It was another promise of the new economy: We’d finally move from the old rules of the old boys’ network to a workplace based on merit. Just how well has that promise been kept? Find out what two successful women have to say. Edited
President and CEO; CNBC; New York, New York/Fort Lee, New Jersey
I’m optimistic about where women are in business today. We’re not in an environment anymore where a role model is just one person — or one kind of person. And although we still don’t have enough diversity, at least lots of different women, who showcase lots of different management styles, are successful these days.
Young women today should feel inspired by the fact that in a relatively short period of time, things have changed. Things are a lot easier for us than they were even just 10 years ago. And they will continue to change, as long as we keep pushing.
In the first act of the new economy, a lot of transitions took place. It’s actually the female leaders in the broadly defined technology space who have demonstrated most clearly the advances in what women can do. The old media, however, is still a pretty tough go: There just aren’t many senior women in broadcasting, cable, or film.
I’m concerned that as we hunker down in this current downturn, people will once again say, “I don’t know if I want to take a risk on a woman in this role — on someone who doesn’t look like I do.”
Managing director, executive office; Goldman Sachs; New York, New York
In the early years, what I found challenging was that there weren’t a lot of senior-women role models in the business to define success. I almost quit my job many times. There were days when I was unable to sleep or eat, and I'd cry in the ladies’ room. It’s important for me to tell women that even though I cried, I made it. For many years, I felt that crying was a weakness. It isn’t. It releases stress, it cleanses, and it shows that you take things seriously. Women need examples of other women who succeed despite be-ing a little “different.” Different works, and strong organizations embrace differences.
Today, we have more women role models, though clearly still not enough. I worry that too many women remain trapped in the past. They are still willing to accept not being treated fairly at home or at work. Some still think, Hey, if my butt’s not getting pinched, I should be happy. I say, Know your power. And make sure that you have a good set of power tools: talent, enthusiasm, confidence, and your own bank account. Then, when you get promoted up the ladder, keep pushing.