6 Replies Latest reply on Jul 28, 2010 10:45 AM by Erin Chang

    Article by Catalyst: “Pipeline’s Broken Promise”

    Samina Azad

      Catalyst published an interesting article (at the web address below):




      The article discusses an unhealthy pipeline where women represent only 3% of the Fortune 500 CEOs and less than 15% of corporate executives at top companies worldwide, although women make up 40% of the global workforce and they are earning advanced professional degrees in record numbers and in some areas surpassing men.


      Catalyst collected data from men and women with MBA degrees that showed:

      -          Men were more likely to start their first post-MBA job in higher positions than women.

      -          Women’s first post-MBA salary was lower than men’s (on average, women are being paid $4,600 less in their first job than men).

      -          After starting from behind, women don’t catch up.


      Women and men job hopped equally but for different reasons

      -          25% women and 16% men said they left because of a difficult manager

      -          38% women and 50% men left for faster advancement


      There is gender gap in career satisfaction

      -          On average 37% of men (at various levels of management) indicated they were very satisfied with their overall advancement, compared with 30% of women.


      The article mentioned: the results of their survey suggest that men and women may still be treated differently by management.


        • Re: Article by Catalyst: “Pipeline’s Broken Promise”
          Robert Pinschmidt

          I recently retired after 31 years in a chemical and engineering company with a ‘strong’ culture (retired from the company, not the labor pool).  A strong culture is a good thing where the basic values are positive: hard working, pretty honest, hire the best and move them along, etc. It is harder when the original culture was not the right one (safety took 15-20 years and a constant CEO/Chairman fixation to fix), or the world changes rapidly around the company: in my lifetime women moved from being mainly just ‘secretaries’, to technicians, and then to Ph.D.s equally as capable as male colleagues. This company has worked hard, consciously, and conscientiously to reset the balance, but is not there yet.  The mix of hires is usually right on target, but the 10 year cohort has usually lost many more women than men, and that despite what we might call reverse discrimination policies to give women a chance to go ‘where no woman has gone before’.


          To me a big culprit IS the culture.  Humans are herd animals, which means they tend to cluster and feel comfortable with their own kind and in their traditional culture.  Any good person or culture tries to address a status quo ripe for an obviously needed change, but when the new is not part of that person’s or that culture’s autonomic system, it is a manual override of entrenched, often amazingly subtle habits and attitudes.  To say that women may just have to wait for the old guard to retire is not an adequate answer, but sometimes it may reflect reality.  Other times not giving up the battle is the right answer.  This company may not yet be where it needs to be, but the changes are indeed significant.


          The world is not a fair place.  I once pointed out to a Brit colleague that a British accent (even lower class) seemed to be worth a grade level at our company.  He quipped that it was worth two grade levels.  It’s a culture thing.  The other choice is to find an organization with a different or less established culture.  Newer or rapidly growing companies often fit that.

          • Re: Article by Catalyst: “Pipeline’s Broken Promise”
            Judith Giordan

            Ah yes, we ARE herd anaimlas and there are CULTURES, but when they are wrong cultures, or broken or inappropriate - especially for maximizing stakeholder and shareholder benefit - they need to be changed.


            Great progress and change never happens - by waiting to see what happens. Great inventions are developed to change and move the status quo ahead - hopefully positively - and with positive benefits. And when data continue to unequivocally show that having women IN BALANCE with MEN at leadership positions always improves the bottom line and yet it is still not happening - says that leadership is NOT taking care of shareholders as they are required to do.


            Women - and any qualified person - in an appropriate position is what the culture should aim for. Women are an easy target and exemplar, but as long as this equity does not happen, then existent large and slow-moving companies will continue to contract and not hire - and the best and the brightest WILL change the culture - WITH THIER FEET. They will go elsewhere, start their own businesses, reinvent their own cultures and CREATE THEIR OWN CLUBS.


            Our planet has no time for anything less than the best we all have to give - ALL - have to give regardless of any false cultural bias. Let's not forget that women owned and founded businesses are the fasting growing sector. That said, we now have to aim for TECHNOLOGY VENTURES led and developed by women - and anyone who believes their is a better cultural paradigm - to take the lead. Then we can have great science and hopefully open and great cultures and economic sustainability - for all.

              • Re: Article by Catalyst: “Pipeline’s Broken Promise”
                Robert Pinschmidt

                Hear, hear.  My message was not to accept the slow progress, but to discuss one view of why it happens (or rather does not happen very fast). No one should have to accept a poor reality, if there are options. We all have to be willing to take on the risks and effort of seeking, or making, those options - or accept the status quo.

                  • Re: Article by Catalyst: “Pipeline’s Broken Promise”
                    Janet Bryant

                    Robert, thanks for participating.  and best wishes on your "first" retirement.  Men "vote with their feet", too.  And it is said that our newest working generation are uneasy, and unrestful, and very mobile....Maybe those of us over 50 are getting the same attitude, or being forced to.


                    anyway.  wanted to thank you for having the courage and conviction to speak up.  Look forward to hearing again from you on this blogspace.


                    janet b, WCC Chair

                      • Re: Article by Catalyst: “Pipeline’s Broken Promise”
                        Robert Pinschmidt


                        Thanks for your kind comments - and encouragement. There seems to me to be a rising tide of anger in our society, obviously both in and out of the workforce. Often that anger is fully justified.  What often is not so clearly justified is where that anger gets directed, and how it gets directed.  I have been known to get very mad at individuals enforcing arbitrary rules, or bad weather, and felt that anger was fully justified.  But was it properly directed, and was it useful?  Certainly not the way I used it.  (I should hasten to add, that I probably have not really learned my lesson in either category, but I keep trying.)


                        Much of the chemical industry strikes me as shell-shocked or broken, adrift and rudderless. When that happens, change becomes ever more important, but, with its real and perceived risks, paradoxically harder to come by. In my limited personal experience, women often do make better managers. Too bad taking chances on the new is too often not seen as prudent.

                  • Re: Article by Catalyst: “Pipeline’s Broken Promise”
                    Erin Chang

                    I am the daughter of a highly independent mother who, as a chemist herself, raised her two chemist daughters in the firm belief that our gender mattered not a bit in the lab.  I've never thought of myself as different from male chemists in any respect, except perhaps the ability to reach high shelves.  By and large, I've been lucky to work for and with people for whom gender is a complete non-issue.  Not everyone is so enlightened, however.  There aren't words to express the level of outrage I felt when an older (but not that old, perhaps in his early 50s) colleague looked at me and my similarly young and female labmate and told us to clean the floor after he'd dropped something on it.  He was clearly of the opinion that the only contribution young female chemists could make in a laboratory was in housekeeping and data entry (but not data analysis, of course).  I've never been so infuriatingly dismissed before or since, and it's made me more conscious of the different ways men and women are treated in a technical workplace.


                    For good or ill, it also engendered a strong sense of needing to "prove myself" as a professional chemist.  While having a fire lit under your chair is great for productivity, this particular sort of fire shouldn't exist anymore, and trying to extinguish it at the source is ultimately futile, I think.  It wouldn't have mattered if I'd produced Nobel-worthy research; my old-fashioned colleague would've found a way to diminish it, or attribute it to one of the men in the lab to make it fit his worldview.  In an ideal world, people are open-minded and fair-minded.  In reality, they're hidebound, stubborn, and suffering from a severe case of inertia.  Sometimes all you can do is wait for them to retire.  Or, as I did, vote with your feet and move to a more progressive workplace.