|Image via Wikipedia|
I could add a few more adjectives to the list – deflated, overpowered, and worried. For years I have been watching and waiting for strong women to break through the line – and many have. There is no question that there more women are taking on leadership roles than they did when I joined Corporate America more than thirty years ago (and all of the managers in my area were male). There is no question that more women are working their way up to middle management and senior management roles. There is no question that there are more women in the room (and it’s no longer normal to be the only woman in the room).
And yes, there were some big wins for women leaders in 2011, including IBM’s Ginni Rometty, the first female leader of the tech giant, and HP’s Meg Whitman, her second CEO role.
So why, then, am I concerned?
Just like women at all stages of their careers have done over and over again for decades, 2011 saw strong women dropping out of the game. For some the decision was their own, including Avon’s Andrea Jung, yet others, including Yahoo’s Carol Bartz, were reportedly forced out. Meredith Viera left the Today Show saying she wanted to spend more time with her family – an echo we hear far more frequently from women than their male colleagues.
Nearly thirty years ago when I was seeking my first management appointment, I interviewed with a woman – the only female second line manager I had visibility to at that time, and one of very few across the company. She shared with me that she felt – as a woman – that she had a responsibility to go as far as she could in the company, to pave the way for all of the women who will come after her.
It is certainly progress that women in business today can step back and make the decision that feels right for them. Yet, without the women at the top layers continuing to charge forward, will future generations be stalled? What do you think?