A Smorgasbord of News

Finishing my new book No Ceiling, No Walls has kept me too busy to blog (hey, that's an interesting title for something), so there's a ton of news to report.

Having a woman heading PR for Cadillac has turned women into social media promoters of the car. Looks like Cadillac has figured out that women are an untapped market. Read more here.

One of the aspects of leadership is using your personal greatness...and one of the components of personal greatness is the alignment of what you say your values are and how you behave. I love what Sallie Krawchek told a conference room of women MBAs about this. When faced with a difficult situation she asks herself:
"not what I think I should do, but what the person I want to be should do - what she would do."
Sallie is the former chair and chief executive of Smith Barney and later chief financial officer at Citi and chief executive of Citi's global wealth management.

Recently a woman told me she thought she'd like to move into academia - she thought it was a more benevolent culture for women. Heidi Brown of Forbes puts that idea to rest in this article about women college presidents. 23% of college presidents are women (happily up from 10% in 1986). 64% of men have tenure - another significant disparity. This reminds me of research done on women in academic medicine that found that women really do have to work twice as hard as men to advance on the academic ladder - more publications, more funding brought in, more years on each step.

We all know that Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin both faced sexism during last year's presidential campaign. In Massachusetts, the subtlety of sexism is playing out in the battle for Ted Kennedy's Senate seat. As reported by Joan Vennochi in Boston.com:
Therese Murray... looks for sexism under every political rock and finds it in every criticism of a female candidate.

“You have all these little code words; now it’s cautious,’’ said Murray, complaining about a word used by Representative Michael Capuano, one of Coakley’s challengers.

Sure, there are code words used to undercut women in business and politics, and often they are contradictory. A woman is too soft or too tough, too provocative or too frumpy, too young or too old, too single or too married.

How can Coakley be too “cautious’’ if she is also too “ambitious,’’ as suggested by Stephen E. Smith, one of Ted Kennedy’s nephews?

“It made me want to throw my BlackBerry,’’ said Ellen R. Malcolm, president and founder of EMILY’s List.

As Malcolm points out, “There are four candidates, and every single one is ambitious. . . . It is a code word in the sense that it is considered a bad thing for a woman.’’

Forbes' look at CEO compensation differences between women and men reminds us that although some of the women CEOs make significant income, the wage gap exists even at the top of companies. For example Lynn Elsenhans...
"was paid $2.2 million last year by $37 billion refiner Sunoco ( SUN - news - people ). Bruce Smith, head of refining concern Tesoro ( TSO - news - people ), which had sales of $20 billion in 2008, took home $18.6 million."
On the other hand, Carol Meyrowitz, CEO of TJX (think Marshalls and TJMaxx) makes nearly as much as Jeffrey Immelt, CEO of GE..

Fawn Germer wrote an excellent piece on Huff Post about the wallop women MBAs have taken during the great recession - they've been fired at more than 3 times the rate of male MBAs.
"Corporate leaders, who are mostly male, are turning back toward the tried-and-true. It’s not that they are saying, “Let’s freeze out the women and the blacks and the gays so us white boys can handle things.” They’re saying, “Who can help with this?” And they look around and see who’s around them, and well, it’s mostly white men.

“They are thinking, ‘Who do I work with? Who do I golf with? Who do I have a relationship with?’ While women have done a good job of cracking into it, they haven’t fully done it yet,” said McGurl, now president of Sutton Place HR Consulting Group. “I don’t think anyone is out there thinking, ‘I’m going to whack all these women."

But women are getting whacked."

25 Most Influential Women in Banking courtesy of the WSJ.

If you've been reading the Leading Women blog for a while you know that having women at the top makes a significant positive impact on the advancement of women in the company. Now, having a First Lady willing to speak out through the gender lens might benefit women in the country. As reported in MS Magazine.
" Obama referenced studies showing that women are more likely than men to hold part-time or small business jobs that do not provide health insurance and that women who do have health insurance are often charged more than men. "A recent study showed that 25-year-old women are charged up to 45 percent more for insurance than 25-year-old men for the exact same coverage. And as the age goes up, you get to 40, that disparity increases to 48 percent," Obama stated, according to the White House transcript. She noted that this disparity is especially troublesome considering that women still earn less than men on average."
Lead ON!
Susan Colantuono is CEO of Leading Women and author of No Ceiling, No Walls (Dec 2009). She blogs on networking for PINK Magazine. Follow her on Twitter.
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