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The End of Men: Female IT execs at the workplace

Hanna Rosin | Oct. 8, 2012
Female tech leaders solving the family conundrum

The logic is, it’s hard to leave for work in the morning when your toddler is clinging to your leg, so what’s at the other side of that had better be pretty compelling or you’ll just give up.

Moving beyond career plateaus

Sallie Krawcheck, a former Bank of America and Citigroup executive, has seen plenty of Wall Street women succumb to the temptation to jump ship. They make it through their first career plateau, where they don’t get promoted or don’t like a boss, then a few years later they hit a second one.

“The men continue to make it through, but I’ve seen numerous women who at that point say, ‘I’m out. It’s not worth it. I have two beautiful children at home, and it’s socially acceptable to be home. It’s more fun at home.’” But, she adds, “If we can get women past their second career plateau, you’ll find more making their way to the top – because it does get a lot easier when the kids are in school. It’s a lot easier for me, with kids who are 12 and 14, than when they were four and six.”

A recent McKinsey survey on women and the economy uncovered an admirable and also frustrating trait common to women. Much more than men, women tend to derive their satisfaction and moral identity from aspects of work – and life – that are unrelated to promotion. Women stay at jobs rather than move up to new ones because they might “derive a deep sense of meaning professionally”, the report concluded.

They don’t necessarily want to “trade that joy for what they fear will be the energy-draining meetings and corporate politics” that come with a bigger title.

I asked Sandberg about this. What if it’s innate that women are allergic to a certain kind of ambition? “I think it might be innate and I still don’t care,” she said. “We need to get over it. We might be biologically programmed to get obese, but we don’t give in to that.”

Sandberg has been accused of blaming women for not advancing more quickly, of being blind to the realities of the average working woman (she stands to gain $US1.6bn in the Facebook stock market launch).

But this is a narrow reading of the situation. If Sandberg is watching over Facebook’s maternity leave policy, the receptionist has as much to gain from that as Sandberg does. If women want the future to contain fewer energy-draining meetings and a more family-friendly workplace, we need more women to make it to Sandberg’s level.

 

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