Tag Archives: Women in Business

Gender Roles in Business

“I don’t play golf. I don’t go to the men’s room. I didn’t have the ability to network the way men do. But I made myself visible.”

-Jill Barad (1951-) US former CEO of Mattel

Source Wall Street Journal (1997)

Women account for only 3% of the chief executives at the helm of the 500 biggest U.S. Companies[1]. There is a large disparity in pay between female and male executives. Mary Ellen Page writes that “according to compensation experts, the disparity in pay can be attributed, in part, to the tendency of female executives to choose a straightforward salary and bonus package over stock and options laden one.” Women get paid on current business performance; in essence, their pay is tied more closely to the firm’s performance. Women have to work harder to advance in the workplace and often have to take on riskier assignments, improve their negotiation skills, and grow a tougher skin.

Female CEOs take on riskier assignments, in order, to advance in their career. For example, consider Campbell’s CEO transition from Douglas Conant to Denise Morrison. Morrison is going to run a company with an uncertain future. Americans have lost their taste for soup, and their rival Progresso has taken a lot of market share. Riskier assignments also mean a higher probability of failure. When a female CEO fails, it’s the news of a century. Recently, Avon announced the replacement of Andrea Jung as CEO. When Mrs. Jung first became CEO in 1999, she was the first woman to lead the consumer products company. She won admiration for her attention to detail, and changed the company culture. The company grew successfully until 2005 when profit margins began to shrink. Avon began faltering international markets, and loosing business in the US. Critics have publically denounced Jung as a failed CEO. But when JCPenney announced its executive replacement, more attention was placed on the incoming CEO, Ron Johnson, than JCPenney’s old CEO. In fact, in most articles, there is mention of JCPenney’s faltering business, but never is the old CEO mentioned as being the cause of it.

Women may be perceived overly ambitious when they improve their negotiation skills. Consider Hilary Clinton. While she was running for election, many people negatively pointed out that she was very strong willed and ambitious. For some reason, the public did not associate the other male presidential candidates as ambitious. Although in order to get the nomination ticket, these men had to be equally as ambitious. I, also, remember during Bill Clinton’s presidential term, many people postulated that Hilary was behind his actions. Now for some reason, people saw this as bad. From personal experience, I have seen mothers playing a huge role in the decision making process. These reactions from the public highlight is that women cannot act like men, but they cannot be too nice, otherwise they could be perceived as pushovers.

In the past couple of years of school, I have realized that advancing in a career is not only based on whether you are smart. It is a game that relies heavily on your personality. A woman has to very ambitious to rise to the top of the corporate ladder, and promotions don’t just happen to women. Furthermore, once a female starts rising beyond the director level, there comes a point where the “needing to be liked” syndrome has to be shed.

I have made several mistakes in groups. First, I seem to be the one who never says NO to tasks. While other people, might say they cannot due to family obligations or studying for exams, I would rearrange my schedule to be able to make it. In the past couple of months, I have stopped doing that, and try to let people take on more of the share. I am working on the needing to be liked aspect, too. I usually ignored when certain classmates were being rude or disrespectful. I recently spoke up, and stood my ground when a male classmate was acting obnoxious. Now, I may not have done it in the best manner. Regardless, I am proud of myself for finally being able to stand my ground and not care what people think of me. I am trying to work on my confrontation and negotiation skills, and asking for what I want. One of my greatest weaknesses is undervaluing my skills and intelligence. I have to really work on this.

I do not need statistics to understand that in business it’s still a good old boy system. All I have to do is look around my graduate class and calculate the ratio of men to women. In my information enabled supply chain class there is a 3:1 ratio of male to female. When I walk into a professional organizational meeting, the ratio still holds true. Most of the attendees are men. I also look at the ethnic background. I am the only Hispanic female in my information enabled supply chain class of 24. Last semester, when I was taking all my core courses, and classes were three times as big, I was still the only Hispanic female in the room. I am completely outnumbered in a deep, homogenous pool of future employees. I am turning this into a good thing. It allows me to stand out and be visible.

[1] “Top paid Female Chief Executives” by Mary Ellen Page, Forbes


P.S. I wrote this for one of my classes. Hope you enjoy!

Five Lessons About Women in Business

I am a little late to posting my daily blog today because I fell asleep super early last night. I usually write the post at night around midnight, but last night I passed out at 11 pm. I don’t even remember passing out, that is how tired I was. I feel a little bit more energetic today!

I found this great article in the WSJ titled “Five Lessons About Women in Business.”

Lesson 1: Difference Matters – I have learned that trying to be like a man does not work. Men do not respect you. Instead, I concentrate on what makes me, as a female, different. First, I bring intuition to the table. Many males fail to see the subliminal messages people send across the conference tables. I am actually pretty good at catching these things :) . I love studying people!

Lesson Dos- Identify what should change and What Should Stay the Same- This applies to both company and personal branding. A company cannot remain the same if it wants to succeed in the marketplace, right? Which means you cannot remain the same. Learn and grow every day. Have a growth mindset, not a fixed mindset. I am not the person I was four years ago when I started my university studies. How have you changed in the past four years?

Lesson Trois- Creativity is Always the Answer- Think outside the box! The article mainly talks about women in advertising, but this applies to any problem you are trying to solve. think about how you can add value to a service or product. One of my challenges when working with people is that they constrain themselves when solving solutions. They say “I can’t do this because I don’t have enough data.” Umm….did the Romans need data to invade England??? Now, they failed in establishing their rein there, but they did not sit around the campfire pondering about how much data they needed to support their actions. This is a little extreme, but I hope you understand what I mean.

Lesson Four – Feedback Breeds Success- I completely agree with this! I am a fan of constructive criticism and enjoy getting feedback.

Lesson Five- Emotional Intelligence – Empathy, compassion, and responsibility are very important attributes! Women have learned to celebrate these hard to quantify attributes :) . People skills are very important. I am in a field that can be very quantitative. Most of my classmates are awesome at building models. Although I am good at it, I know that my strongest asset is the blend of my qualitative skills with my quantitative skills. I can work with people, while they find it difficult to work with people.

This doesn’t just apply to women, it applies to men, as well.

What do you think?