We wouldn't blame anyone for declaring 2012 the year of women in business. From new CEO appointments like Marissa Mayer (who went from VP of Google to head of Yahoo!) to women like Oprah who got their feet wet in new ventures, there are plenty of inspiring female CEOs in business, including tech and media. While there are still many strides to be made in terms of getting females to fill more top positions, we consider this a great year for working ladies. Tell us: who was your favorite power female of the year?
Most of my friends in my age range (the mid to late 20s) aren't really thinking about kids and how becoming a mother will affect their careers. All we talk about is how we want to progress in our work lives and what we're going to do to get there. However, I've been realizing that it's a good idea to start thinking about how becoming a mom will affect our careers. If we think about it ahead of time, we'll be well prepared when the time comes around. Huffington Post writer Margaret Heffernan gives some great ideas on what you should do in your professional life before motherhood:
- Bank up achievements. Heffernan recommends building a solid resume of achievements and skills before you take some time off to be a mommy. And while you're away, do your best to keep in touch with professional contacts and find ways to retain your skills. You can do that by taking classes or workshops.
- Find what you love before you have kids. This will make the transition back to work easier. In fact, in a New Yorker profile, Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg says that she's seen too many women give up their jobs once they had children because they were not doing what they loved prior to having kids.
I'm gradually seeing the conversations with people in my Gen Y social circle changing and heading toward serious life topics such as down payments on houses, how big the wedding guest list is going to be, and baby names. Becoming a mother is a reality that many career women will face, so it's better to start thinking about it now even if kids are currently the furthest things from your mind.
Women tend to overanalyze, going over a bad situation countless times, wondering if they can do things any differently or trying to figure out what they could've done better. That kind of behavior is quite detrimental to you and your work. You should use the energy to quickly deal with the situation and move on instead of moping about it.
Here is some great advice from Kathy Button Bell, a high-level executive at manufacturing and tech firm Emerson, who tells the New York Times that getting over things quickly is a good trait to have as a career woman:
"I learned a lot being a commodities trader. Trading teaches you a lot of lessons. It’s like life, because things come and go really quickly, and really bad things and really great things happen. I learned you have to get over the bad things quickly because you have to stay present in the moment to make the next choice.
That lesson of getting over things, especially as a woman in business, is super-helpful, so you don’t linger on things and you don’t lie in bed at night awake worrying about stuff. You move on to things that you can make better. If you look at employees or bosses, the best ones have great energy and are good at applying it fast enough to solve problems."
Being the "nice girl" at work has its perks — everyone gravitates toward you because you're always trying to please other people. However, in terms of getting what you want in your career and having your career progress at the rate you want it to, being too "nice" might hinder you. Lois Frankel, author of Nice Girls Just Don't Get It advises to "get outside your comfort zone and be willing to deal with other people's discomfort, because if you spend your life making other people comfortable, you may feel good, but you're not going to get what you really want."
To get ahead at work, you need to be more assertive, but you don't have to be too aggressive about it — there are ways to do it in a positive manner. Here are some tips Frankel has for women to drop the "nice" act:
- Leverage Your Relationships: If you have cultivated a great network and relationships, don't feel bad about reaching out to someone for help. Many "nice girls" feel bad asking others for help, but they need to get over that and take advantage of the relationships they worked hard to build.
- Don't Say Yes All the Time: Pick and choose what you'll say yes to, and be sure to "manage people's expectations" by stating your limitations about the project and what you'll realistically be able to get done.
- Use Less Words: Instead of talking too much, try to make your messages succinct and to the point. Frankel says, "Women tend to use more words than men because they either feel as if they have to compensate for something or prove themselves." Use less words and gestures. Be sure to be mindful of filler words such as "like" and "uh-huh" as well.
We're thrilled to present this smart LearnVest story here on Savvy!
Wendy Downs is the owner and founder of Moop, an online shop that sells stylish, utilitarian handmade bags for men, women and children. Is it successful? Just ask her devoted fans, who rave about the quality of both the bags and the customer service.
Wendy’s success seems almost too easy. The four-year-old business turned a profit in its second year, and it has grown from one old sewing machine and an Etsy shop to a storefront workshop in Pittsburgh and its own e-commerce site.
Find out how Wendy turned an idea into a success story, with no previous business experience — plus a giveaway below!
How did you get the business started?
After I graduated in 2006 I was basically unemployable with a useless graduate degree in art. I was using this old sewing machine to sew together a bag for myself. It wasn’t a very nice bag, just a rectangle with two handles, but people started asking where I got it, and if I could make them one.
Then my sister-in-law came to visit and she asked if I had ever heard of Etsy. A few months later, I set up shop, and within three days somebody had bought a bag.
Do you regret getting your art degree?
It wasn’t totally useless. My degree was in photography, and I do take all my own product photographs. If I’d only had an “Accounting 101″ class, though . . .
Were you scared about running your own business?
