Winning Women in Technology - and How to Get More

Recently at TED Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook spoke about the importance of women staying at the table and what we can do to continue to make advances to the C-suite. Together with Carol Bartz, CEO of Yahoo, Sheryl's has been a familiar name when talking about women in technology.

Marissa Mayer, VP of geographic and local services at Google is another familiar name. One of the first employees at Google, she talks in her Newsweek interview about women in technology, women at Google, her career and Google's commitment to diversity. Although the percentage of women at Google hovers at the meagre 15 - 17%, she says this about the commitment:
"It’s something that they’ve had to work at over time. There was one point in the early days when we had hired 16 men in a row into engineering, and Larry said, “You know what? If we get to 20, I’m not going to sign any more offer letters until you start producing an equal ratio of women.” That was the moment when we really started recruiting for technical women, helping to build programs around it, really putting a lot of effort into it. So it’s something that the founders have always been very focused on.
In addition to hiring technical women, we’ve done a lot of things here that are aimed at making it a very good place for women to work. For example, in our hiring practices we make sure there’s a woman engineer on each interview, and I think that makes a big difference in terms of how engineers relate to each other. Because there are a lot of male engineers who can only really relate to other men."
This stands out because it shows the importance of leadership at the top and concrete steps that companies can take.

Recently I spoke with a CEO of a global company about the feasibility of getting other CEOs to sign a commitment to require HR to float diverse slates of candidates for C-suite and feeder positions. She told me the story about a C-level opening at her company. HR had done the usual things - posted the opening on Monster and other sites - and she said, "not one woman applied." That didn't surprise me. Business-as-usual hasn't significantly moved the percentages of women at the top in years.

What it will take is business-not-as-usual. Actions such as Larry Page's announcement at Google that he wouldn't sign new offer letters until the gender ratio changed. The HR exec at the company that got zero applications from women could have actively sources for such an important position - and her CEO might have required a diverse slate (but didn't). What business-not-as-usual is your company taking?

Lead ON!
Susan Colantuono is CEO of Leading Women and author of No Ceiling, No Walls.  Follow her on Twitter.
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SLOW and Unsteady Progress

Catalyst released its 2010 Census and it's receiving a bit of coverage (Today online, Seek4Media, MyStateline, Reuters, LifeInc). Conventional wisdom over the summer was that business had been experiencing a "mancession" and that we were experiencing "The End of Men."  I didn't believe a word of it, but because the facts are in opposition to the new conventional wisdom, this release by Catalyst is getting more than its usual coverage. Catalyst is reporting that
136 of Fortune 500 companies had no women executives, among them Exxon Mobil, Berkshire Hathaway, Citigroup, Costco Wholesale and Sears Holding. Women held 14.4 per cent of executive officer positions in 2010, up from 13.5 per cent in 2009, and female executive officers held 7.6 per cent of the top earning positions, up from 6.3 per cent last year, the 2010 Catalyst Census showed.
"This is our fifth report where the annual change in female leadership remained flat. If this trend line represented a patient's pulse, she'd be dead," said Ms Ilene Lang, president and chief executive of Catalyst, a non-profit organisation that advocates greater opportunities for women.
The best five companies in terms of women in the executive suite were Gap, H&R Block, Limited Brands, TIAA-CREF and Western Union.
More than 10 per cent of companies lacked any women on their boards last year and this year."
What bothers me about the coverage is that Ilene Lang's rationale for getting women into leadership is not one that's likely to convince boards and C-suite men to take action. She is quoted as saying, "To be successful, they have to have more points of view - people from all kinds of backgrounds - and have diversity in the senior leadership." A different winning argument would be that companies that have gender-neutral advancement practices (more outcome-oriented versus subjective) get more women to the top which is likely to account for the correlation between women at the top and financial performance. So, uncover and remedy bias in your systems if the top of diverse organizations is mostly male.

The Catalyst census also points to the importance of having sponsors (as opposed to mentors.) Don't get me started on this subject! Women have been told to get mentors (which actually meant sponsors back when the advice started in the 70s) for nearly 4 decades. Formalizing these mentoring programs eliminated the "sponsorship" element and revisiting this to establish formal "sponsorship" programs will do the same and we'll be looking for a new word in 40 years to describe the commitment of more senior people to help more junior advance.

Jenna Goudreau picks up the Catalyst information and writes about the discrepancies in impact between women and men who have mentors. Her bottom line advice is:
"Professional women should seek out mentors at the highest levels of leadership. Those that do are promoted at the same rate as men with mentors at the top. Less clear is why women’s compensation lags behind men’s even with a mentor at the top."
But advice to get a senior mentor (or sponsor) misses the point if you don't know what to seek from the relationship.

Special Tip for You!
At Leading Women we offer unconventional advice about how women can make the most of mentoring relationships. Hint: ask for a piece of P.I.E. Want to know more about what this means and how it can fuel your career success? Email me.

A few random links:  
These two studies relate in one way: "Almost 3% of women were dismissed from their jobs, the study found, while less than 1% of their male counterparts suffered the same fate."
Lead ON!
Susan Colantuono is CEO of Leading Women and author of No Ceiling, No Walls.  Follow her on Twitter.

Who's Failing Whom?

