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Future of Women by mirit35


									                                               he guidance counselor at her
                                            high school told Deborah
                                         Rosado Shaw that she should settle
                                     for a community college. In fact, the
                                 counselor was so adamant, she refused to
                             send off any transcripts to four-year colleges.
                        So Shaw trooped down to the board of education
                   office herself to get those transcripts out. A native of
               Spanish Harlem, Shaw wasn’t going to let anybody else’s
          attitude get in her way.
       Her persistence paid off. Shaw got into Wellesley College and ended
up transferring to Barnard College, the independent college for women
in New York City affiliated with Columbia University. A few years later,
still a course shy of graduating, she was running her own company. Now
Shaw heads Umbrellas Plus, a multimillion-dollar manufacturer of
outdoor furniture and fashion accessories that supplies Wal-Mart, Costco
and Toys-R-Us. She founded Dream Big Enterprises, a company that
trains entrepreneurs, and was recently named Businesswoman of the
Year by the National Hispanic Business Group. “Every win along the
way just became that much more delicious,” she said in October. “It
revealed so much more of life that I needed to continue to go down that
      Shaw told her story as part of a panel discussion, The Future of
Women in Business, held at Barnard in October, as part of the Barnard
Summit: Women, Leadership and the Future, hosted by Barnard President
Judith Shapiro, that drew more than 1,000 people to the College’s campus
on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. She ascribes her success to her luck,
her pluck and her ability to seize control of her environment and make it
work for her. For as much as women in this country are the envy of their
counterparts the world over, they are still quite clearly operating in a
man’s world.
      So Shaw and the four other members of the panel advised up-and-
coming businesswomen not to settle for an environment if it wasn’t
working for them. That means that if you run into an old boys network,
create an old girls network in return. Seek out companies that will let
you thrive and leave companies that won’t. Look for sympathetic
superiors to show you the unwritten rules of the workplace. And, in
those cases when you can’t fit life into the corporate mold, follow the
millions of other women who have set up shop on their own.
                                                          “Five experts on women and business urged an audience of students and
                                                         businesswomen at the Barnard Summit: Women, Leadership and the Future to
                                                         seek out mentors, take risks, not tolerate discriminatory behavior, and help other
                                                         women who are starting out. The panelists at The Future of Women in Business
                                                         discussion were, from left to right: Ellen Galinsky, president and cofounder of
                                                         Families and Work Institute; V. Sue Molina, partner and national director for the
                                                         retention and advancement of women at Deloitte & Touche; Francene S. Rodgers,
                                                         chief executive officer of WFD Inc.; Deborah Rosado Shaw, founder and chief
Judith Shapiro, president of Barnard College, the        executive officer of Umbrellas Plus; and Janet Tiebout Hanson, president and
independent college for women in New York City           CEO of Milestone Capital Management and founder of 85 Broads. Barnard College
affiliated with Columbia University. Shapiro told The    President Judith Shapiro hosted the summit; both Rodgers and Shaw are Barnard
Future of Women in Business audience, “The number        graduates.”(Photo by Elissa Matsueda, Barnard College.)
of Barnard graduates going on to careers in business
and finance is growing and Barnard’s location in New
York City gives the College a special role in the
business world, which is so central to the economy            Yet, it is possible to be a mother and an executive, and to be good at both.
of this City.” The College counts entrepreneur Martha    “At a recent gathering in Prague of women executives from some of the country’s
Stewart among its graduates who have gone on to          largest companies, a survey showed that 74 percent had children, and 69 percent
excel in business.                                       had children under 13,” said Ellen Galinsky, president of the nonprofit Families
                                                         and Work Institute based in New York City. A large proportion of them were the
You Go, Girl                                             top earner in the household, according to her survey.
      The first step, though, starts with oneself.            According to Galinsky, research does not show that children of working
“Society may accept working moms. But moms who           mothers turn out any differently than children of stay-at-home moms. “A job is
want the corner office are another matter,” said         only detrimental,” she said, “if the mother returns home so burnt out that she
Francene S. Rodgers, the CEO of the Boston-area          cannot pay attention to her children. Instead, mothers need to make sure they are
consulting firm WFD. “It is hard for ambitious           focusing on their kids when they do see them.”
women not to feel guilty about it,” Rodgers says,              “When I talked to kids about what they would most remember about this
“but there’s nothing wrong with wanting it all.”         time in their lives, most said the small rituals and traditions that said they were a
      “Most of the time when people see women who        family,” continued Galinsky. “What’s really important is that you care about your
are successful in business, they tell us to slow down.   kids, that you listen to them, and that you do fun things, rituals and traditions.”
There’s no countervailing person to tell us, maybe            That much said businesswomen might need to take time off work to tend to
even today, ‘You go, girl,’” Rodgers said. “A lot of     their children more often than men. “But companies are realizing that they need
our internal conversations are about coming to terms     to give employees more power to set their own schedules. They need to know
with wanting to be successful and wanting to have a      how important it is to leave at the end of the day to watch your son or daughter
full life.”
      Ellen Galinsky, president of the nonprofit Families                 V. Sue Molina, partner and national director of the
      and Work Institute based in New York City                           retention and advancement of women program at
                                                                          Deloitte & Touche.

