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Monthly Archives: March 2013

What a question. We live in a world where only a very small percentage of women sit at the top. The C-suite. Government officials. Board seats. Across every industry, we have only a meager presence. After reading Sheryl Sandberg’s book, Lean In, I’ve come to believe it’s because we’re afraid. Afraid that we’re not good enough, afraid that a man can do it better. Afraid that we won’t get married because we’re too career focused, or too “intense.” Afraid that if we do get to the top, we won’t have anyone to share it with. As a gender, we are afraid.

When I was a little girl, I started a card shop, printing template cards off of Print Shop Deluxe and selling them to my family friends and neighbors. It cost my dad a small fortune and the cards were ridiculous, but I had my customers. I decided I should sell them in China, so I went to the backyard and started digging. I was told if I dug deep enough, I would get there. I think my parents just wanted to keep me off the computer, but I was envisioning the BRIC economy before it became one. The point is, I’ve had big dreams for as long as I can remember. And more importantly, I was fearless.

I’m not here to write a book review, or even summarize the key points because I truly believe that all men and women should read this book. But I do want to talk about the big question it posed. These words, so simple, so plainly stated, written across the walls of the Facebook office, words that have kept me up a night since I finished the book, “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”

It’s interesting and sometimes challenging to be a younger woman in the corporate world. From the moment you walk into a room, you have to overcome judgment and preconceived notions. Yes, I get nervous, but am I afraid? I get uncomfortable with success and public recognition. Maybe this means I’m afraid too.

I don’t associate the word “afraid” with my personality. I will get on an airplane and go anywhere in the world by myself. I will not say no to an opportunity, even when it’s beyond my comfort level and outside of my experience. I don’t take no for an answer. But after reading this book, I see that maybe I have been afraid and I just didn’t know it. Perhaps my fear has been unconscious. The important thing is the question. Ask it. Ask it all the time. “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?” Write it across your notebooks, or make it the backdrop of your phone if you need to. This book has allowed me to understand that where I fall short, is related to fear. If Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, asks herself this question, then so should I.  And so should every other woman. The sooner we come to terms with our own fears and how it affects our behavior, the sooner we can tip the scales.

There are a lot of seats at the top for women to fill. In fact, 86% of executive officer positions are currently held by men. I think, if we weren’t afraid, we would get there pretty fast. Sandberg wants 50/50 but I think we deserve even more. As Oprah says, Lean In is a modern day manifesto to women. Get inspired, get motivated and lean in. Our journey is just starting.

Nicole Nicole is an Account Director at Work Group. Joining the business in 2009, her focus is on building effective relationships with clients – partnering with them to uncover their employment promise and bringing it to life through a compelling and engaging brand strategy. She’s passionate about all things “brand” and about women in the workplace. Learn more about who she is and what she thinks on LinkedIn.

When Honey Ross, a 15-year-old student at the King Alfred School in North London, walks into her computing class she is surrounded by testosterone. “It’s sad,” Ross said. “[Technology] is such an amazing world. It’s just waiting for loads of young girls to jump in.”

According to the National Center for Women and Information Technology only 24% of technology jobs in the U.S. are held by women, down 12% from last year. Only 19% of high schoolers in the U.S. that take advanced computer science tests are girls. Four out of ten gadgets are bought by females, but only 3% of the creative minds behind them are women.

These statistics suggest that women in technology are becoming an endangered species.

Lady Geek and the woman behind it all, Belinda Parmer, wants to bridge this gap between women and technology. Her consulting firm works with technology companies to change the way they communicate with females. They want women to make the connection between the Ipad or smartphone in their hands and the possibility of creating it.

Technology is a rapidly growing industry, yet young girls aren’t drawn to pursue a career in it. Parmar traces this lack of interest, at least partially, to technology’s image. When her team asked school children to draw a person that works in technology, they all sketched brainy, disheveled looking men.

Parmar recently took Lady Geek into the classrooms, by launching Little Miss Geek, a non-profit that inspires young girls to become technology pioneers. Her team runs school workshops and gets female role models from the industry, such as Olivia Solon, the News Editor at Wired UK and Siobhan Reddy, Studio Director at Media Molecule – a computer gaming company – to visit schools and get young girls excited about a career in technology. Little Miss Geek is currently trying to create coding clubs for girls as well.

The future of our technology is in the hands of this generation, but would that future look any different if there were more women creating it? Click here to learn more about how Belinda Parmer is laying the groundwork to turn women consumers into creators.

By Jacqueline Monti 

Weight Watchers, one of the world’s largest and most popular dieting companies, relies on its group leaders to maintain this coveted description.

These employees, mostly women, recruit and retain members globally through the nearly 50,000 face-to-face meetings they hold and run every week. Often highly educated and highly skilled, these leaders are hired after losing dozens of pounds themselves, so they are eager to help others in the familiar battle with weight loss.

The company depends on these women to literally live the brand’s promise, yet they receive poor wages, work many unpaid hours, and have even recently inundated an internal company website expressing that their hard work and dedication go unrecognized.

Sharon H. Mastracci, an expert on women’s employment at the University of Chicago, said these circumstances parallel those in other female-dominated jobs, such as child care and social work.

“Caring work is undervalued, and they’re taking for granted that you care so much you’re going to be there no matter what,” says Mastracci about Weight Watchers.

The same problem exists in one of America’s fastest growing jobs – home health care aides. Baby Boomers are aging and this field is expected to grow by 70% in the next decade, according to the Labor Department. Paul Hogan, chairman of Home Instead Senior Care – a national home care services company- plans to hire 45,000 caregivers this year alone.

Expected increase in home care aides

This overwhelming demand for people to care for those who cannot care for themselves may be difficult to meet. The nearly 2 million workers, also mostly women, that are expected to change bedpans, prepare meals and clean the homes of elderly and disabled patients are making the same wages as a teenager flipping burgers at McDonald’s. They do not receive benefits and many rely on food stamps and federal assistance to get by.

While the Obama administration has been trying to enforce laws that will protect home health care aides and Weight Watchers executives have alluded to increased compensation, no changes have taken place yet.  While some dismiss the obvious, many of these workers blame their paltry pay on the simple fact that they are female. Click here to read more about these on-going battles.

By Jacqueline Monti

On Sunday March 3rd, we joined 3,000 riders across New York City in the battle to beat cancer.Cycle for Survival

After eight hours of cycling, a few celebrity sightings and many heartwarming stories, Cycle for Survival 2013 raised over $13,510,572. Every single dollar will go to rare cancer research and exploring treatment options at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. We are so proud to be part of this movement and thankful to everyone who donated.

Cycle for Survival