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.]]>

Four Reasons Why the Bar Is Higher for Women in Authority Roles

I have been curious for a long time about the persistence of double binds, which create challenges for women in leadership that men do not have to deal with. My interest in this question shaped my own research, published in my recent book, New Rules for Women: Revolutionizing the Way Women Work Together. A new article by Carol Hay offers some thoughtful perspectives on the deep cultural roots that keep these double binds in place. In her article, Hay writes from the perspective of a female professor and describes the confusion of both male and female students about what to expect from her as a female authority figure. I believe that everything she describes has widespread application and can also be said for women in authority or leadership roles in most other types of organizations.

  1. The Madonna-whore cultural script limits women. Hay notes that we lack cultural scripts for how to deal with women in authority. Women are locked into limited cultural scripts described by Freud in 1925 as the “Madonna-whore” complex. Freud explained that men can only see women in either the Madonna/mother role, where the expectation is that women will only express compassion or unconditional acceptance, or as sexual objects. I submit that women have also internalized these scripts about women. In addition, Hay cites feminist scholar Patricia Hill Collins, who writes that the cultural scripts for women of color are even worse—“mammies, matriarchs, welfare recipients, or hot mommas.” Hay notes that there is no middle ground for women, thus setting up the double bind dynamic. She states, “My male colleagues don’t have these problems. There’s no shortage of roles they can avail themselves of in trying to reach their students.”
  2. Father knows best: another cultural script creates additional challenges. Hay states that “in our culture, men are the keepers of the intellectual flame . . . and can use their positions of authority to inspire a student. Female professors have no such personae available to them.” This same challenge exists for women leaders in most other types of organizations when women leaders are expected to “dispense hugs” and not wisdom or constructive feedback.
  3. Few cultural scripts exist for women as leaders of women. Both past and current feminist philosophers such as Simone de Beauvoir and John Stuart Mill, and more recently Sandra Bartky, have described the difficulty women have with accepting leadership from other women—a finding also in my own research. Hay notes Bartsky’s description of the phenomena of internalized oppression at play in this dynamic and shares her experience with a current-day example from academia: “surprisingly few female students seek out female mentors.” I think this probably maps to recent studies showing that both women and men prefer working for a male boss.
  4. Women are responsible for the emotional work. There is an unspoken, unwritten expectation that women will do the emotional work in the workplace because, Hay writes, “women are thought to be naturally caring and empathic.” One of my colleagues, a senior HR professional, gave this example: “Male leaders are more likely to ask a woman for help with personnel problems than to ask another man.” This is work that women are expected to do that takes time and is not recognized, rewarded, or expected from men. The bar is higher for women and they are penalized harshly and vilified if they don’t play this role.

The Challenge

“We lack cultural narratives to make sense of women in positions of social power or authority,” explains Hay. “The ones we have haven’t changed much since the days of Freud and de Beauvoir. This failure of cultural imagination affects women’s political, economic, and social prospects. It always has.” We need new role models for women in authority. We need to figure out how to be those role models, while dealing with the old cultural scripts that are still operating about women. What has worked for you? What new models have you seen and admired in women leaders?   Image courtesy of marcolm at]]>

Revealing Root Causes: What Keeps the Glass Ceiling in Place in the Financial Sector?

So many talented women entrepreneurs with great technology business ideas cannot raise the capital needed to start their businesses from Silicon Valley investors. Likewise, many women in Wall Street firms cannot make partner, or otherwise advance, no matter how well they perform. Even with lots of publicity, such as the recent gender discrimination lawsuit against Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, programs put in place to help women advance, diversity programs on unconscious bias, and millions of dollars spent to settle class-action gender discrimination cases, not much has changed on Wall Street for women. What keeps the glass ceiling in place? New research reveals some root causes that could open pathways to change.

