I’ll admit it may seem odd that being labeled “angry” could serve any black person well. Let’s face it, leaders of the Civil Rights movement likely adopted a non-violent stance for both moral and practical reasons.
But in a recent study I conducted with Robert Livingston and Ella Washington of Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, we found that black women leaders who displayed dominant behavior when interacting with subordinates got more favorable reviews than their white female or black male counterparts who behaved the same way. In fact, black women were evaluated comparably to white male leaders who displayed similarly dominant and assertive behavior.
Existing studies have shown that professional white men have been granted greater status and power when they’ve expressed anger rather than sadness. Our findings suggest that black women may benefit from such expressions, too. In other words, because assertiveness and dominance are stereotypical characteristics for black women, they may not provoke the same backlash as they would for white women and black men.
There is a crisis of representation in the media. We live in a racially and ethnically diverse nation that is 51% female, but the news media itself remains staggeringly limited to a single demographic.
The media is the single most powerful tool at our disposal; it has the power to educate, effect social change, and determine the political policies and elections that shape our lives. Our work in diversifying the media landscape is critical to the health of our culture and democracy.
Consider the Following Statistics
According to the Global Media Monitoring Project 2010, 24% of the people interviewed, heard, seen, or read about in mainstream broadcast and print news were female. Only 13% of stories focused specifically on women and 6% on issues of gender equality or inequality.
The disconnect puts the social-media company at odds with others in the industry that have at least one female director, including LinkedIn Corp. and Google Inc., and from most big public companies in the U.S. Just 11.3 percent of the Fortune 500 had male-only boards last year, according to Catalyst, a New York-based nonprofit that researches women and business issues.
“We’re long past having to defend or explain why women should be on boards, given all the data that shows how companies with female as well as male directors perform better,” said Anne Mulcahy, former chairman and chief executive officer of Xerox Corp. and a director at Johnson & Johnson Co., Target Corp. and Washington Post Co. “It’s unfortunate when companies with a large percentage of women constituents don’t reflect that in their boardrooms.”
As black women watch Michelle Obama on the national stage, they search — sometimes nervously — for nuances often lost on the larger culture. How she handles criticism, how she raises her children, even her style of dress, has the potential to counter negative stereotypes.
In a nationwide survey conducted by The Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation, black women described themselves as relating to Michelle Obama and sensing that she understands them. Nearly eight out of 10 black women say they personally identify with the first lady, and when asked to give a one-word description of Obama, among the words most commonly used were “intelligent,” “strong” and “classy.”
In follow-up interviews, black women say the first lady’s racial and gender identity are essential to the deep connection they feel they have to her. They call her a role model, someone familiar to them — like a sister or aunt.
That emotional stake makes watching Obama navigate the world stage both “thrilling and terrifying,” says Melissa Harris-Perry, a professor of political science at Tulane University who has written aboutthe first lady’s impact on black women.
Imagine a time with equal representation of ALL women on boards, at the CEO position and in the c-suite. There'd be no more talk of "breaking the glass ceiling." There would be no glass ceiling. Nor would there be talk of "being the first." The presence of strong female leaders would be the norm.
In 1965, affirmative action was established. It was amended in 1967 to ensure that women and minorities were provided opportunities to be considered for job placement. In theory, it served as the catalyst for creating opportunities. Unfortunately, not everyone was ready to meet the new employee requirements. As a result, even in the 21st century women are still struggling to find their place and voice in corporate America.
According to The Atlantic, in 2010, women became the majority of the workforce for the first time in U.S. history. For every two men that got a college diploma last year, three women did the same. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that women now hold 51.4% of managerial and professional jobs -- up from 26.1% in 1980. They make up 54% of all accountants and hold about half of all banking and insurance jobs. About a third of America's physicians are now women, as are 45% of associates in law firms -- and both those percentages are rising quickly.
The pink elephant in the living room that isn't being talked about is this: White women have been the biggest beneficiaries of affirmative action. So much so that their presence at mid- to senior-levels dramatically outpace women of color by 4 to 1. In Fortune 500 companies, 2010 numbers show that white women held 12.7% of board seats as compared to women of color holding 3% of the board seats.
After years of progress, the number of female lawmakers in the U.S. slipped in the last election cycle. Leslie Bennetts on a new drive to change that—and why the country will be better off for it.
From the Daily Beast:
“Women are 51 percent of the population, but we have flatlined at 17 percent in Congress, with 17 women in the Senate, six women governors, and 23 percent of state legislators around the country,” says Tracey Hyams, director of Political Parity, a non-partisan coalition of leaders who have joined forces to increase the number of women in office.
In the last election cycle, frustration turned to alarm as women’s representation actually lost ground. “There was a net loss of 81 legislative seats for women,” reports Debbie Walsh, director of the Center for American Women and Politics at the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University. “It was the first time we’ve gone down in 30 years.”
NCRW held an expert panel on February 28, 2011 at American Express with senior leaders from business, government, and academia to explore the case for, barriers to, and action steps needed to expand the number of women in leadership positions. While many overt barriers to women’s advancement have been largely dismantled, and the pipeline to leadership is filled with highly qualified women, the embedded prejudices in our institutions and culture as well as the expectations women have for their professional and personal lives, especially younger women, still pose challenges.
California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones announced the formation of an Insurance Diversity Task Force to consider and make recommendations about diversity in the insurance industry, including the diversity of corporate governing boards and procurement from diverse businesses.
"Insurance is a $125 billion industry in California," said Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. "I am hopeful this task force will help us identify, measure and increase what the insurance industry procures from California's minority- and service-disabled veteran-owned businesses."
According to the Small Business Administration and the Center for Women's Business Research, diverse business enterprises constitute one of the fastest-growing segments in the U.S. economy, with minority-owned businesses generating an estimated $1 trillion in annual revenue. MBEs also employ nearly 6 million workers, while women-owned businesses employ about 19 million people and generate $2.5 trillion in annual sales. Further, with more than 25 million veterans in the country, 1 in 7 small businesses are veteran-owned.
"Expanding small businesses - especially diverse and disabled veteran-owned businesses - will help turn our economy around,'' added Commissioner Jones. "The goal of this task force is to make it easier for the insurer community to contract with these talented enterprises."
Task force members will identify and promote insurance companies that are doing a good job on diversity issues, examine the diversity of insurance company governing boards, identify actions the Department of Insurance can take to encourage insurance companies to utilize diverse suppliers, and make recommendations for changes to the law. Commissioner Jones recently requested voluntary supplier diversity data from the top 200 insurance companies. Assembly Bill 53, authored by Assembly Insurance Committee Chairman Jose Solorio, would require top insurance companies to report their diversity efforts.