 In a article, titled " Why Business Schools are Failing Women," Selena Rezvani and Sandie Taylor explain that most business schools do a poor job recruiting and addressing the needs of women. With this I wholeheartedly agree.

But within the article that I came across very disturbing information. They write, here are common questions that women ask:
"--Can I be liked and respected?
--How do I project a firm, credible presence so that I'm taken seriously?
--Can I have the job of my dreams and a family?
--How feminine can I be in this largely male environment?
--What's the best way to maneuver through a male-female power struggle?
--How can I be sure this is a gender issue for that matter?"
While these are important questions, at least if we believe what we read in women-oriented media, they do not get to the heart of women's career success. So, I'd like to offer quick (and slightly irreverent) answers and then get on to more meaty questions.

"--Can I be liked and respected? Yes
--How do I project a firm, credible presence so that I'm taken seriously? See below.
--Can I have the job of my dreams and a family? Yes, reference most of the F500 women CEOs.
--How feminine can I be in this largely male environment? Well, you can't show too much cleavage.
--What's the best way to maneuver through a male-female power struggle? Strategically.
--How can I be sure this is a gender issue for that matter?" Do you see the same thing happening to men?
4 Questions for Career Success
Answering these questions might quell concerns, but they will not help women advance. Instead, here are 4 questions that any woman could ask in order to create a career that soars™:
  1. How can I develop and demonstrate the business, strategic and financial acumen that will advance my career?
  2. How do I build and nurture the right strategic networks of people inside and outside the organization?
  3. What are the worldviews of successful leaders and how can I cultivate mine?
  4. How do the answers to these questions change as I move up?
These are certainly not the only questions that will help advance careers, but these questions will serve women at every career stage from grad school to the C-suite and onto corporate boards. You'll find more questions along with answers and tips in No Ceiling, No Walls.

More from Forbes
In the past, I've covered this in our Lead ON! newsletter, but thought it worth posting here as well. From Carol Hymowitz' blog.
"Just 28% of some 800 companies that McKinsey surveyed for its 2009 Women Matter study cited “achieving leadership diversity” among their top 10 priorities and 40% of the companies surveyed said “it wasn’t a priority at all,” Barsh said.
The study also found that women and men have very different views about what’s needed to achieve gender parity in leadership ranks. Some 70% of the female leaders who were surveyed said they thought women needed to hold at least 30% of senior posts in business, government and elsewhere to be taken seriously and to influence decision making. But a majority of male leaders surveyed didn’t think having a critical mass of women in senior roles mattered. (Barsh agreed with the women’s perspective.)
Moreover, many companies “mistakenly think if they offer women flexible work schedules (so they can more easily balance childrearing and jobs) they’ve done enough,” said Barsh. But companies also need to analyze and improve how they developing, paying and retaining women."
And Davia Temin covered the Harvard Kennedy School's Women and Public Policy program, and co-sponsored by the Council of Women World Leaders and the World Economic Forum (Davos). She lists these findings:

  • "The more complex the issue, the more diversity improves the correct outcomes of decision-making.
  • Quotas do work! In India, where there are gender quotas for female chief councilors in the villages, strong evidence shows that "villagers who have never been required to have a female leader prefer male leaders and perceive female leaders as less effective than their male counterparts," even when performance is identical, according to MIT professor Esther Duflo. But "exposure to a female leader ... weakens stereotypes about gender roles ... and eliminates the negative bias in how female leaders' effectiveness is perceived among male villagers. ...
  • There is a strong correlation around the world between gender inequity and poverty: The greater the gender inequity, the greater the poverty.
The overwhelming conclusion of the conference was that the time is uniquely right--the time is now--to make significant impact through a combination of hard data and measurement, case studies and advocacy. Closing the gender gap is, as Bohnet stated, not only a human rights issue, it is a verifiable business imperative for our society's well-being."
To find out what's happening at the Kennedy School go here.

Lead ON!
Susan Colantuono is CEO of Leading Women and author of No Ceiling, No Walls.  Follow her on Twitter.

2 Steps Back and 1 Step Forward

Since last month when I signed Vision 2020's Declaration of Equality (please go and sign it here: ) the Senate failed to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act because the entire republican block including Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins voted against it. That's the 2 steps back.

Now, for the 1 step forward - this week as reported in the Iowa Independent,
"U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) called for testimony on a more than 30-year-old United Nation’s treaty — one that was signed by President Jimmy Carter in 1980 but has never been brought to the floor of the U.S. Senate for an up-or-down vote. The treaty, known as the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women, or CEDAW, has been called an international bill of rights for women and has been ratified by all but seven countries. In addition to the U.S., other hold-out countries include Sudan, Iran, Somalia and three small Pacific Island nations.