Silicon Valley Venture Capital Firms

Let’s be clear. Only 1 percent of the ideas pitched to venture capital firms get funded. The problem is those that get funded are overwhelmingly pitched by white men. Claire Cain Miller of the New York Times notes that of the people who get investment funding to start new businesses, 1 percent are black, 8 percent are women, and 12 percent are Asian, according to data from CB Insights. Here are some of the underlying structural causes of the problem:
  • Men make up 94 percent of partners at venture capital firms, and the business is insular. Miller notes that most investors accept pitches only from entrepreneurs who come through an introduction via their personal networks.
  • Venture firms with female partners are three times more likely to invest in a company with a female chief executive—but a Babson College study found that just 6 percent of partners at venture capital firms are women.
  • Miller cites a 2014 study published by the National Academy of Sciences, which found that investors prefer pitches by men (68 percent), particularly attractive men, to those by women (32 percent), even when the content of the pitch is exactly the same.

Wall Street

Maureen Sherry, reflecting back on her career as a managing director at Bear Stearns, looks at the current statistics for women at Wall Street investment banks and notes that very little has changed, despite hundreds of millions of dollars paid out to settle gender discrimination suits—most recently $46 million paid out by Morgan Stanley and $39 million by Bank of America. She cites a 2015 Bloomberg Businessweek survey that tracked MBA graduates from 2007–2009, which found the following:
  • While women received almost the same pay upon graduating, six to eight years later their pay averaged 20 percent less than the pay of their male classmates.
  • Female graduates of Columbia Business School, who went to work primarily for Wall Street financial institutions, earned 40 percent less than their male colleagues.
Sherry reveals a very interesting root cause for the Wall Street glass ceiling:
  • New employees are required to sign a U4 arbitration agreement “that binds a worker to settle any job dispute with her employer in-house,” usually with arbitrators chosen because they are friendly to the bank. Not surprisingly, roughly two out of three cases are decided in Wall Street’s favor.
  • When settlements are awarded, the employee must sign a nondisclosure agreement, and the stories and patterns of discrimination remain hidden from the public.


Maureen Sherry states unequivocally that mandatory arbitration needs to be banned so that action, in the form of laws, regulations, and public pressure, can be taken to change the culture of Wall Street. As long as the stories and patterns stay hidden, and the deep-pocketed banks barely notice the settlement payouts, there is no incentive to change. As for venture capital firms, we must keep the spotlight on their insular and discriminatory practices and assert public pressure for them to be more inclusive. Bringing these root causes into the open will help us all know what to look for and how to bring pressure for change.   Image courtesy of Ambro at]]>

How Unmarried Women Are Driving Positive Change in the United States

recent article in New York magazine, Rebecca Traister reports this important change: “in 2009, for the first time in American history, single women outnumbered married women. Today, only around 20 percent of Americans ages 18–29 are wed, compared to nearly 60 percent in 1960.” Traister points out that this change represents a radical upheaval that cuts across classes and races. It was made possible by the social movements that came earlier— abolition, suffrage, the labor fights of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and the civil rights, women’s, and LGBT rights movements of the mid-twentieth century—but is not, itself, an intentionally politicized or conscious movement. It is just that as a result of these earlier movements, women have internalized the assumption that it is acceptable, and the best choice for them, not to be married: that they are whole people able to live satisfying lives on their own or in community if they don’t happen to meet someone they want to legally bind themselves to. Nonetheless, this shift is driving profound change in politics and in the political agendas of our legislative and presidential contests. Consider the potential impact of this statistic for the 2016 elections by Page Gardner, as cited by Traister: “For the first time in history, a majority of women voters are projected to be unmarried.” Traister points out that this means single women, at both the high and low ends of the earning spectrum and across race, have a set of common needs not yet met by government. These needs require a major revamping of the civic institutions that still operate on the assumption that women are financially dependent on men, and that men are the breadwinners and women are the unpaid, or low wage, family caregivers. For example, think about school letting out in the middle of the afternoon—what is the assumption about who is available to pick up the children? These assumptions were never true for most African American women, and now a majority of all women have shared interests and the potential political clout in the voting booth to drive a new social contract for women that includes the following:

  • Stronger equal pay protections
  • A higher federally mandated minimum wage
  • A national health-care system that covers reproductive intervention
  • More affordable housing for single people
  • Criminal justice reforms
  • Government subsidized day care programs
  • Federally mandated paid family leave for both women and men
  • Universal paid-sick-day compensation
  • Increases in welfare benefits
  • Reduced college costs
  • Quality early-education programs
We are at a moment in history when we have the potential to unify to make change. In order to realize this possibility, though, we must each do our part by registering to vote and voting for candidates who support these policy changes. What changes are you seeing in families and for women that reflect this new reality of single women outnumbering married women?   Image courtesy of photostock at]]>

How to Close the Gender Wage Gap

The gender wage gap is persistent. Claire Cain Miller of the New York Times reminds us that fifty years after President John F. Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act, women still earn only 79 cents for every dollar men earn in the United States, and the gap in different occupations varies. Miller notes that women who are surgeons earn 71 percent of what male surgeons earn. I have written in a previous article about differences in pay for different racial/ethnic groups, with recent research showing that Hispanic women in Massachusetts make 56 percent of their male counterparts’ salaries. In her article, Miller offers ideas that are starting to generate interest and be tested by a few state governments and private employers for closing the gender wage gap. I believe these ideas are promising:

  1. Publish everyone’s pay. Miller notes that “when employers publish people’s salaries, the pay gap shrinks.” President Obama required federal contractors to report salaries by gender in 2014, and the state of California passed a law to require municipal governments to publish salaries. A few pioneering companies have done the same with very positive results. Salaries got corrected and/or aligned.
  2. Coach, or curb, negotiation. Miller notes that “men are paid more partly because they’re more likely to ask for it. When receiving job offers, 51.5 percent of men and 12.5 percent of women ask for more money.” Miller is basing her information on the work of Professor Linda Babcock who also notes that women are penalized, deemed unlikeable, and often not hired for negotiating like men. Consequently, women need coaching on how to negotiate differently to be effective. Best of all, Miller suggests, would be to ban negotiation all together and set the salaries for positions, with a small range to allow for differences in experience.
  3. Don’t rely on previous salaries. Women get stuck in a lower-wage cycle when pay for a new job relies on an employee’s previous salary. The Massachusetts State Legislature is currently considering a bill that prohibits employers from seeking job candidates’ salary histories. More states should pass legislation like this.
  4. Make it easier for mothers to stay in the workforce. Affordable childcare, paid sick days, and paid parental leave need to readily available so that women can more easily stick with their careers.
  5. Build flexible work places. Miller notes that the pay gap is greatest in occupations with the least flexibility, such as medicine and finance.
  6. Change the law. Federal legislation languishing in the US Congress called the Paycheck Fairness Act would require companies to report salary data, give grants for negotiation training and make class-action lawsuits easier—but it has been stalled for a long time. It does not yet have enough support to move it forward.
The gender wage gap can be eliminated. We know how to do it, but we need to put more pressure on organizations and our government to do the right thing. Do you know of companies or state governments that are pioneering efforts to eliminate the wage gap? Let us hear your examples of what’s working. Image courtesy of Ambro at]]>

Voting for Hillary: Why Is There a Generational Divide among Women?

I have been watching the 2016 presidential campaign unfold with great interest. As a feminist, I care about whether candidates have progressive positions and a demonstrated track record of improving the lives of women and girls of all races, ages and, nationalities. Hillary Clinton seems to me to have the best record of demonstrated commitment to these issues, so I have been curious about what appears to be a generational divide among Democratic women: in the New Hampshire primary, women under thirty voted for Bernie Sanders four to one. What are the reasons for this divide? Here are my hunches and the perspectives of a few other authors.

