Category Archives: women

Teaching Women How to Step Out is Just as Important as “Leaning in”

I recently submitted a piece to Leanin.org about how I’ve advanced my career – and my life – by not only “leaning in” as Sheryl Sandberg describes it, but by stepping out when the time was right as well. Sometimes leaning out is just as important – or moreso. Women of domestic violence and abuse need more help leaning out first, and then we can teach them to lean in, for example. Many women stay in bad situations too long because they’re afraid of what it means to leave. I’d like to see us teach more women how to leave when something’s not right for them – and how to lean in even when it’s uncomfortable to push the boundaries.

Here’s my story – what’s yours?

 

Best Countries for Women To Live In

Marie Claire outlines the best countries for women to live in – those with ultra female-friendly policies. Sweden’s too cold for me, but I can appreciate the “anti-sexism” sentiment and hope that we can continue to push equality and women’s rights around the world. Just think about the continued pay inequalities here in America, or the fact that Iranian women are still lashed for wearing mini-skirts (another story in Marie Claire) or women are still sold into slavery as young as five in this world.

We’ve still got a long way to go, baby.

Taylor Swift Sweeps Up

I am not exactly a country music fan. However, I did grow up in Wyoming for a time, and can attest to spinning George Strait and Patsy Cline LPs (yeah, as in actual records on the record player). Therefore, when I came across the Country Music Awards on the TV tonight, I paused. And listened.I was surprised to see how much pop has infused the country genre. Guest spots included Dave Matthews, Kid Rock and Daughtry. The always-entertaining Carrie Underwood has always had a good deal of pop in her style.

But perhaps the biggest surprise was how well Taylor Swift did! She won Entertainer of the Year (among several other awards) – as the only female nominee (and the youngest winner ever) – beating out the older, more experienced and all-male competitive list of George Strait, Kenny Chesney, Brad Paisley and Keith Urban.

I have to admit, until now, I had never sought out her music, although I enjoyed it enough when I heard it on the radio. But after this impressive win (yeah, women!), I downloaded her new album, Fearless, and have to say – although I’m certainly not the target audience – I enjoy every song. Not only does she have a beautiful voice but she wrote all of her own songs “each in about 1/2 hour” as she told Ellen DeGeneres recently.

Impressive. Inspiring. Congratulations.

Love Your Life

Every other month or so I get together with a wonderful group of women who are in similar fields and own small businesses. The “PR Chix” are each others’ Board, executive team, shoulder to lean on and friends. We share ideas, wisdom, triumphs and heartache. Although I only see these women a few times a year, and always in a a mentor/mentee-type atmosphere, I love and rely on and respect them. Immensely.

At the last meeting we had, one of the women was talking about her summer and how she took some time for herself and spent a good deal of it surfing. She talked of her car full of sand and wet towels, and I felt like I was watching a movie. The other two talked about new romances, skiing, days at the beach and dating. They spoke of how they have both run marathons, international summer travels and going out in Boston.

It was so romantically glorious in my mind, picturing them all so carefree. I said to them, “Your lives are so interesting; you are so lucky, I never go anywhere.” They of course said, “Yeah, but we all want what you have.”

I am the only woman in the group who is married or has children. (Despite this, we have so much in common.) So when I hear of their lives I envy their freedom; when they hear of mine, they envy my stability/family.

When I came home, I told my husband of their adventures and how they all got to go to all these places all summer, had already run marathons (which I want to do), etc.

Boy did I feel dumb when he reminded me of all our travels in the previous year that I had forgotten to mention: San Francisco (All Star Game), Vegas (“Rocktober” with friends), Tampa/St. Petersburg (amazing stay at the Don CeSar Beach Resort with the kids) Hilton Head, Michigan, etc. – both with and without the kids.

And then, a few weeks later when he gave me this amazing gift (which had already been in the works), I felt even more dumb that I had not been more impressed with my own life to share it with my friends.

This is certainly a lesson I will never forget again.

More Double Standards For Women in Business

A recent report published by the Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology concludes that female managers who are seen as unkind, insensitive and unaware of others’ feelings are judged as worse bosses because of it – yet men who exhibit the same qualities aren’t.

“It seems female managers may be expected to be sensitive to others’ emotions and to demonstrate this sensitivity by providing emotional support. Because of this, female managers’ job performance is judged on them being understanding, kind, supportive and sensitive,” says Kristen Byron, assistant professor of management in the Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University, who conducted the research. “In contrast, this is not the basis to evaluate the performance of male managers. It is far more important for male managers, and men, in general, to be seen as analytical, logical and good at reasoning than showing care and concern for others.”

As a female business owner and manager I find this very interesting and slightly frustrating. I see this in my own business – if women managers are not sensitive it’s definitely brought to my attention by the staff moreso than if a male manager or colleague is a bit hard-edged.

There have been a lot of articles and studies on the management style of women vs. mens and the entire “bitch” assumption for successful women in business. The truth of the matter is that we are different than men, we lead, we follow, we teach, we learn – differently. This doesn’t mean we are any better or worse at managing – we just use different tactics to get what we need. Unfortunately, we probably do waste too many cycles worrying about everyone’s emotions or thoughts. Caring less – perhaps embracing a little more of our selfish side – could make us more efficient.

But then again, what’s wrong with emotion? As the late, great Anita Roddick claimed, “I run my company according to feminine principles – principles of caring, making intuitive decisions, not getting hung up on hierarchy, having a sense of work as being part of your life, not separate from it; putting your labour where your love is, being responsible to the world in how you use your profits; recognising the bottom line should stay at the bottom.”

Amen!