“CEDAW is about giving women all over the world the chance to enjoy the same freedoms and opportunities that American women have struggled long and hard to achieve,” explained Durbin, who led the CEDAW hearing as part of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Human Rights and Law. “These are fundamentally American freedoms — the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness — and CEDAW is a fundamentally American treaty. Women have been waiting for 30 years. It’s long past time for the U.S. to ratify this treaty and we should do so without further delay.”
Unfortunately, instead of highlighting the very real challenges that are faced daily by women in the U.S., Durbin instead closed his call with this:

“The U.S. does not need to ratify CEDAW to protect the rights of American women and girls,” concluded Durbin. “While more progress is needed, women have fought long and hard for equal rights in the U.S. and have won many victories along the way. … American women have rights and freedoms that far exceed those required under CEDAW — and ratifying the treaty would not change current U.S. law in any way. The United States ought to ratify the treaty to ensure our dedication to the protection of human rights around the world isn’t questioned.”
And, if that's the perspective needed to get the U.S. to ratify thereby separating itself from the Sudan, Iran and Somalia on this issue, so be it, but Michelle Chen aptly points out in a Huff Post editorial that ratification could cause headaches for our legislators on two provisions of Article 11:
"(d) The right to equal remuneration, including benefits, and to equal treatment in respect of work of equal value, as well as equality of treatment in the evaluation of the quality of work;
(e) The right to social security, particularly in cases of retirement, unemployment, sickness, invalidity and old age and other incapacity to work, as well as the right to paid leave"
If you care about legal protection for the gains we've made and further action on the family-friendly policies that study after study says are important for women's continued gains in the workplace, consider a call to your senator on this issue.

Lead ON!
Susan Colantuono is CEO of Leading Women and author of No Ceiling, No Walls.  Follow her on Twitter.

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Personal Brand > Professional Brand > Leadership Brand

This morning I commented on the ForbesWoman LinkedIn group to a discussion on personal branding. The question was, "are businesswomen avoiding the spotlight, not as focused on Personal Branding as men?" Here's my response:
"My research confirms that women are less likely to seek the spotlight and develop a professional brand by displaying expertise in many arenas. For example, in several gender-neutral LinkedIn groups on leadership, the comments are overwhelmingly offered by men. Another, a review a few years ago of HBR articles showed that nearly all were written by men.

That being said, I wouldn't say that women are not as focused on our Personal brands. We are mis-focused. Here's why: most messages we receive about personal branding are over-focused on personal style: attire, fitness, accessories. This mis-focus on style is coupled with women's humility and distaste for or discomfort with self-promotion. As a result we often don't look for or take advantage of opportunities to establish professional competence and leadership credibility."
This was a timely question. Yesterday I presented to the WISE group at New York Life. One of the most important pieces of advice I offered was that there is a difference between your personal, professional and leadership brands. This is a distinction rarely made, but absolutely essential for women who are working to create careers that soar or businesses that succeed.

If you'd like to learn more about the distinction and how to make it work for you, please email

Lead ON!
Susan Colantuono is CEO of Leading Women and author of No Ceiling, No Walls.  Follow her on Twitter.

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Aung San Suu Kyi Free

In the chapter in No Ceiling, No Walls where I discuss the importance of living your values I highlight Nobel Peace Prize winner, Aung San Suu Kyi because she has steadfastly held to and her commitment to non-violence and action for democracy.

I'm delighted to report that after 7 and a half years under house arrest,  she has been released by the military junta in control of the government of Burma/Myanmar.
"If we work in unity, we will achieve our goal. We have a lot of things to do," she told the well-wishers, who quickly swelled to as many as 5,000. Speaking briefly in Burmese, she said they would see each other again Sunday at the headquarters of her political party."
You will find a short photo history about her here.

I bow to and honor her inspiring example. Seeing the admiration of the throngs for whom she is a symbol makes me teary.
Lead ON!
Susan Colantuono is CEO of Leading Women and author of No Ceiling, No Walls.  Follow her on Twitter.

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A Smorgasbord of News from Around the Country...and Globe

News from our Kiwi Friends...

In its Census of Women's Participation, published today, the Human Rights Commission outlines where women are losing past gains, and is particularly critical of private companies.
"The corporate sector remains an embarrassment for New Zealand in terms of diversity of governance, at a time when women are increasingly consumers, customers, clients, employers, employees and investors," the report says.
It is perplexing that boardroom doors are shut to women at a time when global business requires transformation."
 And from the U.K.
"According to Beverley Skeggs, professor at Goldsmiths, University of London, the gender pay gap between graduates is not improving. ' are much less likely to get equivalent jobs, they are less likely to be promoted as quickly so there is absolutely phenomenal gender inequality in our society that hasn't been addressed," she remarked."
Exec Women Fired More...Choose Departures More
I tried to read the original report, but the best I could do was find an article in Time that had some meat about it and the Oregon State Universtity news release.
"Women executives  are more likely to be asked to leave than men (2.9% versus 0.9 %), plus more likely to leave on their own accord (4.3% versus 2.8 %), says the study, which was conducted analyzing Standard & Poor's information on 1,500 firms, and was published in October's issue of Economic Inquiry. "The evidence suggests that women are being drawn out and forced out at higher rates. However, we don't see too much evidence of a systematic pattern in the types of firms that are forcing or having women drawn out," says lead author John Becker-Blease, an assistant professor of finance at Oregon State University. 'So, in a sense, it seems the playing field is uniformly tilted against women across firms.'"

Here's an interesting related statistic:  
Globally, senior male executives (75 percent of them) usually have a stay-at-home partner, while 74 percent of senior women executives have a partner who works full time.

