California Passes New Legislation to Put More Women on Boards: Why This Matters

Patrick McGreevy of the Los Angeles Times writes that in August 2018, the California legislature passed a bill, approved on a 23–9 vote, requiring firms based in the state to include women on their boards. This bill mandates publicly held corporations in California to have at least one woman by 2019. By 2021, at least two women will be required for boards with five or fewer directors, while at least three will be required for boards of six or more. The coauthors of this bill, state senator Hannah-Beth Jackson and senate leader Toni Atkins, explained that because only 15 percent of the directors of public corporations in California are women, while women make up 52 percent of the state’s population, women’s interests are not adequately represented on boards. In an earlier post, I wrote about the benefits of diversifying boards:

  • Boards set long-term direction and policies, including those that create family-friendly workplaces.
  • Boards are in charge of hiring and firing CEOs. Research shows that people tend to hire others like them. With few women and minorities on boards, talented women and minorities may be overlooked for CEO roles, keeping the glass ceiling in place.
  • Companies with more diverse boards pay higher dividends and enjoy more stable stock prices.
McGreevy notes that Senators Jackson and Atkins agree that having more women on boards will benefit the economy. The senators also stated, “We are not going to ask anymore. We are tired of being nice. We are tired of being polite. We are going to require this [change].” Vanessa Fuhrmans and Alejandro Lazo of the Wall Street Journal explain that “the U.S. has no federal requirement for female representation on company boards and no other U.S. state has successfully pushed such a mandate.” In contrast, the Guardian reports that the European Union has proposed that boards increase female directors to as high as 40 percent, following similar mandates in several other European countries. This follows a trend in the EU, where the number of women on the boards of the largest companies more than doubled between 2005 and 2015. Once again, California leads the way for the United States. Change doesn’t happen without pressure and legislation. Those with a vested interest in maintaining the status quo will do so—unless they have no choice. Electing women to public office will keep moving us forward. What other legislative goals might improve representation for women in the corporate workplace?   Photo courtesy of]]>

Women Are Calmer under Pressure: New Research

New research by Alex Krumer of the University of St. Gallen, as reported in the Harvard Business Review, finds that women respond better to pressure in competitive sports than men do. Krumer and his colleagues analyzed more than 8,200 games from high-stakes Grand Slam tennis matches. They chose to include only the first matches of Grand Slams to control for the fatigue factor. They also chose Grand Slam tennis matches because performance was easy to measure, the monetary incentives and ranking points were the largest out of all the tournaments, and men and women received the same prize money. Krumer and his colleagues found that the men’s performance in unbroken serves deteriorated more than the women’s when the game was at a critical juncture, such as a 4-4 tie. Krumer said, “Among women, we saw barely any difference between pre- and post-tie performance.” While the researchers acknowledge that applying this information to the labor market is difficult, they also speculate that biological differences between men and women identified by other researchers are consistent with their results. These are just two examples:

  • The literature on cortisol, the stress hormone, shows that levels of it increase more rapidly in men than in women, which can hurt performance.
  • Testosterone, a proven performance enhancer, increases after a victory and decreases after a defeat in men but not in women. Spikes in testosterone can lead to overconfidence and higher risk taking.
In previous articles, I reported on studies that show similarities and differences in factors affecting decision making between women and men. The differences in risk-taking behavior show that overconfidence is a major obstacle in making smart decisions. The tennis researchers note that while they cannot demonstrate a direct relationship between performance in Grand Slam tennis matches and competence in the business world, other research shows significant differences, probably at least partially biologically based, in how women and men handle pressure. The researchers suggest that we consider the variety of roles in which we want leaders who can stay calm under pressure, such as CEOs and political leaders with control of nuclear weapons. Krumer suggests that “if you’re talking about mental toughness, maybe in certain circumstances it’s women who have the edge,” yet we have a dearth of women in CEO (4 percent of Fortune 500 chief executives) and political leadership roles. Clearly, that needs to change. What steps are you taking to make a difference?   Image courtesy of businessforward (CC BY 2.0)]]>