There was a short time where I was working another job, and the moment when I decided to quit was scary. But so far it’s been only good. My dad ran his business and both his parents ran their own business, so there was this entrepreneurial thing within me that I hadn’t tapped into.
I tend to operate on the philosophy of just doing things. Sometimes that works for me, and sometimes it doesn’t. But if I don’t try, I tend to wonder what the outcome will be.
Today marks the 100th year we're celebrating the International Women's Day, a holiday that celebrates the power of women all over the world. We've come a long way in gender equality, and yet there is still a steep corporate ladder for us to climb. Although there are strong women role models for us to look up to, there are still too few around — only 3 percent of the Forbes 500 companies in the US have female CEOs. It's time to push ahead and take our well-deserved place in boardroom seats, in C-level positions, the top echelons of the government, and more. Here's why women deserve the same opportunities as men.
We're the talent. Fact: women either outnumber or are quickly catching up to men in higher education institutions. The Labor Department said last month that one in four women go to college before they're 23, which compares to the one in seven men. Women will benefit companies with their unique skill sets which will have been honed and developed by higher education experiences.
We outperform. Because we have to jump through more hoops and put in more effort to see success in a male-dominated world, we tend to be better performers than our male counterparts. A Stanford and University of Chicago research collaboration recently found that the female congress representatives outperform their male peers because it's harder for them to get elected to the position. Our outperformance is probably what earns female CEOs a higher pay.
For more reasons on why women deserve the top positions, read on.
Failure doesn't have to crush you, it can even make you stronger. It's OK to fail as long as you learn from it, CEO of VMware Diane Greene said last night at a Women 2.0 event. It's a line that I've heard from many powerful women: don't be afraid of failure. In fact, the queen of fantasy, J.K. Rowling, said in a Harvard commencement speech two years ago that "rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life." You're only selling yourself short if you play safe your whole life because you're too afraid of making a mistake.
It's refreshing to hear this, because we've all been taught that failure is a dirty word, and we're mostly driven by our fear of doing something wrong. In fact, even science agrees with this — research from MIT says that we learn more from succeeding rather than failing. However, I don't think that's true for every scenario, and I think it's ultimately up to us to reap the benefits and learn from our failures. Sugar readers seemed to agree with this, and 76 percent of them said on a TrèsSugar survey that they have learned more from their mistakes than their wins.
You don't have to be a CEO of a company or a billionaire author to make mistakes; it's something that everyone inevitably experiences in their life. It can be a time when you're stretched at work with too many meetings or are struggling to graduate from school. Or maybe you're feeling overwhelmed by a massive credit card debt. Just take a deep breath and take a page from these power women — pick yourself up and get going, and see these blunders as a learning experience.
Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey are definitely forces to be reckoned with. Companies see huge returns when one of them endorses their product. An analysis by the Harvard Business Review showed that stock prices of a clothing company would soar whenever the first lady wears its products. The author of the findings, professor David Yermack, estimated a $14 million value for an appearance by Michelle wearing the retailer's outfit.
On the other hand, Oprah's influence is so large that it even has a name: the Oprah Effect. Countless studies and documentary have been done on Oprah's wide-reaching influence, and we've seen plenty of unknowns skyrocket into fame. She creates primetime TV personalities (Dr. Phil and Dr. Oz to start with), sends books straight to best-seller lists, and gives firms a 1,000 short-term percent growth whenever they receive a mere shout-out from her.
Forbes recently ranked Michelle as the most powerful woman in the world and ranked Oprah as third. I'm wondering if you agree with the Forbes list, and I want to know who you think makes the bigger impact — Oprah or Michelle?
They were women who embraced the scarlet letter; they were 19th century prostitutes. Many of them broke through the countless barriers that women faced back then, according to a book review on Alternet. What liberties did courtesans receive? For starters: earning high salaries, owning property, walking solo in public, and using birth control.
Madams owned huge parcels of land that women in the wild west times weren't allowed to have. Some brothel owners were so wealthy, they even paid for projects to build roads and irrigation systems. In fact, some of them were counted among the richest people in the country. Not only did they have wealth, these scarlet women had great liberties as well. In a time where women had no say against being raped by their husbands, these madams wielded guns and hired policemen to protect their employees from rowdy customers.
Interestingly enough, these jezebels of the 19th century made big strides for the civil rights movement:
It is unlikely that there were more wealthy or powerful black women in nineteenth-century America than Mary Ellen "Mammy" Pleasant and Sarah B. "Babe" Connors. Pleasant was born a slave but became one of the most influential women in early San Francisco. She operated boardinghouses in which wealthy businessmen were paired with prostitutes. With the revenue from her primary business, she invested in mining stock and made high-interest loans to the San Francisco elite. Pleasant also filed suit to desegregate the city's streetcars, making her "the mother of the civil rights movement" in California.
Looks like these women weren't just fancy pieces and were holding their own back then.