When Sandra Day O'Connor graduated near the top of her class at Stanford University's law school in 1952, she received only one job offer: to be a legal secretary. Today, Justice O'Connor says, "Women bring a lot to the table and I think are effective as employees, as managers and CEOs, when they are given the chance.…And I just think we need to find a better path for women because they have had a hard time."
Women are now graduating from college and graduate school in greater numbers than men and entering the work force in equal numbers. But at each stage of advancement, men are at least twice as likely as women to move forward. Only 11 chief executives of Fortune 500 companies are women, down from 15 in 2010, according to Catalyst Inc., a nonprofit women's research group.
"Middle-management women get promoted on performance. Many middle-management men get promoted on potential. Performance vs. potential," said Vikram Malhotra, chairman of the Americas for McKinsey & Co., which conducted research commissioned by the Wall Street Journal. "Qualified women actually enter the work force in sufficient numbers, but they begin to plateau or drop off…when they are eligible for their very first management positions. And it only gets worse after that."
"The more hours of television a girl watches, the fewer options she believes she has in life. And the more hours a boy watches, the more sexist his views become." Geena Davis
We need to focus on women in their 30s, get them to "hang on by their fingernails" if they are tempted to step back, said Sallie L. Krawcheck, president of global wealth and investment management at Bank of America Corp.
Straight Talk: Each organization must encourage honest and open internal dialogue about the challenges and opportunities facing midcareer women.
Mentors and Sponsors: Develop more industry-wide and company-specific programs for both mentorship and sponsorship.
Leadership Wisdom Portal: Create a nationwide and worldwide portal for insights and advice on leadership for women, pooling the resources of multiple companies.
Promote Women on Potential: Women should be equally considered for promotion on their potential as are men. Companies need to identify talented women early and nurture them.
Media: The media need to work harder to dispel stereotypes about women in business. Too much attention is given to stories of the fall of women and too little to their comeback.
Importance of Self-Promotion: Women need to get comfortable with self-advocacy.
P&L Leadership: Companies should establish a program to train and encourage women to take leadership positions that involve profit-and-loss expertise specifically, and enable them to transition into these roles.
Establish Your Personal Brand: Build a vision for females, using branding and glamour to attract them to the field. Build up role models, make them more prominent. Clone Marissa Mayer and Sheryl Sandberg.
Source: The Wall Street Journal, April 11, 2011