Executive Women's Networking Blog

Executive Women's Networking Blog

Evidence Mounts on the Benefits for Children of Working Mothers

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Maxine Neuhauser

I have long felt that the debate over working mothers versus stay-at-home moms is largely fueled by a desire to perpetuate perceived (though not necessarily actual) cultural norms. Why should we feel guilty about working? Many women work outside the home because they must, but the truth is that necessity does not equate to reluctance.

Many of us want to work and feel that doing so benefits not just ourselves, but our families. Claire Cain Miller of The New York Times recently reported on a study of 50,000 adults in 25 countries that backs us up.  The study showed that having a working mother yielded “economic, educational and social benefits for children of both sexes.” This is great news for women who must work and also for those who choose to do so.

The evidence is mounting that “opting in” is better for their children than “opting out.” Many of us could have told you that already, but it’s nice to have the data to back it up.

Clothes Part II: Finding Your Style and Your Confidence

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Maxine Neuhauser

For those of us who are weary of all the advice on how to dress for success, may I suggest Women in Clothes, edited by Sheila Heti, Heidi Julavits, and Leanne Shapton?

The book presents essays, photos, drawings, and survey responses addressing women’s connections to their clothes.  And let’s face it, most of us tend to fixate on our clothing:  What to wear? Do we look fat? What’s our “season?” What’s everyone else wearing? And all of the rest – choosing baby clothes, dressing our daughters, shopping with friends, watching the “red carpet,” and on-and-on. Sometimes it’s fun, and other times, not so much.

Women in Clothes embraces women finding their own style.  A quote by art historian Alexander Nagel provides an cogent definition of style: “The state in which one feels the least separation between one’s character and one’s body.”

What does that mean when we dress for work?  For Matilda Kahl, Saatchi & Saatchi art director, it means wearing the exact same outfit every day. Stylish white silk blouse, slim fit black pants, and a black blazer when the weather turns cool.  Her essay in Harper’s Bazaar explains her reasons for choosing and staying with a personal uniform – including stress reduction and a hefty reduction in her clothes budget. The notion has been applauded by many who read the piece, even to the point of the Brian Lehrer Show on our public radio station WNYC  running a week-long listener event for women to select an outfit to wear every day for a week and to post a photo of their selected “uniform” with the tag  #1Week1Outift. Interesting to ponder how a self-imposed work uniform changes one’s daily routine and outlook.

Clothes, confidence, success, style.  Live, learn, experiment, and find what works for you.

2015 Health Access Summit Offers Networking Opportunities with Industry Stakeholders About Access to Health Care

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Many of us wonder how to grow a network, make an impact, and make a difference.  Get an idea, do some leg work and then run with it is one way.

Our partner Carrie Valiant, who founded the Health Care Industry Access Initiative, is one inspirational example of someone who identified an important need and took action.

After recognizing the need for more collaborative action across the health care industry to improve access to health care coverage and services in the United States, Carrie, who was already balancing a busy and successful health care legal career with firm administrative responsibilities (heading up professional development and the firm’s pro bono program), gathered her network of contacts and founded the organization.  It is the only nonprofit organization dedicated to industry-focused solutions to access across all segments of health care.

And next week, on May 20-21, her organization will be hosting its third annual Health Access Summit, in Washington, DC.

This year’s Summit brings together senior executives and health care industry stakeholders, many of whom are women, who are shaping best practices in health care access, to address a range of topics, including employer strategies to achieve health care access, the movement towards population health, innovations in medical service delivery, an update on the Affordable Care Act, strategies for optimizing health communication and engagement, and new concepts in extended and long term care.

Attendees will hear from top women health care executives such as Robin Henderson of St. Charles Health System, Pamela Shipley of Centene, Denise Prince of Geisinger Health System, and Ryan Shadrick Wilson from Partnership for a Healthier America, as part of the panel “’Health is Wealth’ – The Movement Toward Population Health.”

Great minds don’t necessarily think alike, but when you get a bunch of them in the same room, sometimes great things can happen.  Stay tuned for some of the “take aways” from the Summit.  They are bound to be informative and insightful.

