I asked and you answered. Below is what some of you have to say about last week's column on women climbing the corporate ladder. One e-mail begged the following question: Who decides where a "woman's place" should be? That e-mail (which urged me to "Stay at home, and do YOUR job") and my response will be the topic of next week's "Minding Her Business" column. Stay tuned.
Women do not have to "work harder" than men.....they need to be as competent. This may or may not mean working harder. It's time to stop whining and bitching, and simply stand and deliver. This attitude problem does nothing to increase the success of professional women. In fact, the blame game simply prevents them from focusing on results. Rather than making excuses, women need to look inward for the source of their shortcomings. It's called "accepting responsibility". Try it sometime. You might find the experience "liberating".
You know the funny thing is that in the social services, the roles are reversed, all of my bosses have been women, and I have been a boss myself. I was director of admissions in a drug rehab and I would say the staff there, dealing with daily crisis situations, was 75-80 percent women. Not a financially lucrative gig, but important nonetheless!
"Some women that are qualified to be promoted may be passed over , but I can speak from first hand experience that after working almost twenty years in a large electric utility company in the South, many women got promoted over qualified males on many occasions. It appears that the quota system also applies to businesses as well as our institutions of higher learning when it comes to hiring and promotions. It is sad that sex, race or age of an individual has to be a factor for anyone to get hired or promoted in the business world. We all lose under these conditions."
-Jim (Bremen, Ga.)
The advice offered in your column regarding grabbing a golf club and trying to make alliances echoes the advice that I give young engineers. Five years ago, there were 13 women in a group of 64 mechanical engineers. Now there's just me in a group of 24. What sets me apart? Part of the reason that I continue to hold this job, as well as advance in it, is that I play golf. Because of that common interest, my male counterparts are comfortable sharing their golfing experiences with me and frequently drop by my office to discuss a difficult course or exciting shot. In today's workplace, it would be odd, if not rude, to ask questions about my home life but golf is a safe subject. Open lines of communication flow over to work-related subjects and, I believe, that my counterparts are just as comfortable discussing the latest in HVAC technology as a golf swing with me.
And the same goes for me, with them. This is not a dialog that occurs naturally but once the lines of communication are open, it's a two-way street and that makes me more of a team player than my previous female colleagues. Does it have to be golf? No...fishing, hunting, sports and NASCAR are all discussed just as heavily as golf.
Sr. Mechanical Project Engineer
Thank you for giving attention to women in business. After nearly 20 years in corporate America I'd reached a fair modicum of success - marketing director for the Americas at a Fortune 75 company in Minneapolis.
Nearly a year ago to the day, I had a milestone birthday and began taking stock in my career satisfaction. As many of us do, after graduating college I went to work for a series of large companies always working toward that next promotion, pay hike and the corner office. After contemplating the next 25 to 30 years of work life I realized I wasn't happy in a corporate environment, and perhaps never had been so.
I left my executive position in May, 2006 not knowing what I was going to do next. Within a few months I decided to open my own interior design studio...we opened for business yesterday. I've never worked harder, had limited income (for now), had more fun and been so satisfied with the prospects for professional success in all aspects of the phrase!
You asked, so here are my comments based on 27 years in "sales":
1. women are great at sales. they just don't stay with it long enough to get promoted. i've seen excellent female sales reps quit after marriage, pregnancy,etc. i've seen only six males quit after either. males quit for more money.
2. sales is 24/7. it's not really "hard work", but it is All The Time. Sunday morning, Saturday night....especially since the Internets. lol. sort of like being a reporter?
3. finally, in general business terms, and not just in sales.... women don't manage women effectively. why? i don't know, and if i knew, i wouldn't tell anyone for free.
-John of Sparta
I just completed a Research Project on Inequality in the Workplace in which I mainly focused on Alaska. It was very startling to see how much of a disparity there is between what men and women make. According to the State of Alaska Department of Labor (which is who I work for), Women in Alaska only earn 66.4 cents per every dollar that a man makes. I honestly thought it would be more equal than that up here.
It is quite depressing to know that after 4 years of busting my butt in college, men who only have a high school diploma will more then likely earn more then I do.
Eagle River, AK
I liked your article Women in Business.
I really think the reason more women go out and start their own business is they are tired of being treated like they can’t handle the job, too stupid, and/or they face prejudice/discrimination that can’t be overcome.
What all the stats in the world do NOT show is WHY so many women are lagging behind men when it comes to top positions. Although your research has shown that these women may WANT the top spots, their life choices differ greatly from their male counterparts'. It is women who get pregnant, give birth and take some time off (even if it may just be a few weeks, sadly). It is women who normally take time off for their sick toddlers/children. It is women who normally take time off for their elderly parents. Men do their business weeks consistently, which may be why they are often seen as the more reliable, faithful and harder working employees.
Let's be honest, if MONEY is your goal, you want the most qualified person to lead your company, REGARDLESS of gender. This idea that top business company owners would choose sexism over fortune doesn't jive well with this former feminist! Yes, stats can and should be dissected and explained, unless one is a feminist, of course:)
I am a woman. I would rather put these men work harder on their jobs or into the higher jobs than women, so we women just forget these hard work and can relax by the swimming pool or something like that.
I am a 52-year old male, and have worked all of my professional career in the nuclear engineering field. Unquestionably, the two best managers I have ever worked for (among the many bosses, mostly male, that I’ve had) were two women. My experience with them was back in the early-to-mid 1980s, and both of them were well on into middle age at that time (more on this, to follow).
Both of these women reflected two attitudes that impressed me, and profoundly influenced me to enthusiastically follow their leadership. First, they reflected a heartfelt concern for the personal well-being of the people who worked for them; even to the point of taking a stand in opposition to higher management in order to take care of their employees’ needs. Second, they did not view men as enemies or competitors; nor did they draw attention to themselves as women. They viewed themselves as members of a team, irrespective of their gender. I believe that this attitude was an outgrowth of their age, and the era in which they entered the workforce (mid-1960s). They were not nurtured on the emerging feminism of the ‘70s. There was no “I am woman hear me roar” attitude; nothing to prove as women. There was simply a job to do, and do well, as a person.
Curiously, the unquestionably worst manager I’ve ever had was also a woman. She was a person younger than I, and clearly out to prove herself in a “man’s industry.” She would curse like a sailor, publicly scream at and berate people, and generally assert her power. Not pleasant at all, whether coming from a man or a woman.
Oak Ridge, Tennessee
I am a woman and having worked for a number of female bosses in more than 30 years in the business world, all I can say is give me a man any day. Female bosses always come with an agenda and a hit list. Their insecurities push them to destroy good people who are good at their jobs. There is a reason men make it to the top and women don’t, and it isn’t so much ability as it is being able to look at things clearly without emotion getting in the way.
"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 firstname.lastname@example.org. e-mails are subject to editing for length.