Women Lead the Way by Linda Tarr-Whelan
Posted by Allison Fine on October 1, 2009
My friend and co-fellow at Demos, Linda Tarr-Whelan has just published her first book, Women Lead the Way. I thoroughly enjoyed it and recommend it. On September 16th, I helped to facilitate a conference call with women bloggers and other interested folks to talk about the key findings and what we bloggy women can do to move the issue of the need for more women leaders forward. Here is the transcript of the call, and here is a video of Linda talking about her book.
Basically, in a nutshell, here’s the bottom line: when women make up 30% of the leadership of an institution, or organization, or sector, or board, things change. Those institutions or sectors begin to be infused with the thinking and priorities of women leaders. And amazingly, after all of this time, in the face of the data about women equaling men in terms of their education and degrees, the data on the number of women leaders is dismal. I mean really, really dismal!!
If you asked a woman on the street that percentage of women who are CEOs of the largest nonprofits, members of Congress or women film directors the answers they would give would be wildly off base. The answers, by the way, for the conversations you’re just about to have with lots of other folks are: CEOs of largest Nonprofits according to the Chronicle is 20%, members of Congress 16% (up from 14% fifteen years ago), and women directors are somewhere between 7-10%.
A few takeaways from the call and the book to ponder:
1. I think it’s a mistake continuing to try to beat our head against the door of the mainstream media on this issue. They’re not interested, we’re not making progress there, forget it/them. We should focus on creating our own hubs for conversation about this online.
2. We need to create some bite size pieces to make progress now. For instance, on the call Mary Hodder mentioned the dearth of women speakers at tech conferences. We should make a collective effort to insist that women are equally represented on panels and as keynoters at conferences.
3. We need to talk about this issue more. Encouraging organizations to hire more women in leadership positions, insisting that corporate and nonprofit boards have equal representation of women (again a far lower percentage than one would guess) has to be consistently. And we need to talk about what is about organizational life that makes is to unacceptable for women who can’t and won’t sacrifice their lives working within constructs that negatively affect their other roles as moms and wives and sisters and friends. MomsRising is doing an amazing job facilitating this conversation from a public policy standpoint. We need more, real, authentic conversations about the role of women in our society.
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