     Janet Tiebout Hanson, founder of 85 Broads, an                      Deborah Rosado Shaw, heads Umbrellas Plus, a
     organization named after the address for the                        multimillion-dollar manufacturer of outdoor furniture
     investment banks New York headquarters.                             and fashion accessories that supplies Wal-Mart,
                                                                         Costco and Toys-R-Us.

play soccer and return to work and stay until 9 at night,” said V. Old Girls Club
Sue Molina, partner and national director of the retention and         There is still old-fashioned discrimination in the workplace,
advancement of women program at Deloitte & Touche. “It’s a huge but employers have good reason to become a place where women
motivator and will retain people when they think they have that want to work. “And if it isn’t, the woman should take action or
control over their work life.”                                     leave,” Rodgers said. “It is the job of everybody who works not to

Winter 2001                                     Women In Business & Industry                                                       48
be a victim and to speak up in cases where they feel unwelcome or
disrespected,” she said. And that starts before you even walk in the
door, when job candidates are researching a prospective employer.
“If we don’t ask questions, if we don’t make sure we choose a
place where we will thrive,” Rodgers said -”then shame on us.”
     Recent graduates just entering the workforce may not notice
any bias at all. “The type of male clubbiness that keeps women
out of the loop and off the promotion ladder becomes more apparent
the higher up in an organization one goes,” according to Rodgers.
“When I ask this of men, they often say, ‘Old boys network?’ I’m
not in one,’ because they do not experience it as such. They do not
believe they are leaving women out. The woman is just not in the
room when the big decisions are getting made and they [men] just
don’t notice.”
     The lack of female superiors who can act as mentors
perpetuates the problem. “From my personal experience one of
the things I was naive about was who my stakeholders were and
who I should align myself with in order to be successful,” said
Molina, the Deloitte & Touche consultant. “You need someone
ahead of you who is going to be your champion, someone telling
you what you need to do, what those unwritten rules are in making
sure you’ll get promoted.”
     Janet Tiebout Hanson’s response to the lack of a network was
to build her own. Several years ago, the former Goldman Sachs &
Co. manager founded 85 Broads, an organization named after the
address for the investment banks New York headquarters. Using
the Internet, Hanson’s organization links 1,300 present and former
women Goldman employees and provides mentors to aspiring
      “We desperately need to hear from women one to five years
out ahead of us and to get feedback from the field before we make
mistakes that are going to cost us our careers,” says Hanson, whose
11-year career at Goldman made her the firm’s first female sales
manager. “One of the things that crushes me is to see young
women’s careers derailed in their 20s.”
The Virtue of Necessity
     Sometimes, corporate life is not worth the trade-offs, and notably
three out of the five panelists at Barnard have started their own
enterprises and become their own bosses. Hanson, who founded
Milestone Capital Management in 1994, an asset management
business, discovered that her former male colleagues were actually
nicer to her when she was no longer vying for the same promotions
as they were. The number of women leaving corporate life to start
their own companies is leading to looser workplace schedules.
     “Sixteen hundred women leave corporate America every day
to become entrepreneurs, and companies are extremely concerned
about this,” Shaw said. “The No. 1 reason why women leave is
because they want more control over their time.”
     But the panelists also said women’s trajectories in the workplace
are not all uphill. The very scarcity of CEOs like Shaw among
wholesalers–a woman, Latina and a mother–makes her stand out in
a world of men.
      “I’m probably in one of the most testosterone driven businesses
there is. Often I’m in a room with 600 men and only 12 to 13 women.
That’s actually a competitive advantage for me and it’s also a lot of
fun,” Shaw said. “Often I’m invited to the table because they want
to see who is the bearded lady. Who is this person anyways?”

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