Will the real women CEOs please stand up?

December 18th, 2006

Paging all She-E-OsThe New York Times ran a long piece in its business section yesterday called “How Suite It Isn’t: A Dearth of Female Bosses.” Among the reasons given for less women at the helm of U.S. Fortune 500s: Being herded into dead-end staff positions in departments “like HR and communications” rather than groomed for operating roles. Having a hard time penetrating “the thick layer of men” crowding U.S. boardrooms and corner offices. Not wanting to sacrifice their home life for an extreme job that requires living at the office.

The article interviewed a number of generous women CEOs who were more than willing to share their experiences, like Carol Bartz, who was one of the first female CEOs and recently stepped down from her role as head honcho of Autodesk. I especially like how Bartz said that in her career, she’d found networking more helpful than any formal mentoring programs. Since a good mentor relationship is hard to find (and no one really knows what one is anyway) but networking opportunities abound everywhere you look, I have to agree.

Curiously the Times piece mentions that spokespeople for nearly all the female CEOs contacted claimed their bosses were “too busy” to do an interview or that they didn’t want to participate in a piece on women CEOs because they wanted to be recognized for their achievements, not their ovaries. Perhaps reporter Julie Creswell didn’t give her sources enough time to respond, though I think that’s being generous to the CEOs in question. Considering so many women at the top had no role models to speak of, you’d think more of them would want to tell aspiring female execs what unique challenges and triumphs await them.

So if you want to hear what it’s really like at the top, trot on over to this SmartMoney article profiling eleven fearless women who bought or started their own company and have since become wildly successful. Yeah, you’ll get more touchy-feelie cheerleading in this piece, but if you want to run your own show, you’re going to need all the pep talks you can get.

Entry Filed under: Glass ceiling,She's the boss

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Hi, my name's Michelle Goodman and I've been freelancing since 1992. I'm author of My So-Called Freelance Life and The Anti 9-to-5 Guide. Read my full bio here.

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