Archive for the 'Women as leaders' category

Twenty-Fourteen Travel Begins

Just one week into the new year, and I am already on the road. As I write this post, I await the first leg of my trip to San Antonio for the alumnae group of the Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine for Women. This every-other-year get-together will give me a chance to learn new stuff, reconnect with friends and mentors, and renew my professional self. 

One topic for this meeting will be fashion and image. Since we would be focused on these issues, I felt compelled to dress the part. This meant some planning via a spreadsheet:


First I identified the key events for each day of my meeting. I then identified the most appropriate form of dress for those events. Since Friday will focus on fashion, it’s the day I want to shine in my nice suit. I do have some meetings on my travel days, but a nice pair of dark-wash jeans with a jacket or cardigan will work for these rather casual gatherings. The other two program days also require business attire, but not necessarily as polished as Friday. By planning items that coordinate with my suit and other accessories, I can maximize my wardrobe flexibility and minimize my luggage requirements. 

Spreadsheets are not just for accountants; they provide a great way to organize all sorts of data. 

By the way, for my friends in the north, San Antonio is supposed to be ~70 degrees while I am there. The deep-freeze should be well out of OKC by the time I get home as well. Not that I would taunt about that…well, actually, I would!

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Not the NRA

May 05 2013 Published by under Women as leaders


My weekend in Houston may be occurring at the same time as the NRA convention, but my group could not be more different. WESH, or Women Executives in Science and Healthcare, dedicates its efforts to changing the face of the biomedical health enterprise. Our group consists of leaders and aspiring leaders; while we grew out of academia, we have expanded out membership to hospital and medical management, biotech and other business enterprises, and other related field. Our annual spring summit this year addressed Women Leading to Succeed: New Frontiers in Medicine and Science. You can see the entire program through the link.

The Honorable Annise Parker, Mayor of Houston, keynoted the summit on Saturday morning. Her talk showed a room of female leaders that we all face common barriers in our lives. Over the next 1½ days a variety of women discussed novel careers in and out of the Ivory Tower. Others addressed challenges facing healthcare and the biomedical research enterprise, including monetary and political barriers.

I always feel energized by this meeting. I love interacting with other women who have pursued leadership roles in their fields. I sometimes feel isolated at my own institution. WESH provides a strong network of like-minded women.

I would encourage anyone with a leadership role in science and healthcare to consider joining WESH. Women who aspire to leadership roles can also benefit from the group. In addition to reduced registration for the summit, membership includes several publications and access to a closed forum where issues can be discussed in privacy.

Whether you call it a glass ceiling, unconscious bias, or just bullshit, there is still a gender gap in pay and promotion, both in the academic health center and in other biomedical and scientific enterprises. Breaking barriers individually can be difficult; with a group the work is hard, but a lot more satisfying.

I will Storify my pearls of wisdom from the event in another day or two. Stay tuned.

Monday, 6 May 2013: Here is the link to the Storify:

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What I Am Reading: Lean In

Mar 26 2013 Published by under What I'm Reading, Women as leaders

I finally crawled out from under a rock (also known as the inpatient service) and heard everyone talking about Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead, I first encountered negative reviews, but then found some raving about the book. That left only one logical course of action: download and read!

Click for link on Amazon

First, some agreement with the naysayers. Sheryl Sandberg, a highly educated C-suite officer for Facebook, speaks from a position of incredible privilege. She has connections and a lifestyle of which most of us can only dream. The story about finding her daughter's head lice on a company jet was not exactly the situation most of us face with the pesky pests. Her advice to lean in to our careers must read like a weird fantasy to the average employed woman, someone worried about paying rent rather than achieving loftier goals. Her view is very first-world-centric as well; for the most part, the women to which she writes have basic human rights raising them above the level of property. She notes this early in the book:

But knowing that things could be worse should not stop us from trying to make them better. When the suffragettes marched in the streets, they envisioned a world where men and women would be truly equal. A century later, we are still squinting, trying to bring that vision into focus.

Sandberg, Sheryl (2013-03-11). Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead (p. 5). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Now that I have acknowledged that issue, we can move on to why I loved this book. I see so many women leaning back rather than into their work, giving up on goals before they have to make a choice. Sandberg describes the same situation, including discussions about raising a family with a woman who does not have a life partner nor is ready to reproduce! Those of us who have made it to senior ranks with spouse and children often get into this conversation.

Chapter 5 particularly hit home, entitled "Are You My Mentor?" Someone decided mentorship was the missing key to success for women, but many women seem to be in an ongoing quest for this person:

...searching for a mentor has become the professional equivalent of waiting for Prince Charming. We all grew up on the fairy tale “Sleeping Beauty,” which instructs young women that if they just wait for their prince to arrive, they will be kissed and whisked away on a white horse to live happily ever after. Now young women are told that if they can just find the right mentor, they will be pushed up the ladder and whisked away to the corner office to live happily ever after. Once again, we are teaching women to be too dependent on others.