This Is a Mother/Daughter Generational Grudge Match

Susan Faludi writes that the generational grudge match between older and younger women has been present in every era since women won the right to vote in 1920. This makes sense to me when I remember my own judgmental rejection of my mother’s life choices as a younger woman. Faludi lays out examples of this dynamic in the 1920s and in second-wave feminism, as noted by the feminist poet Adrienne Rich, who wrote about matrophobia among second-wavers. Third-wave feminists declared, “we’re not our uptight mothers” in defining their feminism, and some third-wavers declared that they could not vote for Hillary Clinton in 2008 “because she reminds me of my mother.” This dynamic is troubling if it creates blinders about issues important for improving the lives of women.

Young Women Feel They Live in a Post-Feminist World

I know that there are many young feminist activists, yet Sheryl Gay Stolberg reports that many millennial women, ages eighteen to twenty-nine, feel that gender is no longer important. Many (not all) take for granted the gains made for women by older generations, and their concerns are different—for example, student debt, jobs, LGBT rights, and flexible gender identities. Where they might find a transgender candidate exciting, they don’t see the big deal about a woman becoming president.

Years in the Workplace Change Your Perspective

Jill Filipovic writes that the explanation for the generational divide among women who support Hillary Clinton may come more from our different life experiences. She notes, “more time in a sexist world, and particularly in the workplace, radicalizes women.” It can take about ten years in the workplace before the realities of gender discrimination become clear. These realities are not yet part of the world of millennials. Their current world is one in which:
  • In university environments, there are more female than male students.
  • In high school, girls tend to outperform boys academically.
  • Title IX regulates roughly equal treatment of women and men in school athletics.
  • Women attend graduate school in roughly equal or greater numbers than men.
  • College-educated women see only a tiny pay gap when they are first hired.
But by age thirty-five, these same women are making significantly less than their male peers. And once they have children, women are treated as incompetent, have a harder time getting hired, and are paid significantly less than men. It takes time for these experiences to accumulate, and millennial women haven’t had enough time in the workforce yet to get radicalized.

We Hold Women Leaders to Different and Tougher Standards

I have written in previous articles about our discomfort with strong women and about the different expectations we have of female leaders. We expect male leaders to be assertive and decisive, but we are uncomfortable if women behave that way. Gail Sheehy describes the ambivalence that many baby boomer women feel about voting for Hillary. Sheehy quotes a female political leader as saying, “A lot of women vote from a compassionate, nurturing place, and those are not qualities you feel from [Hillary Clinton].” Really? Think about it. Don’t we need our commander in chief to be tough, assertive, and decisive? Let’s hope we can stay focused on who will be the best leader for the whole country, and who will best meet the needs of women and girls of all ages, races, and nationalities. It’s so important.   “Hillary Clinton” by Llima Orosa is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0  ]]>

Unfinished Business: Women Men Work Family by Anne-Marie Slaughter: A Book Review

In her book, Unfinished Business: Women Men Work Family, Anne-Marie Slaughter takes us a step further down the road to understanding why progress continues to be slow for gender equality in the workplace and what needs to change. While three years ago Sheryl Sandberg’s book, Lean In, triggered an important national conversation about the challenges women face in the workplace, it was criticized for focusing too narrowly on solutions for privileged women and too little on the different needs of working-class women. Sandberg’s book was also criticized for putting too much of the responsibility on individual women for not “leaning in” enough to progress in their careers. Slaughter takes this conversation to the next level and argues that we must take the blame off of individual women and broaden the conversation to include the issues faced by women at all income levels and in all occupations, as well as acknowledge the restrictions placed on men’s life choices by existing gender stereotypes and workplace and societal structures and policies. Slaughter suggests that we need to change our lens to talk about competition versus care or breadwinning versus caregiving, instead of talking about work-life balance. When we use this lens and this language, we begin to shift the focus from work-life balance being a middle-class women’s issue to a focus that is more inclusive and that leads to broader strategies for change. In fact, Slaughter notes that the problem is not only that there are not enough women at the top of organizations, it is also that there are too many women at the bottom—62 percent of minimum wage jobs are held by women—and some common threads cause the problem at both ends of the income ladder. Slaughter argues that the real problem is that competition, the human drive to pursue our self-interest, is valued over care, the human drive to put others first. Women and men are motivated by both competition and care. The problem is that competition, or “breadwinning,” has been defined as more valuable and as the domain of men. The domain of caregiving has been defined as women’s; discrimination against and devaluing of caregiving provides a common thread linking the experiences of women at the top and at the bottom. Here are some examples of the link provided by Slaughter:

