Article Review: A Modest Manifesto for Shattering the Glass Ceiling

3 Dec

“It took a revolution to get women where they are in business today. But now, to push hard-won gains wider and deeper, a different approach is necessary. It is a strategy based on small wins – incremental changes that have the power to transform organizations positively for both men and women.” – Debra Meyerson & Joyce Fletcher

This article does an excellent job in describing where we are as a society in regards to women in the workplace. While the authors, Meyerson and Fletcher, argue that significant strides have been made towards equality in the workplace, “the truth is, women at the highest levels of business are still rare.”

The authors also mention that while women have successfully made progress climbing the corporate ladder, many women who approach the very top have a tendency to “jump off, frustrated or disillusioned with the business world.”

So what are we to do if we wish to finally shatter this glass ceiling that has prevented women, for years, from succeeding in a male-dominated workforce?

According to the article, the only way that the glass ceiling will be shattered in this new millennium is through a strategy focused on small wins.

And what exactly does a “small win” strategy do?

Instead of focusing on revolutionary measures that often scare people and cause massive amounts of resistance, small wins focus on “incremental changes aimed at biases so entrenched in the system that they’re not even noticed until they’re gone.”

According the article, small-wins strategy causes change through the following three steps:

  • diagnosis
  • dialogue
  • experimentation

These steps, as expressed by the authors, are much more effective as opposed to harsh revolutionary measures.

This article goes on to present very simply and yet so intelligently, the reason why glass ceilings continue to prevail in the modern day workplace.

As the authors mentioned, it used to be that gender discrimination was very obvious in the business environment. For example, a female executive would lose a promotion to a male counterpart, possessing less experience. Or, in another instance, a female worker would find herself having been demoted immediately after going on maternity leave.

Today, this gender discrimination is not so obvious.

“Today such blatant cases are rare; they’ve been wiped out by laws and by organizations’ increased awareness that they have nothing to gain, and much to lose, by keeping women out of positions of authority. That doesn’t mean, however, that gender inequity has vanished. It has just gone underground. Today discrimination against women lingers in a plethora of work practices and cultural norms that only appear unbiased. They are common and mundane – and woven into the fabric of an organization’s status quo – which is why most people don’t notice them, let alone question them. But they create a subtle pattern of systemic disadvantage, which blocks all but a few women from career advancement.”

It is a sad but very true reality, as mentioned above, that  gender discrimination lingers within an organization’s cultural norms. Gender discrimination, in part, is continually reinforced by the way a company is structured.

For women, it’s frustrating to know that regardless of the progress that has been made, this inequality still remains in the workplace.

However, by following the steps and the guidance outlined in this article, organizations can help to encourage continuous progress in regards to gender equality in the workplace.

The biggest take-away is the following:

We need to start the conversation. We need to begin dialogues that allow for people to truly understand the problems that women are facing. Start the conversation, spread awareness, and then begin experimenting with policies and initiatives, in an effort to discern which approaches deliver the best results.

Reference: Meyerson, D. & Fletcher, J. (1999). A Modest Manifesto for Shattering the Glass Ceiling. Harvard Business Review.

No Ceilings for Hillary

2 Dec

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Hillary Rodham Clinton has certainly become one of the most influential and most notable women in the realm of public administration. Born on October 26, 1947 in Chicago, Illinois to a successful fabric store owner, it was evident from a very early age that this young woman would go on to be a leader of her generation.

Rodham expressed an interest in public service from as early as her undergraduate career. As a student at Wellesley College, Hillary was very much involved in student politics, going on to be elected as Senior Class president prior to graduation. In regards to her graduate career, Rodham attended Yale Law School, where she would ultimately meet her future husband, and former President of the United States, Bill Clinton.

The majority of today’s society recognizes Hillary as the former first lady, wife of Bill Clinton. While certainly this was a huge role that she played during her husband’s presidency, Mrs. Clinton was fully enthralled in public administration even prior to her marriage to Bill. She worked various jobs as a college student and later, when she began her work in Washington, D.C. in 1971, she worked for U.S. Senators, on various subcommittees, and even worked on the campaign for a Democratic presidential nominee. Early on in her career, Rodham became a faculty member of the Law School for the University of Arkansas and was later appointed as the part-time chairman of the Legal Services Corporation by President Carter.

Hillary Clinton served on various boards including the Arkansas Children’s Hospital, the Children’s Defense Fund, TCBY, and Wal-Mart. In addition, she chaired the Arkansas Educational Standards Committee and was the co-founder of the Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families.

As an educated and experienced lawyer continually contributing to the realm of public administration, The National Law Journal named her one of the 100 most powerful lawyers in American in 1988 and 1991.

In 1992, Governor Bill Clinton was elected President of the United States, and as the country’s First Lady, Hillary became an advocate for children and family issues as well as health care reform. During this time, she represented the United States as she traveled to numerous countries where she won the respect of many as a leader in public service.

