat sees it? Do women not buy small cars, for heavens’ sake?
Then I watched it on YouTube and I was further dismayed. Feel free to tell me that I have no sense of humor, but it is not clever if you make white latte foam trickle down between the woman’s breasts; it is sophomoric. There must be other ways to get a young single male target segment to take an interest in a zippy car with a shift stick. I hope. I do hope.
Is your sister, cousin, daughter, niece or friend a university student or young graduate with less than three years’ work experience? Then suggest that she apply to Next Generation Women Leaders, a fabulous workshop by McKinsey in Paris, March 22-24. The deadline for applications is February 17.
My friend Eva Berneke is one of the speakers at the event (see program) and I am confident it will be a great way for young women to develop their leadership profile. Because the earlier you start thinking of yourself as a leader, the earlier you actually become one.