Women in Business: Your E-mails on Change or Lack Thereof

In response to last week's topic on the realities of change; some of you wrote about 'reasonable' things that you think might change with a little help from our friends. Some of you e-mailed to say you want change but, after many years of working for it, you are now skeptical of the chances. And, of course, some of you wrote to say everything is fine the way it is and change should just back off.

Below are a few:

Dear Megan,

The thing I would most like to see changed is for everyone to stop thinking of "flexible work" as a women's issue. Working moms are the most vulnerable employees in the workplace. They are more-likely-than not the recipient of all emergency phone calls about ailing children or constantly trying to piecemeal together child care to accommodate continually expanding work schedules. More are becoming single mothers, whether by choice or by divorce.

So, yes, they need flexibility. But to ask them to lead the charge is asking them to take what is in most cases, a huge risk with probably worse than the 9-to-1 odds.

Yet, should companies start recognizing the need for flexibility, don't all employees stand to benefit? Perhaps the word we need to substitute for flexibility is "reasonable" work schedules.

Growing up, my friends and I had working parents, yet both could make it home for dinner, even when they were C-level employees. Now, for even one parent to get home by 6:00 pm is a struggle. But the flexibility is not just about childcare, or even elder care, it's about giving all employees the freedom to explore other pursuits on their own time. Some of which might cause them to bring back new and fresh ideas to their work.

The good news is that generation Y women and men (most of whom don't have children yet) are fighting for flexibility.

So, change the word and change the makeup of the people leading the fight, and hopefully we might be able to beat the odds.

-Diane K. Danielson
CEO, downtownwomensclub.com

Dear Megan,

I am a woman nearly 61 years old. My first full time job was as a lab assistant at age 19 in a research center with 400 male employees. I was the first female hired to work in the labs. When I left there 2 years later, I was replaced by another girl.

However, I was expected to get to work a half-hour earlier than the guys to start the coffee so it was ready when they came in (I don’t drink coffee) and I was habitually called “the wench.” It was not unusual for the guys to pat my behind when they walked past me at the lab bench.

Complaints went no where. Oh, and my pay was exactly half what the guys in the same job, same length of employment and same background, were making.

As the years went by and I accumulated degrees and experience, and as the “women’s movement” made progress, I eventually got to a point of pay nearly equal to my male counterparts until I left industrial R&D in 1990. I had to publish more, work harder and be more visible, and yes, when I did all that, some called me a bitch, while the guys who did so were “go getters.” My last two years in my field were as a well respected, and well paid, consultant.

In 1990 I retied from industry and went into teaching.

I now am teaching at a large, public university.

Once again, I am making about half what my male counterparts are making. I cannot get tenure track, although men with less education and no experience get tenure track and tenure.

I have a heavier student load, heavier class schedule, plus responsibility for oversight of the labs for my courses, which male faculty do not do.

I get top flight student evaluations, and publish regularly, and am currently working on the 5th edition of a small text that has sold in excess of 60,000 copies, world wide.

As Rodney Dangerfield used to complain, I get no respect.

At this point, I can legitimately be accused of “coasting to retirement” which is NOT in my nature, but I’ve fought the battles for too many years, and in this academic bureaucracy, I cannot win.

The old boy network is all powerful. “No Girls Allowed!”


Dear Megan,

No offense to yourself on a personal level, but when I read the subject article on FOXNews.com, I couldn't help but think, "How STUPID. Are they kidding??"

It's a no-brainer why women account for so few high-level positions in the corporate world -- it's called MOTHERHOOD. In the 60's and 70's, it was being preached to young women that they could "have it all." They could have mega-careers and be mothers. Then women tried it and it didn't turn out so well for most of them - it's overwhelming.

I think most of today's women are smarter - they know that if they want to be moms (and most women do; therefore, the small number of executive VP and CEO women) they have to put motherhood on hold or forsake it in order to climb that Corporate Ladder.

I believe most men are holding high-level positions because of the choices WOMEN MAKE, not because of some social bias against women. I work for a defense contractor where I see evidence everyday of women taking over where men once were, but they choose not to be moms. I also see those women that "want it all"; companies are more than accommodating to the moms with high-level positions that take an extended maternity leave (and I mean EXTENDED), and the company bends over backwards to make sure that their position is still there if they choose to return.

OK, I'm done. Just had to share that with you. Your article had that "women still have it tough" tone that makes me want to puke, because it's a bunch of bull.

-Dianne S.

"Minding Her Business" is a column that covers issues affecting women in business and in the workplace. Female professionals (and male, too, if they wish) can use this resource to network, ask questions, receive and offer advice, share personal experiences … and you don’t ever have to leave your office. Just e-mail herbusiness@foxnews.com. E-mails are subject to editing for length and content.