Encountering Gender Fatigue
I've thought a lot about this as I've worked with F500 corporations this year. I see, especially in young women and many men in leadership, a belief that gender is no longer an issue in advancement decisions. This in spite of ample evidence to the contrary. HR execs who report statements such as, "she wouldn't want that position because she has a family" (so she's not even offered an opportunity to consider it) or who report that out of 40 or more managers viewed as high potential successors for executive positions none are women. And so I was pleased to come across the term "gender fatigue" in this Washington Post article by Selena Razvani.
"Others see gender discrimination as the reason why we're not experiencing change. Elisabeth Kelan, a scholar on gender in organizations, notes the shifting appearance of this workplace inequity. "The nature of gender discrimination has changed, moving from being blatant to being more subtle. The latter is much harder to detect and act upon. This does not mean that blatant gender discrimination has gone away―but subtle forms of gender discrimination are very common experiences in the workplace today, yet rarely expressed as such."
The phenomenon Kelan describes is called "gender fatigue," a state where people, as a default, tend to perceive their workplaces as gender neutral. Gender discrimination is seen as happening elsewhere or as incidents of the past that would not happen today. Most people don't want to believe that they work in and support a discriminatory workplace (or that they themselves discriminate), so they justify and rationalize that the discrimination doesn't exist.
I contend that the bystander effect is also at play. The more people there are in a given situation, the more we diffuse responsibility and assume "someone else will handle it." Many people know that gender inclusion is an issue, but think it's someone else's job or that another person is tackling it. Building on this observation, Bain & Company, along with Harvard Business Review, conducted a survey early this year that highlighted the levels of interest in parity work. They found that more than 70 percent of employees believe gender parity programs are failing. However, 84 percent of women surveyed believe that gender parity should be a strategic imperative for their company; while only 48 percent of men agree."
That's a lot of food for thought!

Lead ON!
Susan Colantuono is CEO of Leading Women and author of No Ceiling, No Walls.  Follow her on Twitter.

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Keeping an Eye on Progress

This week, the Calvert Group, a socially responsible mutual fund, released a study of the Corporate Diversity Practices of the S&P 100 companies and the findings are mixed. While some of the companies -  are doing very well, others fall short.
"We are very concerned about the fact that women and minorities continue to be underrepresented at the highest levels of management," says Calvert Group President and CEO Barbara J. Krumsiek of the study. "Without a pipeline of female and minority executives in highly paid, highly responsible positions, it will be very difficult to achieve board diversity, which is critical to strong governance and good management."
We congratulate the companies that scored 80% or higher - including several of our clients: Johnson & Johnson, Campbell Soup, AT&T, Pfizer, PepsiCo, CVS Caremark and Bank of America. It's an honor to be working with these innovative companies.

And we encourage those scoring lower to continue their efforts to create cultures that enable diverse talent to rise to the top.

On another note:

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Susan Colantuono is CEO of Leading Women and author of No Ceiling, No Walls.  Follow her on Twitter.

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Equality in Our Lifetime?

Here I am getting ready for the second day of the Vision 2020 Conversation about Women and Leadership. Yesterday Rosemary Greco, Vision 2020 co-chair, said, "Democracy is not sustainable without full equality" and full equality seems far from reach. Most of us know the stats, I can pretty much summarize them as Geena Davis (actress and founder of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media)  did last night - on average, women hold 17% of leadership positions across all sectors.

Yesterday we were in conversation with an amazing collection of women and men in business, finance, law, education, health and media. From conversation each of the delegates from all 50 states plus the District of Columbia will take action to advance women's equality in advance of the 100th anniversary of women's suffrage.

To get involved, find your state's delegates and reach out to take action to advance women's equality.

Lead ON!
Susan Colantuono is CEO of Leading Women and author of No Ceiling, No Walls.  Follow her on Twitter.

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Imagine Leading Women Expanding in India!

Here's our entry into British Airways Faces of Opportunity competition. Please vote for us here (you can vote once a day until 10/29):

As effective as virtual meeting platforms are, there is nothing like face to face meetings to launch our Leading Women affiliate in India.

We have selected Radhika and Girija to be our affiliate presidents there. Both are accomplished young women with solid business education and a passion for entrepreneurship. Their goal is to build a thriving local affiliate by powering the success of other women in business and helping organizations advance women into leadership.

At Leading Women our founding vision has been to become the global go-to-resource for women who are serious about their careers and companies that are serious about advancing women. Our award-winning business has over 5000 members in the U.S. and counts dozens of FORTUNE 500 and other companies as our partners. Expansion into other countries, including India, is a key component of our business plan.

Face to face meetings with Girija and Radhika will accelerate that expansion. Meeting in the same room enables faster onboarding with our business model, quicker launch of their services, more efficient training on our platform and materials, earlier attainment of their financial goals and the nurturing of the personal relationships that make our business thrive.

The World Economic Forum has found a strong correlation between gender equality and a country's prosperity and economic competitiveness. For Radhika and Girija the opportunity to support India's continued growth by supporting the careers of women is a dream.

You can help them launch their careers as Leading Women affiliate presidents. Your vote will enable them to inspire, power and honor the success of women leaders in their home country and enable Leading Women to continue to advance women from career-start to the C-suite and onto corporate boards.

