It has been refreshing reading, hearing, and listening to the conversations sprouting up all over the place around the topic of why women aren't making it to the top. Although some of the explosion in the topic is due to Sheryl Sandberg's book Lean In, it is also the result of people like us trumpeting this problem all of the time all over the place over the course of the past 5 years. It could be said that this conversation----the one we FINALLY seem to be having at long last hallelujah------is the direct result of the 2008 presidential election and the sexism circus surrounding Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin. It was so painfully obvious in that election season that women still faced daunting obstacles reaching the pinnacle of power in proportion to our numbers. It was so painful, that conversation, that major forces worked hard to sweep it under the rug as if it never happened. Many thanks to the wonderful women who catalogued the offenses in film (there are two excellent films from that time in the right column on this blog), on paper (read Anita Finlay's book also referenced on the right), and on many blogs including this one. Read through Women Win Too's archives-----you will find alot of discussion and documentation of why women aren't making it to the top.
One of the most refreshing parts of the current conversation is that it has transcended politics. Woo hoo!! FINALLY women and men are having this conversation without partisanship mucking everything up. The topic of why women aren't ascending to the top, as we have been stating for years, is a subject that cuts through party lines. Women of both parties are failing to make it to the top, and it has little to nothing to do with abortion and other such bogus themes. The common idea in just about everything I've read is that the real reasons we are failing to rise are tantamount to the REAL war on women------unfriendly workplaces, inability of women to toot their own horns, the list really goes on and on.
So this conversation is enjoined by women of all political persuasions and how wonderful to be having such a conversation!!!! How will we ever solve this problem if we don't join hands those of us who feel that women rising to the top in proportion to our numbers is important?
One sad piece of this conversation is the blowback from women who seem to be so consumed by envy that they can't appreciate the advice from those who HAVE arrived. The tomatoes thrown by those who say that the advice of a Sheryl Sandberg has little relevance to women who will never make it to the top is really shortsighted imo. It is hard to watch the bitchy whining about how she has money and can pay for everything the rest of us can't. Well really people------why shouldn't a woman at the top be paid like the men at the top? It would be wrong any other way. Fact is, when there are more women at the top, especially in numbers proportional to our actual numbers, life could get easier for ALL women in the workplace in substantive ways, a topic for a blog post all its own. We've got to cheer those women on who break through and make it to the top----bravo to them!!!! They won't all be great people who do great things, but it certainly will be better than an all male workplace----better for the men too. I say BRING THE WOMEN ON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I read a piece today about why women's gains in academia haven't translated into gains in the workplace by Garance Franke-Ruta. I'm not an academic---I'm a businesswoman. I don't so research, and it was really nice to read this piece from someone who has done that particular legwork. I remember being interviewed by this writer in 2008 or so when she worked at the Washington Post. She called me half an hour before her deadline, and the interview was memorable for the fact that she sounded weary, rude, and completely uninterested in the topic of sexism in the election and its consequences. I just assumed she was having a bad day and was writing about our protest against the sexism because everyone else was. I certainly was unable to pique any interest whatsoever in the topic at hand, and in those days, my phone was ringing off the hook with interview requests. So I was shocked to see such an excellent and in-depth piece about why women aren't making it to the top in spite of their dominance in universities. It's a thought provoking read.....
We need for all of these women who are inclined to speak up to do just that. Every one of them is contributing to fleshing out the full picture as to why women have so completely stalled out. I'll continue to write and talk about all of it because that is my particular contribution. I am like that dog who grabs on to your pant leg and won't let go. I am loud, and if it is something I believe in, I won't stop until either the solution is found or I am six feet under. I've been fighting this thing for over 40 years, and we've made some progress. But there is much more to be done until the dream is realized, that dream of women leading with their own particular brand of leadership. Sure there are women whose style isn't likeable. But that doesn't mean women shouldn't be rising. If anything it is proof that MORE women should be rising.
At any rate, it is just really really gratifying to watch this conversation take place. Let's keep it going.....