It goes to show that no matter how high up in business or politics a woman gets — or how hard she falls — in the end the focus is often about how she looks and not what she does.
“We’re still held to a double standard,” said Jennifer Siebel Newsom, who produced the 2011 documentary “Miss Representation” about the underrepresentation of women in powerful positions.
“It’s tragic,” she said. “We have an obsession with women’s looks. Unfortunately our culture has bought into this whole double standard that a women’s value is her beauty not her capacity to lead.”
Women certainly feel the pressure to look good. Nearly half of women don’t feel good about themselves unless they’re wearing makeup, according to a study released this year by the Renfrew Center Foundation, a nonprofit that focuses on eating disorder research and treatment.
Each year, OWL team members, board members and other volunteers gather together to decide the most pressing issue facing midlife and older women. This issue is then researched and information is gathered to compile the Mother’s Day Report. These reports are free to all and we hope that you enjoy them!
2012 Women and the Workforce: Challenges and Opportunities Facing Women as They Age
This year’s report looks at how factors such as unemployment and underemployment, pay inequality, caregiving, age and gender discrimination, and education, training, and technology are impacting women age 40 and older. The report highlights existing programs that produce real results and offer innovative solutions and policy-driven recommendations to expand economic diversity and accelerate our nation’s productivity.
Barbara & Shannon Kelley look at women who opt out of the mommy track and instead work for themselves.
From the Huffington Post:
I came across an interesting study the other day that found that when it comes to independent work -- freelancing, consulting, you name it -- those indie workers are more likely to be women. According toMBO Partners' Independent Workforce Index, some 8.5 million women are choosing to fly solo when it comes to work, making up 53 percent of all independent workers.
It's all about work life balance and career satisfaction, the study found, adding that many of the women they surveyed are finding their choice to go it alone more rewarding than traditional work.
Sounds quite dreamy, doesn't it?
But when you look beyond the numbers, you realize there's more involved here than the entrepreneurial spirit or the freedom to go to work in your jammies -- which, when you come right down to it, really isn't all that dreamy. One reason for the growing number of women saying "oh, phooey" to the land of nine-to-five may speak to something beyond career satisfaction, and that's the workplace itself, which still skews a little Mad Men, where, for every Don behind the desk, there's a Betty at home to take care of business. (Okay, Betty's been replaced, but you get my point.)
This is especially true for women with kids. Back when we were doing research and reporting for ourbook, we came across a relevant study by Joan Williams, who's a professor at the University of California Hastings College of the Law and director of the Hastings Center for WorkLife Law. Her report, The Three Faces of Work-Family Conflict, authored with the Center for American Progress, found that women with families were often marginalized or even pushed out when their jobs demanded 24/7 availability or when "full time" meant fifty hours a week or more.
The Wall Street Journal reports on an experiment conducted recently at the University of Utah’s David Eccles School of Business that reveals that "those firms led by women…were expected to have less share-price appreciation, and when asked to invest, respondents would choose to invest less,”
From The Wall Street Journal:
More and more women over the last decade have climbed the corporate ladder into top management, but if they’re leading a company that’s trying to go public, they’re more likely to run into trouble than men.
“The big result of this study is that those firms led by women…were expected to have less share-price appreciation, and when asked to invest, respondents would choose to invest less,” said Assistant Professor Lyda Bigelow.
The negative feelings did not extend to companies with women in high levels of management, she added—just to the ones where women were chief executives.
A copy of the study, which has been accepted for publication by the Journal of Management, is here.
At an event hosted by the 2012 Project inNew York last night, a nonpartisan campaign to increase the number of women in Congress and state legislatures, Director Debbie Walsh was hopeful. This could be “a real year of opportunity much like 1992,” the original Year of the Woman, she said.
What makes her so optimistic? Due to retirements and redistricting, women are running for a bunch of open seats. In fact, 16 women are vying for just such opportunities in the Senate and 71 women are doing so in the House, according to the Rutgers Center for American Women and Politics. On top of that, Walsh pointed out, “We’re on track to set records for the number of women filing to run for the U.S. House and Senate.” A total 25 women have filed in the Senate with 14 likely women candidates poised to follow suit, and 225 have filed for the House with a potential extra 70 likely candidates set to do the same. Compare that to 36 women who filed in the Senate and 262 who filed in the House in 2010.
This isn’t just important for ensuring that our Congress – which has never been more than 18 percent women – better reflects the country’s population. It’s also important for getting women to turn out for the election in the first place. At the same event, Celinda Lake, president of polling firm Lake Research Partners, pointed out that while the “War on Women” episode may have gotten women’s attention, “to keep women in the Democratic camp they’ll have to work just as hard to target women voters.” The best way to do it? “Run women candidates.”