BUSINESS TIP: Use this definition of leadership to set up your daily activities and to measure your effectiveness at the end - "Leadership is using the greatness in you to achieve and sustain extraordinary outcomes by engaging the greatness in others." Susan L. Colantuono, CEO & Founder Leading Women

Make sure you step into every day on the platform of your strengths, that you maintain focus on important business outcomes and that you are engaging and aligning the right people in your strategic network - whether they are employees down the hall or customers around the globe.

Lead ON!
Susan Colantuono is CEO of Leading Women and author of No Ceiling, No Walls.  Follow her on Twitter.

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US in Top 20: WEF 2010 Gender Gap Report

The World Economic Forum's 2010 Gender Gap Report is out. The U.S. has made it into the top 20 countries for the first time ever.

The Global Gender Gap Report 2010
Published 12 October 2010
Nordic countries Iceland (1), Norway (2), Finland (3) and Sweden (4) continue to demonstrate the greatest equality between men and women according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2010.
According to the report’s index, the level of gender equality in France (46) has sunk as the number of women in ministerial positions has fallen over the past 12 months. The United States (19) closed its gender gap, rising 12 places to enter the top 20 for the first time in the report’s five-year history. The climb reflects the higher number of women in leading roles in the current administration and improvements in the wage gap.
"The 2010 report brings together five years worth of data. We find that out of the 114 countries covered over this time period 86% have narrowed their gender gaps, while 14% are regressing"
Saadia Zahidi, Director and Head of Constituents, World Economic Forum
Watch the video on YouTube
October 2010 - 2 min 29 sec

"The World Economic Forum's Gender Gap Report shows a strong correlation between gender equality and a country's prosperity and economic competitiveness. It should be an indispensable reference for anyone who wants to advance economic, social and political progress worldwide or understand one of the critical reasons why some countries progress and others do not. I find the Gender Gap Report invaluable."
Melanne Verveer, US Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues

"The Global Gender Gap Report highlights serious gender inequities that need to be rectified. But just as important, it shines a light on the squandered resources that result from our failure to leverage female human capital. The report's message is one that businesses must heed -- not just out of fairness but because companies are wasting talents and skills that can generate significant competitive advantage."
Vineet Nayar, Chief Executive Officer, HCL Technologies

"As the working-age population continues to shrink around the world, the mismatch between where talent is available and where it is needed will inevitably worsen. Solving this conundrum is not easy and means considering untapped and underleveraged talent pools. Unfortunately, women remain chronically underrepresented in the workforce, as diversity of thought, perspective and background creates an energy in organizations that in turn translate into more profitable businesses."
Jeffrey Joerres, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Manpower

More Women = Better Decisons!

In a surprising twist when analyzing a study on collective intelligence, researchers found that
"...the number of women in a group had significant predictive power. “We didn’t design this study to focus on the gender effect,” Malone said. “That was a surprise to us.” One implication is that the level of collective intelligence should keep rising along with the proportion of women in a group. To be sure, as Malone said, that gender effect is a generalization. “Of course some males have more social skill or social sensitivity than females,” Malone acknowledged. “What our results indicate is that people with social skills are good for a group — whether they are male or female.”
 There has been controversy about whether diverse groups are more effective than homogenous groups - diverse groups tend to have more conflict, but this study seems to put that issue to rest.
"“We did not know if groups would show a general cognitive ability across tasks,” said Thomas W. Malone, the Patrick J. McGovern Professor of Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management, one of the authors of the paper. “But we found that there is a general effectiveness, a group collective intelligence, which predicts a group’s performance in a lot of situations.”

That effectiveness, the researchers believe, stems from how well the group works together. Groups whose members had higher levels of “social sensitivity” — the willingness of the group to let all its members take turns and apply their skills to a given challenge — were more collectively intelligent. “Social sensitivity has to do with how well group members perceive each other’s emotions,” said Malone. “In groups where one person dominated, the group was less intelligent than in groups where the conversational turns were more evenly distributed.” Teams containing more women demonstrated greater social sensitivity and in turn collective intelligence, compared to teams containing fewer women.

When ‘groupthink’ is good

To arrive at their conclusions, the researchers conducted two studies in which 699 people were placed in groups of two to five and worked on tasks that ranged from visual puzzles to negotiations, brainstorming, games and complex rule-based design assignments. The researchers concluded that a group’s collective intelligence accounted for about 30 to 40 percent of the variation in performance.

Moreover, the researchers found that the performances of groups were not primarily due to the individual abilities of the group members."
Lead ON!
Susan Colantuono is CEO of Leading Women and author of No Ceiling, No Walls.  Follow her on Twitter.

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Thank You FORTUNE!

This year, FORTUNE's Most Powerful Women conference ran virtually thanks to and so from the comfort of my office, between calls, I was able to listen and watch to women who are among the most powerful in the country.

I've been searching for videos of those who spoke and here are some you will be able to watch. The entire conference is supposed to be up "on demand" but isn't yet.
  • Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State a wide-ranging look at the ways the U.S. is using foreign policy to increase opportunities for women and girls here and globally.
  • President Barack Obama who speaks about the important women in his life and administration, his grandmother's glass ceiling, the CEO partnership to bring science and math education to girls called "Change the Equation" and more.
Among the many other clips I hope to share with you are those of
  • Ursula Burns, CEO Xerox
  • Ellen Kullman, CEO Dupont
  • Patricia Woertz, CEO Archer Daniels Midland
 Why? Because the more exposure we have to these virtual role models who have made it to the highest levels in business, the more we benefit from the lessons we can learn about how they got there, how they manage being there, how they view the world and how they speak about business.