Sandberg, Sheryl (2013-03-11). Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead (p. 66). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

There are those who argue that we must abolish institutional barriers that hold all women back, things like unequal pay and societal sexism. Others argue that breaking down the glass ceiling will promote those changes. Why not do both?

Sandberg hopes to inspire another wave of feminism to combat inequality. encourages women to form LeanIn Circles:

We often achieve more in groups than we do as individuals. Lean In Circles put this idea into practice.

Circles are small groups that meet regularly to share and learn together—like a book club focused on helping members achieve their goals. Lean In provides an online space that makes it easy for your Circle to get organized and stay connected.

Your Circle is yours. We encourage you to decide what works for your group. If you prefer structure, our Circle Kits include everything you need to run a successful Circle. You can also find the right people and figure out things as you go.'

A variety of tools on the site will help small groups come together to discuss equality. As we learn together and talk, we can bridge some of what divides us.

Let's all lean in to all aspects of our lives.

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Thoughts on a Princess

Nov 19 2012 Published by under Women as leaders

Over at Academic Women for Equality Now I am musing on The Princess Diaries, a couple of movies that I believe show what a Disney Princess can and should be.

Click on over and let me know what you think. I'll be back here later.

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Think Pink!

Sep 09 2011 Published by under Women as leaders

Proudly by Nine West, $89 at Zappos (Click for more)

Today's update from Little Pink Book, a website for women in business, advises us to be Powerful in Pink. When I came of age in the 1980s women who wanted success dressed like men with boobs: suits, button-up shirts, and floppy bow ties.

Work fashion moved in a more feminine direction through the 1990s, but many adult women still shun pink because of its weak, girly connotations.

Zappos offers 12,417 pairs of black shoes for women, while only 933 come in pink, including actual ballet shoes. Even that boy color, blue, includes 1,600 pairs of women's shoes.

"Only Barbie wears pink."

Cynthia Good, founding editor and CEO of Pink, gives her take on this color:

While former Vogue editor Diana Vreeland once said, "Pink is the navy blue of India," ask most driven, focused, passionate, career women what they think or feel about the word pink and you´ll get an earful. Only the most confident men wear it. And until recently, ambitious career women avoided it like the plague. It´s not just about color.

Throughout your life pink has been symbolic. Since the day you were born and a pink cap was placed upon your head, the color partly defined who you were and who you felt you could or could not become. At times pink was confining, girlish, degrading, liberating or all of these.

But today a growing number of women who are at or heading for the top are comfortable with their own pinkness – the color, the attitude, and the opportunity it represents. They are embracing their femininity along with their strength, their compassion and resilience, power and passion.

Can we wear pink and be taken seriously as something besides a wife, mother, model, or reality TV star?

Click for source

I never really liked pink, and I dressed my own daughter in the entire rainbow. However, I am not afraid that pink will diminish me in some way. I own and wear clothing in a variety of shades of pink. This color symbolizes the feminine in our society, and I am a woman: strong, proud, and glad to kick your butt with my magenta high heels if need be.

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No New Answers Here

Sep 08 2011 Published by under Women as leaders

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Are you interested in women as leaders? Then you should know about The Glass Hammer, a website about women in business with a weekly email of new interviews and topics. The email newsletter arrived today, and one piece regarding a meta-analysis of women as leaders caught my eye. Are Leader Stereotypes Masculine? A Meta-Analysis of Three Research Paradigms is in the July issue of the Psychological Bulletin.

 The summary of the work refers to Catch-22, a classic no-win situation (glad Heller wrote the book so we have something elegant to call it):

The study also found that women are viewed as less qualified in most leadership roles and when women adopt culturally masculine behaviors often required by these roles, such as being assertive or aggressive, they are viewed as inappropriate or presumptuous.

So women may not be considered as leaders because they are "too nice to do the work", but when they show leadership traits they become bitches and are still undesireable.

One of the authors, Alice Eagly, professor of psychology at Northwestern, discusses how we may start to reverse bias like this:

  • Make people aware of the potential bias that leads to this discrimination, overtly or unconsciously
  • Women must be extra-qualified to seem as capable as a man because leadership is stereotypically male

 So be twice as qualified to be seen as legitimate? Then have someone else suggest that the (mostly male) folks in charge of promotions may be biased against women and that constitutes discrimination? I mean, you can't say it yourself because then you are an assertive (castrating) bitch who no one will tolerate as their leader!

Sigh. No easy answers here.

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