The ranks of female chief executives remain thin, with women in the top spot at just 35 Fortune 1000 companies. But the pipeline is promising, says Maggie Wilderotter, CEO of Frontier Communications Corp., adding that she has noticed a number of "women in waiting" at Xerox Corp. and Procter & Gamble Co., where she is a board member.
She adds that she wouldn't be surprised if the number of major-company female CEOs doubled by 2017. At her own employer, a diversified telecom firm, half of Ms. Wilderotter's six direct reports are women.
"If you want a CEO role, you have to prepare for it with a vengeance," says Denise Morrison, chief of Campbell Soup Co. CPB and Ms. Wilderotter's sister.
Are women really on track to become “the richer sex” and replace men as primary breadwinners in American families, as recent headlines suggest? Not quite. The notion that women are outpacing men on the job has become a popular media narrative over the past few years. But the data on which it’s based don’t hold up.
Last week, the Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that, in fact, we’re in the middle of a “mancovery”—while women are slipping backwards. Between June 2009 and June 2011, women lost close to 300,000 jobs, while men gained more than 800,000. “We've never seen a recovery like this,” the National Women's Law Center's Joan Entmacher told NPR, “where two years into the recovery women are doing so much worse than men and are actually losing ground.”
Still, the popular perception is that women are soaring. Much is made of the “fact” that more than 40 percent of American women are their family’s breadwinner. In her recentTime magazine cover piece (adapted fromher new book, The Richer Sex), for example, journalist Liza Mundy cites 2009 Bureau of Labor Statistics data saying that one in four women outearn their spouses. This claim was picked up by scores of media outlets.
But look a bit more closely at the numbers, and the picture doesn’t seem so rosy for women. Which women are advancing? Andwhich men are backsliding? The answers are important if you are going to talk about who’s getting “rich.”
Heather McTeer lost her long-shot bid to unseat Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson in Mississippi's March primary. But she hopes her attempt encourages other women in the South to run for office — whether for a seat on the school board or in Congress.
"Women need to see other women running," said McTeer, former mayor of Greenville, Miss. "Regardless of what it looks like, we have a voice, and a voice that absolutely must be heard."
McTeer is helping to recruit women to run for elective office in Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee for a group called She Should Run, which says its mission is to dramatically increase the number of women serving in public leadership.
It's just one of the groups, both national and local, that have stepped up efforts to recruit more women in the South to become political candidates. The region the Census Bureau identifies as the South is represented by 22 women in Congress.
There was a demonstration outside of Facebook’s New York office on Wednesday, organized by the women’s rights group UltraViolet, to protest the social media giant’s decision to appoint an all-white, all-male board ahead of its IPO. The group attempted to deliver a petition, signed by over 53,000 people, demanding that women be added to the board.
“Facebook is going to launch one of the largest IPO’s in history this summer, a success built largely on the participation of women – 58% of their users are women and the vast majority of sharing on the site is done by women – and yet zero people on the board are women.” said UltraViolet co-founder Shaunna Thomas.
Protesters argued that the decision to appoint an all-male board, was bad for the company and for users. Marie Wilson of the White House Project, an non-profit working to advance women in business, stressed the positive effects of women on boards, “We know the difference women make on boards in terms of long-term thinking that’s needed for the future and the value they bring in terms of what they want when they get on boards.” With the involvement of women, the board would better understand and serve its mostly female users, she argued.
Yale School of Management Assistant Professor Victoria Brescoll finds that even women in power purposely curtail how much they speak in a group because they’re aware, whether they like it or not, that being too outspoken can be off-putting.
Now an assistant professor at the Yale School of Management, Brescoll has recently published a paper in the Administrative Science Quarterly that looks at how much men and women who hold powerful positions talk in group settings. Her study found that while men who have high-power positions tend to talk much more than men without very powerful jobs, the difference in how much women in high- and low-power roles talk in group settings, on average, turns out to be insignificant. While that may not be surprising to many, Brescoll wanted to find out both why it happens and illustrate its actual occurrence in the real world.
Her hypothesis? Women — even those in power — purposely curtail how much they speak in a group because they’re aware, whether they like it or not, that being too outspoken can be off-putting. “When men talk a lot and they have power, people are like ‘oh, that’s fantastic, I’d vote for him.’ But when women do it, they are seen as being too domineering, too presumptuous. Women perceive this, and that’s why they temper how much they talk.” Or as Stanford professor Bob Sutton put it in a blog post about Brescoll’s work, “The blabber mouth approach works for guys, but backfires on women.”
To examine this question, Brescoll designed three studies.