Why Work Is Good for Women

I have always had a fierce drive for financial independence. When I was a girl child in the 1950s and 1960s, I remember reflecting on my mother’s traditional suburban life as a homemaker and being horrified by her lack of independence. Although she was living a life that met society’s expectations, she often told me stories about dreams she had abandoned to be a wife and mother. I also knew that while she and my father had rough patches in their marriage from time to time, leaving him was not an option for her. She had only a middle-school education and limited work experience. She had no financial independence. She was stuck. I vowed not to be like her. Her options were limited, and, while more types of jobs are available to women today than in her time, some of our society’s assumptions and expectations about women and work have not changed. Jill Filipovic of the New York Times writes about the ambivalence still present in the United States about women and work. She notes that while work is still acknowledged as important to men’s sense of self-worth and identity as providers, “historically women weren’t supposed to need their individual identity to be formed through work . . . women’s identities have long been relational—daughter, wife, mother—rather than individual.” In fact, this difference seems to have been a strong driver in the 2016 presidential election as white working-class women and men voted for Trump, who promised to bring back the blue-collar jobs that provided self-worth for white working-class men and paid wages that reinforced their identity as providers. Even though women surged into the workforce between 1950 and 2000 and the number of hours worked by both black and white women more than doubled, Americans still remain ambivalent about women working today. Filipovic notes that there is no robust feminist argument in favor of women working outside the home. I remember when early second-wave feminists did try to make this argument in the 1970s and 1980s, and the backlash was so swift and fierce that they had to back down. Remember when Hillary Clinton had to bake cookies in the 1990s when her husband ran for president to prove that she was an acceptable woman even though she had a successful law career? Filipovic writes, “That feminists are so often unable or unwilling to make a vigorous moral argument in favor of women working . . . is perhaps one reason we have not yet seen the political groundswell necessary to pass the workplace policies we so desperately need.” Research shows, however, that it is good for everyone when women work:

  • Women are better off when we work outside of the home: our mental and physical health are better and our levels of happiness are higher.
  • Daughters of working mothers tend to be higher achievers.
  • Men raised by working mothers do more housework and child care as adults.
  • Men who have working wives tend to be more supportive of, and give more promotions to, female coworkers.
  • Women who are financially independent are less likely to get stuck in abusive or unhappy relationships.
Unfortunately, public opinion remains stuck. Filipovic reports that “just over half of Americans believe children are better off with a mother who is at home full time and does not hold a job. Only 8 percent say the same thing about fathers.” Our ambivalence about women working and achieving successful careers runs deep. A recent study reported in the Boston Globe found that “after the hiring of a female or minority CEO, white male executives identified less with the company and felt less valued by it, than when a white male CEO was hired.” No wonder we have not been able to elect a female president or pass legislation that supports women working outside of the home. We seem to have a long way to go, baby! Photo courtesy of Jo Guildl. CC by 2.0]]>

Single Millennial Women Feel Pressure to Downplay Ambition

I am surprised by the findings of a recent study showing that single millennial women who are MBA candidates in an elite program feel they must downplay their professional ambitions when in public in order to attract a marriageable male mate. I realize I should not be surprised, given the support for traditional heterosexual relationships reported by voters for Donald Trump in the recent presidential election. Joan C. Williams, writing for the Harvard Business Review, describes the strong feelings about traditional gender roles that still exist in large segments of our society. She explains, “Trump promises a world free of political correctness and a return to an earlier era, when men were men and women knew their place.” With these attitudes still deeply embedded in our society, it is no wonder that many young women feel they have to minimize their goals in public settings. An article by Valentina Zarya in Fortune reports findings from a study by the National Bureau of Economic Research. These findings show significantly different responses for single millennial women when compared to the responses of female peers in long-term relationships and to both single and partnered male peers. When they believe men are watching, single women:

  • Are noticeably less assertive and speak up less in meetings
  • Minimize their goals and lower their desired annual salary expectations from $131,000 to $113,000
  • Lower their willingness to travel from fourteen to seven days per month
  • Lower their ambition for leadership roles in the future
While the study only analyzed and reported data based on gender and relationship status, it seems likely that there are racial differences for single women that are not reflected in this report. Yes, we have come a long way, but it seems we still have a long way to go. Society still teaches that it is not acceptable to be ambitious and assertive as a woman. While I’m sure that many women will say they are not impacted by these traditional attitudes, many women are still getting the message that they must tamp down their ambitions if they want to be acceptable to men. What role models and societal influences have shaped you?   Photo courtesy of COD Newsroom. CC by 2.0]]>

Being Equal Doesn’t Mean Being the Same: Why Behaving Like a Girl Can Change Your Life and Grow Your Business by Joanna L Krotz: A Book Review

I recommend this book on entrepreneurship for women by Joanna Krotz to any woman thinking of starting a business. Why is entrepreneurship an important topic for women? Krotz explains that because women still don’t have pay parity and are subject to what Kolb and Porter describe as “second-generation bias,” they are leaving male-run organizations to launch and grow their own businesses in record numbers. For example, women leave technology companies at a rate of 52 percent, twice the rate of men. Krotz notes that in 2015, there were 10 million women-owned businesses (WOBs) in the United States, which generated $1.6 trillion in sales and employed 9 million people. Women of color owned one-third of these WOBs. Krotz describes many unique characteristics and strengths that women bring to running a business that are especially relevant to today’s world, and she offers specific female-friendly tools to help leverage those strengths.

Some Historical Context

I found the historical context offered by Krotz very interesting. She notes that there have been many successful female entrepreneurs in the United States, such as Madame C.J. Walker, who have been overlooked and under recognized. She tells the inspiring stories of several of these early role models. In addition, she explains that the source of our current gender wage gap is federal labor policies established during World War II, when women were encouraged to take up the manufacturing jobs vacated by men drafted by the military to fight in the war, which sanctioned paying women less than men for doing the same work. While these policies were not intended to create a permanent justification for paying women less, this is another example of “second-generation bias” where the negative impact on women’s earnings continues to this day.

Some Differences Women Owners Bring to the Table

Krotz identifies some important trends and strengths for women business owners:
  • Women owners may be satisfied with smaller enterprises to meet income and professional needs and maintain desired work/life balance.
  • Women may define success differently. Krotz notes, “Size is a male obsession and a less-relevant measure for women’s success. Fulfillment may be harder to measure, but it’s far more appropriate for women-owned businesses,” which often seek to accomplish a combination of profit, social impact, culture, and employee-satisfaction goals.
  • Women are more collaborative and more patient than men in the start-up phase of a business.
Of particular interest is a SWOT business model analysis created by Krotz to showcase the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of today’s women entrepreneurs. Krotz lays out her analysis and then offers tips and strategies for leveraging the strengths and addressing areas of weakness, opportunity, and threats. Here are some examples of strengths and weaknesses in the analysis: Strengths of women entrepreneurs
  • Can quickly connect with prospects and stakeholders
  • Strategically assess perilous risks
  • Identify early market opportunities
  • Respect staff and instill loyalty
  • Capably organize and manage
Weaknesses of women entrepreneurs
  • Undersell their accomplishments to potential investors
  • Avoid reasonable debt needed for growth
  • Undervalue the ROI of building networks
  • Resist delegating: prey to the Superwoman syndrome
  • Set product prices too low
This book draws upon research from the Babson College Center for Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership and the Center for Gender in Organizations at the Simmons School of Management in Boston, along with a range of other research from brain mapping to leadership competencies, to examine gender differences for entrepreneurs. Overall, it provides excellent context for why women are choosing to become entrepreneurs, validates our strengths, and gives practical tools and strategies for becoming successful business owners. I particularly appreciate the author’s suggestions for rewriting the rules of success for women entrepreneurs, along with a frank and honest assessment of ways we undermine our success. The information about different avenues for raising investment funding in addition to a variety of online resources for entrepreneurs makes this a must-own resource book for current and potential women entrepreneurs.]]>

