Sarah Elisabeth Odidika attends Young Women's Leadership Academy in Fort Worth. She offered her observations on the panel discussion at the Forum August meeting.
The panel at the Women's Policy Forum luncheon in August was very diverse in occupation and experience. All of the women knew how to work in a male-driven environment. A topic that struck a cord with me was when the panelists stated that they had all experienced gender bias at meetings, on conference calls, etc. We hear all the time about companies needing more women in executive jobs and leadership roles. It does not make sense to me for men who are in companies that need more women and know they need more women in executive positions to allow such disrespect.
Another topic that interested me was hearing the speakers discuss Lean In and how the book about women in business didn't teach them as many lessons as they expected it to teach. The book did show them that you have to have confidence in yourself and your abilities.
One speaker who owns her own business stated something that is important for both men and women to hear. A Fortune 500 study in the 1980s found 9 percent of the companies on the list had women in executive positions, but in 2013 that percentage was up to 17 percent. Not much growth at all. Just imagine how long it will take to reach 50 percent?.
One take away was that mothers who raised women 50 years ago are NOT the same mothers who are raising women now. Finally something that could help me improve were suggestions on how to move up the corporate ladder. Women must have key relationships. The speaker from BNSF stated that there are three types of relationships; mentor, sponsor, champion. Each persons helps at different stages of work life. Having input from people like this helps women become better leaders and builds confidence.
--Sarah Elisabeth Odidika, Young Women's Leadership Academy mentee. Her mentor is Cindy
Johnson, Women's Policy Forum Member.