Lead ON!
Susan Colantuono is CEO of Leading Women and author of No Ceiling, No Walls.  Follow her on Twitter.

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Wage Gap and Lipstick (Yes, Indulge Me)

$$Wage Gap$$
According to the census bureau (and as reported by USA Today) the wage gap between women and men is smaller than it has ever been. But is this good news? I'd say not. The reason is that so many men have lost good-paying that might never return.

Here's how related trends break down:
"Women have held their own or increased dominance in the skilled health care trades — nurses, physical therapists, lab technicians — that are growing in employment. Nine of every 10 nurses are women — same as a decade ago.
Men have increased dominance in the industrial and construction trades such as sheet metal workers, printing press operators and roofers, but those jobs are declining in numbers. The computer business — programmers, operators, hardware engineers — is the only part of the modern economy in which men outpaced women in the past decade."
And, perhaps the most important quote from the article:
"It's not good news for women to have men making poor economic progress," says Carrie Lukas at the Independent Women's Forum. "This isn't a gender war. If men lose, that doesn't mean that women win."
It is worth noting, that when I did a Google news search, this news was covered by only 6 media outlets.

On Lipstick
The cover of the October issue of Money Magazine symbolized women with a big smacker of a lipsticked set of lips. That same week a blogger writing as Rabbit Write invited women to join her for The No Make-up Week experiment.

While the two might seem totally disconnected, here's what I make of them. The premise of the Money article (a similar WSJ article and a CBS MoneyWatch report) is that women come out at the short end when it comes to retirement funds.

The reasons are many (read the articles to find out), but the one that no one talked about is this...

Women have to buy makeup...and cosmetics and have our hair styled and colored and get our nails done and toenails and buy jewelry and accessories. To sum it up, we are exhorted from everywhere to spend money on accoutrements that men don't (or pay much less for) and we make less than they do. No wonder there's little left to save! So, if we all went without makeup (and some other supposed necessities) and put the money into retirement accounts, maybe we'd be better off.

Women CEOs More Trusted
For the second year, the Management Today Institute of Leadership and Management reports that the overall trust in women CEOs remains higher than for men.
"Women rate more highly than their male counterparts both when it comes to employees having confidence in their boss's ability to do their job and also when it comes to being principled and honest. Female CEOs score higher than male CEOs in these areas by two and three index points respectively. But the really important differentiator is chief executives' knowledge of what their employees have to contend with in their day-to-day lives - female CEOs are seven points ahead of their male counterparts on this measure."
Everything New is Old Again
Having been around for a while, it gets my goat when the same old advice is packaged up as new advice for the new reality. Excuse me, but these ten tips have been around in one form or another for the 40 years I've been in business! You'd think that HBR and Success Magazine would know better.

Lead ON!
Susan Colantuono is CEO of Leading Women and author of No Ceiling, No Walls.  Follow her on Twitter.

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First Woman Gondolier!

Okay, I'm Italian American by heritage so indulge me. The Telegraph reports that there is finally a woman gondolier in Venice. Giorgia Boscolo makes quite a splash (hopefully not literally)
"Ms Boscolo's achievement is truly remarkable as since gondoliers took to the waterways of Venice in 1094, there has never been a woman among them..."The guys joked with me that a woman would not be able to control a heavy and long gondola, but I told them that I had given birth to two children and that was far more difficult."
But wait, what's this? The BBC reports...well, you read it:
"...the BBC's David Willey in Rome says that even now, Giorgia Boscolo can only stand in for a male colleague if he wants to take a day off from the lucrative job of rowing tourists."
Shout out to Jeanine Palumbo for the link!

Lead ON!
Susan Colantuono is CEO of Leading Women and author of No Ceiling, No Walls.  Follow her on Twitter.

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A Compendium of News

Going, g o i n g, g o n e
WSJ reports that women are leaving financial institutions at a rate far greater than their male counterparts (see above).
"In the past 10 years, 141,000 women, or 2.6% of female workers in finance, left the industry. The ranks of men grew by 389,000 in that period, or 9.6%, according to a review of data provided by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The shift runs counter to changes in the overall work force. The number of women in the U.S. labor market has grown by 4.1% in the past decade, outpacing a 0.5% increase in male workers.
The difference is pronounced at brokerage firms, investment banks and asset-management companies."
Thanks to Francesca for the heads up on this story.

Thumbs Up... Thumbs Down
As part of the Clinton Global Initiative, Coca Cola has committed to have women represent 50% of their micro-distribution centers (basically individual entrepreneurs who distribute product to retailers). While this is great news on one level, my trip to Guatemala in June was evidence of two dangers from American beverage companies: an overabundance of waste in developing countries without the infrastructure to handle it and the very sad feeding of cola products to infants.