More Women Are Leaders in Family Businesses Globally: A Magic Formula for Creating Gender Parity

I grew up in a family business started by my grandparents and continued by my father, his six siblings, and their spouses. The business was a chain of clothing stores in small towns in the Midwest. While each sibling owned their own store or two, a number were jointly owned by all the family members, and these were run by my father as the corporate CEO. I began working in the business, as did most of my siblings and cousins, around the age of eight. Because I was the oldest of my three siblings and showed interest and business acumen, I understood from an early age that I was being groomed to take over for my father some day to run both our individual store and the jointly owned businesses. I was exposed to and mentored in every aspect of the business, and the fact that I was female never came up as an issue with anyone in the extended family. It was a great disappointment to all when I discovered during college that my path in life lay elsewhere and I declared that I would not be joining the business after college—but that is a story for another day. It was with both pride and recognition that I read about recent research, conducted in 2014 by Ernst & Young (EY) and Kennesaw State University, which found significantly higher rates of women in senior leadership roles in family businesses globally. When I thought about my own experience, this finding made sense, and the implications suggested by the authors seem exciting and important. Why are these findings important? This research gathered data from 525 of the world’s largest family businesses. The responses are from twenty-five of the largest family businesses in each of twenty-one countries with global markets. The authors note that family businesses are not insignificant players in the global marketplace. In fact, they are anchors of the world economy, and as a whole they create 70–90 percent of the global GDP and 50–80 percent of jobs in the majority of countries worldwide. The research found that the 525 participating family businesses average about five women in the C suite, 55 percent have at least one woman on their board, and 70 percent are considering a woman for their next CEO. These statistics are considerably higher than overall global business statistics, even though a great deal of research exists that shows having women in leadership roles makes economic sense for businesses:

  • Companies with more women in leadership increase focus on corporate governance, corporate responsibility, talent dynamics, and market acuity.
  • Publicly listed companies with women on the board tend to outperform those without in key metrics such as share price, return on equity, net income growth, and price-to-book value.
  • A gender-balanced board is also associated with better corporate social performance in community, customers, environment, and supply chain. These activities improve business outcomes in areas such as risk management, corporate and brand reputation, and recruitment and retention.
The authors suggest that “family business may offer a path forward for all businesses seeking to achieve gender parity.”

A Magic Formula for Creating Gender Parity

The study authors summarize the family business formula for success for bringing women into leadership roles as the following: Role Models + Long-Term Thinking + Inclusive Environment = Women in Leadership
  • Role models: Women are inspired to be leaders when they see women in positions of power. When I was growing up, I was surrounded by capable women business leaders who were my mother, aunts, and cousins. Consequently, I never doubted that I could be a leader in our business if I wanted to.
  • Long-term versus short-term thinking: Family businesses are focused on long-term sustainability because they are focused on the business as a legacy to be preserved for future generations. Other types of business entities tend to be focused on delivering short-term results to respond to investor expectations. Also, the average tenure of a family business CEO is twenty years compared to six years for the CEO of a public company.
  • Inclusive environment: Family businesses are built on relationships and on balancing a focus on both family and the business. The relationship focus includes activities that keep both family members and employees more cohesive and engaged with each other and the business. The authors also note that “diversity in leadership, including gender diversity, is positively correlated to employee engagement and satisfaction—factors that drive retention and increase cohesion.”
In other words, family businesses have shown that having more women in leadership is good for business, and they have found a formula for how to make that happen!   Image courtesy of Ambro at]]>

