Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Girl Stuff

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??


Anonymous said...

Hey Tinydancer,

This is the reader who "outed" you at Wharton's Admit Weekend. ;-) I continue to read your blog and have been looking for a reason to post a comment, and this post is gave me just the reason.

As a female in business, I share your POV regarding women at the top. Being in CPG marketing, there is a better balance than you likely experience in consulting, but I look to the executive committee at my company and there is not one female on it! Of course, I think our generation will change that, especially as we lean on our innate interpersonal skills and female bonds vs. an earlier generation of women that had no choice but to put on game faces and compete with one another.

I completely agree with your take on both Pink and the two shows (although I myself have preferred Cashmere Mafia). I love how CM and LJ depict successful women, and that some of them are even in happy gives me hope! These shows' portrayals of the realities and challenges of career-oriented women feels spot-on to me. (I loved the CM pilot where the men sitting around the table asked the female COO to get them coffee...)

HappyBunny said...

Hello. thanks for the recommendations on the magazine and the TV shows. I would totally check them out. I think our generation is lucky to have so many women already fight their way through into the business world. Yet, there are many battles waiting to be fought. I do think society starts to recognize woman's special talents in business world more and more. Girl Power :P

Frankie and Sammy said...


You could probably do a funny post and discuss which TV shows your readers think men in business learn the most from. Here are some suggestions: LOST, Without a Trace, Soprano's, 6 Feet Under...

Your 1st poster was right about our generation - and the men who don't realize that the new generation of women in the workplace will make serious changes will get trampled. Just look at the % of college graduates today that are women.

tinydancer said...

Hi anonymous! Thanks so much for commenting :) I agree with you too - things are getting better and better out there for women. It's up to us to take advantage of the opportunities and help each other along the way.

Are you on Facebook? If you are, search for me!

Samantha said...

When a woman is promoted to a position of power, I always just think good for her and assume that I'll get to a similar place when I'm her age. Like the woman today who was chosen to run the Harvard endowment. Every day it seems like there's another exciting achievement. Feel confident about yourself!

I'm in pharma too and it's nice to see that my company actually does have a lot of women in senior management -- In strategy/commercial development/R&D too, not just HR. Not a female CEO to be found at the biggest healthcare companies (except for Wellpoint), but there are several at smaller companies and we'll get there.

I too see our generation as the one that will change things. We're flooding into the workplace and have been equals with our male peers for our entire lives.

Anonymous said...

I'll have to check that magazine out and I like watching Lipstick Jungle as well. Motivating to see powerful women business owners!