Let's Hear it for the Swiss!
For the first time, Switzerland has more women in its cabinet than men. This a mere 40 years after women gaining the right to vote. Now, why is U.S. so far behind after nearly 100 years?
"The four-three majority makes Switzerland only the fourth country in the world to have more women than men in its cabinet, according to the Inter-Parliamentary Union. The others are Cape Verde, Finland, and Norway."
Vision 2020
Speaking of 100 years of women's suffrage...Next month is the first meeting of Vision 2020, a decade-long initiative to advance women's equality in advance of the 100th anniversary of women's sufferage. I am honored to be one of the delegates from RI and look forward to the first meeting next month. Please reach out to your state's delegates and ask what you can do to make change.

And speaking of what's left to be done. Here's what Jenna Goudreau of ForbesWoman has to say.
"In 2010, women are legally able to achieve equal footing. But have they? They are now half of the workforce, but earn only 78% as much as men. They earn the majority of bachelors and masters degrees, but are still more likely to serve as primary parent and housekeeper for the family. We came close to a female president but haven’t had one. Meanwhile Ireland, India, Costa Rica and Liberia have elected a female leader. Women are 51% of management and professional workers, yet in the largest companies in the U.S. only 3% have female CEOs and only 16% of board members are women. For the first time in history, we have three female Supreme Court justices. Time to celebrate? Only 17% of Congress members are women, and only six of the nation’s 50 governors are women."
More on the "Glass Cliff"
In 2004, the term "glass cliff" was coined to describe women who are placed in leadership positions in organizations in precarious financial situations. Summarized in the British Psychological Society's Research Blog, the study by Susanne Bruckmüller and Nyla Branscombe finds:
"...the phenomenon occurs firstly, because a crisis shifts people's stereotyped view of what makes for an ideal leader, and secondly, because men generally don't fit that stereotype. '...[I]t may not be so important for the glass cliff that women are stereotypically seen as possessing more of the attributes that matter in times of crisis,' the researchers wrote, 'but rather that men are seen as lacking these attributes ...'."
That's Dr. Ms....
For the first time ever women earned the majority (50.4%) of doctoral degrees awarded in 2008-09. Most in public administration, health sciences and education.

Women continue to lag behind in mathematics, computer sciences, physical sciences (all <30%), style="font-weight: bold;">Going, going, g o n e?
Women in financial institutions are disappearing, well relatively speaking. (See graph above)
"In the past 10 years, 141,000 women, or 2.6% of female workers in finance, left the industry. The ranks of men grew by 389,000 in that period, or 9.6%, according to a review of data provided by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The shift runs counter to changes in the overall work force. The number of women in the U.S. labor market has grown by 4.1% in the past decade, outpacing a 0.5% increase in male workers.
The difference is pronounced at brokerage firms, investment banks and asset-management companies."
Goldman Sachs in the Crosshairs
Once again a financial institution has been sued for gender discrimination. If it goes the way of Morgan Stanley, it could come at a substantial cost. Morgan Stanley paid out a $54million award.
"Wall Street doesn't get it," said Kelly Dermody, a partner at Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein LLP representing the plaintiffs.
"Even as some (women) do crack the glass ceiling, Wall Street continues to pay them less, relegate them to jobs that have less upside potential, and exclude them from important clients and business opportunities," she added."
Lead ON!
Susan Colantuono is CEO of Leading Women and author of No Ceiling, No Walls. She blogs on networking for PINK Magazine. Follow her on Twitter.
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Two Fewer F500 Women CEOs

This summer Mary Sammons, resigned as CEO of RiteAid.

This morning I read of Brenda Barnes' resignation as CEO of Sara Lee to focus on her health after suffering a stroke earlier in the year.

For the past few years, I've been able to post photos of the 15 women F500 CEOs, whom I call "your virtual mentors" in my book No Ceiling, No Walls. The important message they convey comes through their wide ranging diversity. They come from different backgrounds and lead with different styles.

It's doubtful that we'll get back up to 15 any time soon (although I hope I'm proved wrong).

Lead ON!
Susan Colantuono is CEO of Leading Women and author of No Ceiling, No Walls. She blogs on networking for PINK Magazine. Follow her on Twitter.
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How'd I Miss This?

Back in March, the World Economic Forum (have I already mentioned that I love their research?) issued a new report on the gender gap in worldwide corporations. The Corporate Gender Gap Report is a complement to the Global Gender Gap Report and highlights one of the areas that the WEF analyzes to come up with its country rankings. Here are excerpts from the news release about the report. I'll download and read the entire document over the weekend.
"The United States (52%), Spain (48%), Canada (46%) and Finland (44%) have the highest percentage of women employees at all levels among the responding companies. India is the country with the lowest percentage of women employees (23%), followed by Japan (24%), Turkey (26%) and Austria (29%). At the industry level, the findings of the survey confirm that the services sector employs the greatest percentage of women employees. Within this sector, the financial services and insurance (60%), professional services (56%) and media and entertainment (42%) industries employ the greatest percentage of women. The sectors that display the lowest percentage of women in the 20 economies are automotive (18%), mining (18%) and agriculture (21%).

Female employees tend to be concentrated in entry or middle level positions and remain scarce in senior management or board positions in most countries and industries. A major exception to this trend is Norway, where the percentage of women among boards of directors is above 40% for the majority of respondents. This is due to a government regulation that mandates a minimum of 40% of each gender on the boards of public companies.

The average for women holding the CEO-level position was a little less than 5% among the 600 companies surveyed. Finland (13%), Norway (12%), Turkey (12%), Italy (11%) and Brazil (11%) have the highest percentage of women CEOs in this sample.