Myths about Women’s Careers: New Research – Part II

recent Harvard Business Review study of 25,000 Harvard Business School graduates, spanning three generations (baby boomers, generation Xers, and millennials) sheds light on some myths and gaps in expectations about women’s careers that persist across generations. Because this study focuses on Harvard Business School graduates, who are a highly educated and ambitious group of women and men, I think the findings are particularly eye-opening for the rest of us in that they provide a window into how entrenched attitudes about gender roles are in our society. These entrenched attitudes affect our careers as women, as well as our overall satisfaction with our lives. The big question for many of us is, “Haven’t things changed for millennials?” Some of the following findings from this study can help answer this and other questions about gender gaps in our careers. The researchers found the following about expectations for career priority for men upon graduation from Harvard Business School’s MBA program:

  • More than half of the boomer and generation X men expected that their careers would take priority over their spouse’s or partner’s (this attitude was slightly less prevalent for men of color).
  • 50 percent of millennial men expected their careers to take priority, which is only slightly less than previous generations.
  • 39 percent of white men and 48 percent of men of color anticipated their spouse’s career would be equally important.
The career priority expectations for women upon graduation from Harvard Business School’s MBA program were different:
  • The vast majority of women across racial groups and generations anticipated that their careers would rank equally with their partner’s.
  • 75 percent of millennial women expected their careers would rank equally with their partner’s.
  • 26 percent of millennial women expected their partner’s career would take priority. Notice the big gap in expectations between millennial women (26 percent) and millennial men (50 percent).
  • Only 7 percent of generation X women and 3 percent of boomer women thought their careers would take priority over their partner’s.
The study’s authors also looked at the reality for career priority after a number of years in the workforce and found that 75 percent of generation X and boomer men reported that their careers had, in fact, taken precedence (this was less true for black women and men). This is much higher than either women or men expected upon graduation. Men in the study shared the following expectations for family responsibility upon graduation:
  • 75 percent of generation X and boomer men expected their partners would be the primary child-care provider (somewhat lower for black men).
  • 66 percent of millennial men have this expectation.
  • 33 percent of millennial men expect to do an equal share of childcare, compared to 22 percent of generation X men and 16% of boomer men.
Again, women’s expectations upon graduation for sharing family responsibility differed:
  • 50 percent of generation X and boomer women expected to have primary responsibility for childcare.
  • 42 percent of millennial women expect to do so, which is only slightly less than previous generations.

Impact of Findings on Career Satisfaction

This study showed that all women were more likely to have egalitarian expectations for both career priority and for child-care responsibility than were the men, and the generation X and boomer women reported disappointment about how their careers ended up taking lower priority. The authors of the study reported that “traditional partnerships were linked to higher career satisfaction for men, whereas women who ended up in such arrangements were less satisfied, regardless of their original expectations.” While the expectations for equality of millennials show a slight improvement, this group is too early in their careers to know yet if their reality will be different. Remember the story of my client, June, in part I of this series published last week? As long as our deeply entrenched attitudes about gender roles (that women’s careers are less important and that childcare is the primary responsibility of women) remain unchallenged, they will play out in both organizations and families as barriers for women’s careers, and change will continue to be very, very slow. The gap between women’s expectations and their actual experiences will continue to be large. It’s no wonder that there are so few women in senior leadership roles—but let’s not blame women. Entrenched attitudes present both internal and external barriers to women realizing their potential.  Let’s work together, women and men, to challenge existing attitudes and practices both at home and at work. What do you think about the findings from this study? What changes would you like to see in the ways women and men balance career and family responsibilities?]]>

Myths about Women’s Careers: New Research – Part I

research reported in the Harvard Business Review dispels several commonly held myths about the lack of equity in advancement for women and why so few women are in senior management. Here are three of the myths:

Myth #1: Women fail to achieve equality because they take themselves off the career track to have children.

Myth #2: Women value careers less than men.

Myth #3: Having children makes employees less reliable, less driven, and less creative.

