Sorry guys, this post pertains mostly to the ladies.
Being a woman in business is hard. We are surrounded by men in most cases (I am the only woman on my team, and I am the lowest pay grade too). And usually when we actually see a woman promoted to a position of considerable power, I don't know about all of you but I catch myself thinking "well I'm not as confident/powerful/smart/capable/whatever as her so I can't do what she did." Meanwhile, I have always been confident in my intelligence and ability to lead, so why do I always have these thoughts? My only explanation is that maybe women are so outnumbered in my field that I struggle to find people that I can relate to that have succeeded so that I can picture myself in that position. I think that's where I need to make the internal connection: by being able to confidently picture myself achieving success, I will set myself up to take the actions I need to take to reach it.
Lately I have found two things that are helping me make those connections. The first is a magazine called Pink. Its tag line is "A Beautiful Career, a Beautiful Life." I think anything directed at women these days discusses the work/life balance that we all try to achieve, and this magazine certainly addresses it. But it also focuses a lot on career issues, particularly issues that affect executives, like how to avoid the "glass cliff" (i.e. being set up for failure by becoming CEO during a rough time for a company), how to entertain clients, how to manage employees, etc. Every issue has profiles of women that own or run companies. It really doesn't focus much on women just starting out in their careers, but women that are already in management or higher, which is what I really like. It helps me create that vision for my future. They also have a lot of articles that focus on entrepreneurs, something I hope to be some day. It sounds silly, but just seeing examples of other women that have been able to do it helps me change my mindset and say, "yes, I can do that too." I highly recommend this magazine to all female MBA hopefuls.
Another thing I've gotten into lately is the new pair of TV shows highlighting women in business. Alex Fleming recently recommended Cashmere Mafia on his Wharton diary*, so I decided to check it out. I also started recording Lipstick Jungle, which is a similar premise (I think I like Lipstick better-it's better written and executed, but both shows are good). Both shows surround a group of girlfriends that also happen to be successful and powerful in business. They are billed as next generation Sex in the City shows, but I think they provide something more, because the plot points go into issues that any woman that has aspirations to be an executive knows she may face: men that try to undermine her, managers that seem to overlook her achievements, struggles with balancing family life, husbands that experience jealousy or resentment for her success and the time she commits to work, feelings of guilt over the same, etc. Of course it's all super-dramatic and unrealistic in the way it plays out. It is TV after all! But it's good to have a pop culture reference point for the issues which have never really been focused on before. Lipstick Jungle just had their season finale and Cashmere Mafia hasn't come back from the writer's strike and appears to have been canceled (BOO!). But you can watch all the episodes of both shows on their websites - click on the links at the top of the paragraph.
Not to worry, I will now return to gender-neutral posts ;)
*Which I was going to link to but now I can't even find the diaries. Are they discontinued??