In 2000, Hillary was elected as U.S. Senator in the state of New York and was re-elected in 2006.

In 2007, Mrs. Clinton made public her plans to run for president in the 2008 presidential election. She later conceded her nomination as now President Barack Obama held the majority of the vote in the primaries.

Following Obama’s election as the President of the United States, Hillary was nominated by the president to become Secretary of State in 2009.

It is truly inspiring to see how much Hillary has accomplished throughout her career. Not only has she managed to become an iconic figure within public administration, but she has also balanced her career with her role as a mother, her daughter Chelsea Victoria having been born in 1980.

If there WAS a glass ceiling in the realm of public service, Hillary has successfully managed to shatter it into fifty thousand microscopic pieces. She has paved her own path, and has not allowed her gender to hinder her accomplishments. Has she faced criticism? Has she encountered stereotypes and preconceived notions regarding gender roles within society? Yes, she certainly has. She even has a great sense of humor about it, famously stating,

“If I want to knock a story off the front page, I just change my hairstyle.”

But any negativity, any challenges that she has faced as a woman, they have not stopped her from moving forward. They have not stopped her from being a role model for women everywhere who aspire to succeed and to make a difference. For this reason, Hillary Rodham Clinton is without a doubt deserving of this mention.

Here is a short bio on Hillary that is definitely worth watching.

Reference: Hillary Clinton Biography 

Resources for Working Women

1 Dec

Instead of just linking three websites that offer engaging and important information on our theme, we thought we’d go a little above and beyond.

Twitter feeds to follow:

@gretchenrubin: Author of The Happiness Project and Happier at Home Gretchen Rubin helps to remind women in business to find their happiness.

@NancyFClark: Nancy F. Clark shares her insight as an advocate for women in business and a Forbes contributor.

@SmallBizLady: Named Forbes‘ No. 1 Influential Woman for Entrepreneurs and host of #SmallBizChat, Melinda Emerson has lots of great inspiration for women in business.

@emmaisaacs: Emma Isaacs, CEO of @businesschicks, is a major champion for female entrepreneurs and women in business.

@ritwomen: Check out the Rochester Institute of Technology’s resource for women in business to learn about skills in leadership, business education, and life management.

Great Websites:

Corporette: A fashion and lifestyle blog for corporate women: lawyers, bankers, MBAs, consultants and “otherwise overachieving chicks.”

Count Me In: This community for women business owners offers career resources, webinars, blogs and a network for female entrepreneurs.

Modite: Entrepreneur Rebecca Thorman writes with fury on the state of the Gen-Y generation, women and work.

Start Up Princess: A resource for female entrepreneurs by female entrepreneurs through education, encouragement and networking opportunities.

The Glass Hammer: An award-winning blog and online community created for women executives in finance, law, technology and big business.

Journal Article Review : A survival strategy for women: shattering the glass ceiling

1 Dec

“Viewing the retention and advancement of women as imperative will help organizations to achieve goals and overall business success.” – Pamela W. Carter

This journal article does an exemplary job at analyzing the huge disparities between men and women in the workforce and in many professions. “Despite making up nearly 50 percent of law school graduates, women make up only 18 percent of law partners and only 25 percent of judges.”

The article goes on to explain the huge irony in the glass ceiling, it posits that while women are disproportionately underrepresented, they end up being better leaders than men. “A study of more than 900 managers at top U.S. corporations found that “women’s effectiveness as managers, leaders, and teammates outstrips the abilities of their male counterparts in 28 of 31 managerial skill areas—including  the challenging areas of meeting deadlines, keeping productivity high, and generating new ideas.”

The article also addresses the question on everyone’s mind: What can a woman do to shatter the glass ceiling? It goes on to say that women need to be more assertive and know what they want, they must set and define their goals and priorities clearly.

The article also gives us the view from a business point of view. It gives advice on how businesses can cater and attract more women to join their leadership ranks. Overall, the article provides a fresh perspective and status of the glass ceiling in 2012.

Source Citation   (MLA 7th Edition)

Carter, Pamela W. “A survival strategy for women: shattering the glass ceiling.” For the Defense Feb. 2012: 12+. Academic OneFile. Web. 3 Dec. 2012.

Urbane Sophisticate Magazine- Women’s Edition

1 Dec

Back in May of 2012, I had the privilege of being selected as a contributor for Urbane Sophisticate Magazine’s Women’s Edition.

In my article, Women in the Workforce, I share with readers a Generation Y woman’s perspective on work and the many challenges that we face.

Thought it would be interesting to share…

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Video

Breaking Through the Glass Ceiling in Corporate America

28 Nov

A Lawyer’s perspective on breaking the glass ceiling: feminine power in a masculine society.

The Next Generation of Working Women

25 Nov

Accenture, a global management consulting firm put together the following info graphic regarding the next generation of working women based on research that was conducted in 2012. You can see the full report here.

Good news… according to the research, “Compared with other generations, Gen Y women have the most positive outlook for women in the workplace.”

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