In their study of 25,000 MBAs over three generations (baby boomers, generation Xers, and millennials) of graduates from the Harvard Business School, the authors found the following:
  • Only 11 percent of generation X and boomer women with children under eighteen were out of the workforce full time to care for children. The figure is 7 percent for women of color.
  • Both women and men expressed the same amount of ambition upon graduation from the MBA program across the three generations.
  • Both women and men in senior management teams were likely to have made career decisions to accommodate family responsibilities, and they were still able to perform at a level sufficient to achieve senior management positions.
So, why do men achieve more success in their careers? As Lisa Miller of New York Magazine put it, “Most women work full-time through their child-rearing years, and yet they achieve less than men at work because, well, they’re women.” In other words, both workplace cultures and societal attitudes—not the choices women make—are responsible for women achieving less. The following story demonstrates how workplace and societal attitudes may be impacting women’s careers: I have a coaching client, June, who has been driven to be a senior leader since she was a small child. She always earned good grades, completed two advanced professional degrees, and worked hard. Although she worked for two major corporations, she was not able to get the challenging assignments or promotions that she desired and felt ready to accomplish. She was frustrated and unhappy at work. When her son was born, he provided an excuse to step out of the corporate world, which did not seem to value her. She and her husband agreed that she would stay home full time with their son, although that had never been her plan. She explained that she would never have left her full-time position if she felt that challenging opportunities were available to her. She still longed for meaningful work, but the part-time opportunities available to her were neither interesting nor demanding, and she was growing more unhappy by the day. June’s story reflects the impact of the three myths about women and work. While June did value having a career, she may not have been considered for challenging assignments or advancement because she was of childbearing age, and she was assumed to be less committed to a career. None of this was actually true for June, and her company unnecessarily lost a bright and talented worker. What can organizations do to keep talented women and men? Here are five tips:
  1. Discard the myth that women don’t value careers; provide opportunities for their advancement and development, even when they are in their childbearing years.
  2. Provide a way back into full-time work for women and men who use family leave time or flex time when starting a family.
  3. Provide meaningful and challenging part-time work opportunities for both women and men who want to cut back for awhile when they start a family, but who do not intend to step off their career path.
  4. Stop punishing (by judging harshly) women and men for wanting to share family responsibilities and temporarily requesting flex-time and part-time work.
  5. Support couples in being equal partners and sharing family responsibilities.
But wait! There’s more! Read about more interesting findings from this myth-breaking research next week in Part II.]]>

Working Women in China: A Sticky Floor and a Glass Ceiling

New Rules for Women: Revolutionizing the Way Women Work Together, and found they faced some very familiar challenges, as well as some unique ones created by their cultural context. They face similar challenges both in their relationships with one another in the workplace and in systemic problems, such as a very wide gender pay gap and very low representation in both middle and senior leadership roles. The Chinese women in my research reported negative dynamics in their relationships with other women in the workplace that were similar to those described by the rest of my research participants. For example, they reported feeling unsupported by senior women, who were often harder on junior women than on men and did not try to mentor or help younger women advance. As I explain in my book, these dynamics reflect internalized negative stereotypes about women and demonstrate the structural impact of women being less valued than men in societal and organizational cultures. Evidence that Chinese culture still places higher value on men can be found in a recent New York Times article in which the authors, Didi Kirsten Tatlow and Michael Forsythe, described the resurgence of long-repressed traditional values in China. The authors noted, “More and more men and women say a woman’s place is in the home, wealthy men take mistresses in a contemporary reprise of the concubine system, and pressure for women to marry young is intense.” And we’ve all read about the preference for male children that, in the context of the one-child policy, has resulted in female babies being killed or abandoned. These are the signs of a patriarchal society. Tatlow and Forsythe, along with Yang Yao of China Daily, offer these statistics showing the impact of this resurgence of traditional values on women in the Chinese work force:

  • Chinese women are losing ground in the work force compared with men and make up just 25.1 percent of people with positions of “responsibility.” This describes senior management roles, as well as supervisory and middle management positions. Women in China refer to this lack of opportunity at lower levels as the “sticky floor.”
  • Fewer than one in ten board members of China’s top three hundred publicly traded (CSI 300) companies are women.
  • Thirty of the thirty-one state-owned companies listed on the CSI 300 have no women in senior leadership. The Chinese government could mandate that women be represented in senior management in these state-owned companies, but they do not.
  • No woman has ever served in the Politburo Standing Committee, the highest level of Chinese government.
  • The gender pay gap has grown significantly in the last two decades: in 1990 it was 77.5 percent, and in 2010 it was 67.3 percent for working women in urban areas. It was 56 percent for rural women in 2010.
While there is clearly a glass ceiling in China, the women I interviewed complained that they must first get past the sticky floor before a glass ceiling is even a problem to tackle. Attitudes about women belonging in the home mean that they have difficulty being considered for most positions or promotions, and men are clearly preferred. The labor laws are vague and unenforceable and do not define gender discrimination. Companies are even free to state “no women need apply” when advertising open positions. The Chinese women in my research also described intense pressure, even from other women colleagues, to marry young and have a child quickly because of the one-child policy, a dynamic unique to China. These women described a fear of being shunned by their women colleagues if they did not have a child. On a positive note, Yao reported that, inspired by Facebook’s chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg’s book, Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead, groups of women in Beijing are starting to meet to organize networking events and seminars to help women advance and grow.  Women in China are finding a collective voice, which is how change will begin in the right direction.]]>

The Confidence Myth : A Book Review

The Confidence Myth: Why Women Undervalue Their Skills and How to Get Over It, author Helene Lerner acknowledges both the external prejudices and the internal factors that create challenges for women, many of which I have discussed in previous articles. Lerner also debunks some long-held myths about confidence that are important for us to consider: Myth #1: Being confident means you are fearless. Lerner points out that, actually, most people who are successful sometimes feel fear, nervousness, or doubt. In fact, feeling nervous can keep us sharp and alert so that we are poised to do our best at important moments. Myth #2: Being confident means being self-sufficient and not needing help or support. Once again, not true. We all need people to be thought partners, coaches, and cheerleaders who encourage us to take risks and go for what we want. Myth #3: A confident person is calm and certain. Lerner points out that “confidence is taking action while having conflicting thoughts and sensations,” which doesn’t always mean being comfortable. Myth #4: Leadership presence is something you are born with. Not so, says Lerner. Leadership presence involves skills that we can learn. These skills include being authentic, demonstrating poise during stressful times, listening well, dressing appropriately, and using power language to assert yourself (especially true for women). Myth #5: If I don’t do it, no one else will. Lerner notes that learning to say no, setting limits with people, and identifying and prioritizing our own needs are essential to our own success. As women, we are often so focused on the needs of others that we don’t even know what our own needs are. Lerner suggests that we make time for simple pleasures that replenish us; get rid of time bandits like guilt, people pleasing, and perfectionism; and learn to say no. Myth #6: Being a “nice” person means not bragging and not talking about my abilities. We need to be able to toot our own horns and advocate for ourselves. How will others know what we are good at—or how confident we can be—unless we tell them? Myth #7: Women have to be twice as good, or perfectionists, to get ahead. Even in the face of prejudices and negative stereotypes about women, Lerner argues that we need to give up perfectionism. Being perfect is not attainable and striving for that standard is not sustainable. It’s better in the long run to take risks, reach high, and grow from mistakes—and learn to use a standard of “good enough” to keep from getting paralyzed by perfectionism. Myth #8: Good leaders always make rational decisions. Nonsense, once again. Lerner points out that “research shows a positive correlation between intuition and business success.” Learning to listen to and trust our intuition, or inner voice, is not some feminine magical notion. In fact, both male and female leaders talk about the importance of making rapid decisions that draw upon their experience. Lerner states that we can even reframe intuition as “the rapid processing of everything we already know, everything we’ve learned and experienced.” However you explain it, we each have an inner voice we can learn to trust and that can be an important source of information. Lerner’s book is packed with useful information, real-life stories, and exercises to develop important skills for creating the perception of confidence. I highly recommend this book.]]>