Although wage gaps between women and men are a universally recognized problem, 72% of the companies surveyed do not attempt to track salary gaps at all. However, a more positive revelation is that almost 40% of the companies surveyed claim to be setting specified targets, quotas or other affirmative policies to improve women’s participation in their structures. With the exception of Mexico and Brazil, the majority of companies in most countries claim to offer longer-term leave or career breaks for parents or care-givers."

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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Spreading Good News!

Earlier this month, Jim Kristie of Directors and Boards reported good news on women on boards.
"Last year, women represented 39% of all new board appointments! That is up from the previous record high of 25% representation in 2008. And way way up from the more typical 13% when we first started recording board appointments in 1994.

That 39% figure represents 165 women out of 424 board positions filled in 2009 as recorded in the Directors & Boards Directors Roster.

We do an authoritative tracking on a quarterly and annual basis of public company board appointments. I have reviewed the parameters of our Directors Roster reporting here. These are numbers you can take to the bank.

Something big happened in 2009 — women did indeed make a major advance in securing board appointments. We may be the lone voice in the wilderness of board diversity surveys to note that, but it is true and it offers the promise of much stronger advancement by women in the boardroom in the future."
Thanks, Jim, for spreading the news! Glad to pass it on.

Lead ON!
Susan Colantuono is CEO of Leading Women and author of No Ceiling, No Walls. She blogs on networking for PINK Magazine. Follow her on Twitter.
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World Cup of Women's Advancement?

I love soccer! Although I played field hockey, I cheered for my brother when he played. Needless to say, I've been watching the World Cup. (Congratulations to Spain!)

While watching, I couldn't help but imagine if the World Economic Forum were able to turn the Global Gender Gap Report into a live action competition.

Countries would compete to demonstrate how they had improved the status of women in the 4 measured categories:

  • Economic participation: salaries, participation in the economy, access to high-skilled employment.
  • Educational attainment: access to basic and higher education.
  • Political empowerment: representation in decision-making bodies.
  • Health and survival: life expectancy and gender ratio

Picture it now...

  • Teams of CEOs highlighting the advancement of women to executive and board positions.
  • Politicians racing to deliver photos of their more balanced governing bodies.
  • Parents competing to demonstrate that their daughters are in school at all levels.
  • And the medical community testifying to the extended life expectancy of women and the health of girls.

Imagine the suspense...will Norway once again rise to 1st place? Will Sri Lanka, the Phillipines and Lesotho remain in the top 10? Will the US improve on its (mortifying) number 31 position?

Wouldn't that have a greater impact on the world than soccer/futbol?

Anyone want to produce a reality TV show?

Lead ON!
Susan Colantuono is CEO of Leading Women and author of No Ceiling, No Walls. She blogs on networking for PINK Magazine. Follow her on Twitter.
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Factoring In the Male Factor

Last month was the 47th anniversary of the Equal Pay Act and women are still suing for wage and gender discrimination - e.g. the Novartis award in May(see prior post), and also the class action suit against WalMart that got the go-ahead last month.

So, why 40 years later are women still behind in compensation, too few in the executive suite and experiencing blatant discrimination?

Surely, there are things about us that need addressing. For example, as I discuss in No Ceiling, No Walls, women must effectively speak the language of business to counter the stereotype that we don't have business acumen. As discussed by Shaunti Feldhahn in The Male Factor, there are communication and attire issues to attend to.

But there is one factor that's substantively dropped off the radar screen - direct action by men to confront the impact of their positive and negative stereotypes about women and men. (For example, the positive stereotype that men have more business acumen is as powerful a force against women as the negative stereotype that women are more emotional. This is because people are unlikely to seek contrary evidence to their beliefs.)

In the 1970s, cutting edge corporations tackled attitudes head on until. By virtue of their ages, many of the women who have become F500 CEOs were the beneficiaries of mentoring and promotions by men whose eyes were opened to the impact of gender stereotypes - whether through corporate programs or in the general media. Soon, though the mantra "don't mess with people's attitudes, just focus on behaviors" put an end to these efforts.

A reflection of this has been the nature of diversity training. Today, many diversity training programs tackle general concepts of inclusion for all groups (addressing as one conceptual lump age, gender, race, nationality, sexual orientation) instead of carefully examining group-specific stereotypes and assumptions. I believe that this is why the status of women of color has been particularly slow to change.

There is more robust research now than 40 years ago; research that could be used to address gender-based attitudes. For example, in addition to advising women how to work in male-dominated environments, it would be powerful to use the excellent research of The Male Factor to examine the beliefs that men hold. For example, most men believe that when one is emotional s/he can't also be logical. Brain research suggests that this is true for men, but not for women.

If you play a leadership role in your organization's women's initiative, consider adding work on stereotypes to the good work that you're already doing.

On another note, where have I been the past month? I went to Antigua and Lake Atitlan in Guatemala to make connections with several women's cooperatives. Keep your eyes peeled for an innovative leadership development program coming from Leading Women.

Lead ON!
Susan Colantuono is CEO of Leading Women and author of No Ceiling, No Walls. She blogs on networking for PINK Magazine. Follow her on Twitter.
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