  • A young female lawyer or banker who begins to work flexible hours to be home with her kids for dinner, or who works part time, or who steps out of the workforce for a while to be a full-time caregiver is quickly disqualified from advancing in her career. Joan Williams describes this as hitting the maternal wall. Neither her advancement nor her earning capacity will ever recover.
  • A single mother who has no choice but to be both the sole breadwinner and family caregiver is likely to be in a low-wage job with no sick leave or childcare benefits. Half of single mothers in the United States make less than $25,000 a year, and being a single mother is the single best predictor that a woman will end up in bankruptcy or poverty in old age.
  • In our society, caregivers are among the lowest-paid American workers. Low-income African American and immigrant women are heavily overrepresented in the most poorly paid care jobs.
Slaughter suggests that the solution is not to devalue competition, but to elevate the value of care in some of the following ways:
  • We need to raise the pay and benefits of care jobs to reflect a valuing of caregiving work.
  • We need to let go of old gender stereotypes and expand our language to include same-sex parents and gender identities beyond male and female.
  • We need to expand our language to talk about working parents or working caregivers rather than working mothers.
  • We need family-friendly policies, like flextime, that are more than lip service and that do not penalize the caregivers, women and men, who need and want to use them;
  • We need careers redefined to reflect the demand to customize jobs to meet the requirements of workers in different life phases without penalty.
  • Our government needs to invest in an infrastructure of care that includes subsidized high-quality and affordable childcare and elder care, paid family leave, and other supports for caregiving.
While Slaughter does not provide many specifics about how to enact the many big changes that are needed, this book is worth reading to understand more about the next steps on this journey of change that we are all on.]]>

Diversity Improves Performance: New Research Findings

Exciting new research reported in the New York Times from Columbia University and the University of Texas provides much needed evidence that racial and ethnic diversity on teams improves performance. While I have always felt the truth of this finding from my own experiences, it is good to see empirical evidence that supports the practice of inclusion. This new research, added to other studies showing that gender diversity also improves performance, should encourage more intentional inclusion of race and gender diversity on teams and in classrooms. The new study on racial and ethnic diversity was conducted in both the United States and in Singapore. Participants were assigned to either homogeneous or diverse groups to make decisions on the sales value of stocks. To ensure that any differences in outcomes were the results of diversity and not culture or history, diverse groups in the United States included whites, Latinos, and African-Americans. In Singapore, the diverse groups were Chinese, Indian, and Malay. The authors report that the findings were “striking.” The decisions of the diverse groups were 58 percent more accurate, and the more time they spent interacting in diverse groups, the more their performance improved. In contrast, the homogeneous groups in both the United States and in Asia were more likely to copy others and spread mistakes. The authors suggest that the homogeneous groups seemed to “put undue trust in others’ answers, mindlessly imitating them. In diverse groups, across ethnicities and locales. . . . diversity brought cognitive friction that enhanced deliberation.” In other words, the presence of diversity produced better outcomes due to the following:

  1. Better and deeper critical thinking. The presence of cognitive friction might mean that people work harder to examine their own assumptions and deepen their reflections in the presence of conflicting opinions and information.
  2. More engagement with different perspectives. Different perspectives bring new ideas, and working harder to understand a different perspective can bring about a change in position.
  3. Better error detection. Deeper critical thought and engagement provide more opportunity for errors to be revealed.
  4. Less groupthink. Individuals are more likely to form their own opinions in diverse teams than to just follow along with those like them.
Studies on gender diversity in teams, reported in an earlier article, found that gender-balanced offices produced 41 percent more revenue than single-sex offices. The factors that might account for higher performance in gender-balanced teams are probably similar to those accounting for higher performance in racially diverse teams:
  1. More voice for everyone. When there are roughly equal numbers of women and men on a team, it is more likely that both women and men will be able to get their ideas heard and be able to influence the culture of the team.
  2. More perspectives. A diversity of perspectives is bound to result in better decisions and solutions and help avoid groupthink.
  3. More skills. A broader range of skills and experience is available in diverse teams which could contribute to better results.
Given these findings, shouldn’t all work teams, leadership teams, and classrooms strive to be intentionally diverse? We can all benefit from diversity.     Image courtesy of Ambro at]]>

Why We Need Women’s Leadership Programs: The Pipeline Is Clogged

Women have entered the professional and managerial ranks of organizations in large numbers since the 1970s and have entered at about the same rate as men for the last twenty-five years in Western industrialized countries. Nonetheless, women remain poorly represented at the senior levels of organizations and constitute only 3 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs and about 15 percent of company board seats in the United States. The numbers are worse for women of color, who represent only three of the 500 CEOs. The situation for women in Europe is no better. It seems fair to conclude that earlier approaches—preparing women to be leaders by teaching basic leadership skills, “fixing” their behaviors to be more like those of men, and then waiting for them to work their way through the pipeline—have not produced the desired result of having more women in senior leadership positions in the West. Research reported in 2009 by DDI (Development Dimensions International), involving 12,208 global leaders in seventy-six countries and 1500 organizations, found that women have not progressed as far as men of similar tenure and age in all major global regions. The study’s authors note that even in the United States, more than 70 percent of the top 1500 US firms have no women on the senior leadership team. The authors conclude that the deck is stacked against women from the start of their careers because women do not have equal access to development experiences. Other scholars at Harvard suggest that it is important for women to learn to use a broader and more theoretical lens to understand why development opportunities are not as available to women, as well as why other barriers to women’s advancement exist. In other words, potential women leaders need to understand that systemic forces are at work to create these barriers in order to change them. It is not enough to learn new tools and skills without learning to use them within a systemic context. These scholars suggest that subtle forms of gender bias, which they call second generation bias, create internal and external barriers for women’s advancement to senior levels. Second generation bias is defined as practices and beliefs that equate leadership with behaviors believed to be more common or appropriate for men, which communicates to both women and men that women are ill-suited for leadership roles. This bias interferes with a woman’s ability to see herself or be seen by others as a leader. For this reason, the authors propose that women’s leadership development needs to be grounded in a coherent, theoretically based, and actionable framework, incorporating both theories of gender and leadership. In other words, leadership skills and topics need to be taught within an analysis of second generation bias as a framework that helps point the way to actions. A review of the best practices literature on women’s leadership development programs reveals a consensus on the importance of women-only programs that foster learning by putting women in a majority experience. The literature reports agreement that women are best able to develop strong and authentic leadership identities in all-woman settings. While many of the topics and skills that women leaders need to develop are the same as those found in leadership development programs for men, it should be noted that to support the development of effective women leaders, these topics need to be taught within the context of understanding the special challenges that women leaders face. For example, women cannot use exactly the same negotiation strategies that men use because recent studies show that women are not seen as “likable” when they do, and therefore are not as successful when using the same approaches. Consequently, women need to develop negotiation strategies that work for them in the context of second generation bias or other ways of theoretically framing the impact of gender differences. An effective women’s leadership development program needs to reflect current research and best practices for leadership effectiveness in the twenty-first century and address the unique issues and advances affecting women in leadership. Many organizations now offer women’s leadership programs internally, and some good public programs also exist. Two of my favorite public programs are the Women’s Leadership Community in Minnesota and the POWER of Self Women’s Leadership Program in Texas. Let’s continue to support the offering of these programs. They’re important.   Image courtesy of stockimages at]]>