For questions regarding the event, please email Amy Simmons at ASimmons@ebglaw.com.

Clothes Don’t Make the Woman, but They Can Sure Help (Part I)

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Maxine NeuhauserIn the 1970s, John Malloy coined the term “dress for success” in his advice book of the same name, targeted to women professionals.  His message that looking professional is the means to advancement and success for women continues to resonate—and there is plenty of reason to believe that dressing well matters—so, too, skills, opportunity, confidence, and support.

On March 11, 2015, the Women’s Initiative of Epstein Becker Green hosted an after-work networking event to support the New York City Coalition for the Homeless’ First Step Job Training Program and its clothing “boutique,” which provides professional clothes and accessories for the program’s students, as they dress for interviews and embark on their professional careers.

First Step helps hundreds of women achieve a newfound sense of self-esteem and direction. First Step’s innovative 14-week curriculum includes more than 75 hours of computer instruction, along with literacy workshops, communication and interpersonal skills development, and other hands-on activities that give students a thorough and practical understanding of the job market and workplace. The program places students in internships with major corporations or nonprofit organizations and offers mentoring by experienced professional women. First Step also provides a lifetime of post-graduate services, including job placement assistance, ongoing mentoring from staff and volunteers, support groups, additional training seminars, and numerous networking opportunities with alumni and business professionals. The program has proven to be highly effective. Last year, of those enrolled, approximately two-thirds graduated, successfully completing both the classroom and internship portions of the program, of which 75 percent secured full-time employment.

Approximately 40 women attended the Women’s Initiative event which focused on giving back, stepping up, and making a difference and which furthers the Women’s Initiative’s mission of creating opportunities for professional women to develop rewarding professional relationships.

Nature or Nurture? Advertising, Toys, Sexist Stereotypes, and Destiny

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Maxine Neuhauser

In the midst of the holiday buying season, let’s take a moment to reflect on the influence of advertising on our gift-buying choices and the potential impact that those choices have on our children. We are well versed in the power of advertising in enforcing stereotypes in our culture and on ourselves. Last month, NPR aired a segment that offered striking evidence of how much that might matter.

The NPR segment reported on how advertising in the early days of personal computers, which were marketed by companies such as Radio Shack and Commodore, effectively shut the door on girls entering computer science by targeting the new product as a toy for boys, much like erector sets.  Pitching personal computers to boys gave them a significant head start in learning computing and coding. Girls, on the other hand, did not grow up coding because personal computers were not marketed to them. As a result, by the time that boys entered college, those considering a computer science major already had a significant base of knowledge.   The boys’ baseline then came to be the standard expected by professors.  Girls who had a similar interest in computer science entered college with a knowledge base far behind that of boys; as a result, most girls abandoned computer science for other degrees before really even getting started. From there, the male computer nerd/genius stereotype took off and took hold. This is despite the fact that women led the field until 1984.

Much of society continues to perpetuate these harmful sexist stereotypes. Just last year, Random House published Barbie, I Can Be a Computer Engineer, targeted to three- to seven-year-old girls. As reported by Taylor Lorenz in the Business Insider, Barbie “is portrayed as an inept programmer who inadvertently plagues her friend’s computer with a virus and can’t fix a bug without help from a man.”  According to one Amazon review quoted in the article:

Barbie starts out at breakfast stating that she’s designing a game but when questioned by her sister Skipper, she admits, “I’m only creating the design idea, I’ll need Steven and Brian’s help to turn it into a real game.” Literally six sentences into the story, and already Barbie can NOT do it.

Although the book has been discontinued and now appears to be a collector’s item ($199.99 sold as a package with I Can Be an Actress), it is out there—along with the attitudes, both society’s and our own.

As reported earlier this year in an article by Elizabeth Weingarten, “How to Get Girls to Choose, and Stick with, STEM Careers: A Future Tense Event Recap,” published on Slate.com, Maria Klawe, President of Harvey Mudd College, offered this formula: “Show them that it is fun (and lucrative, and flexible), strip away the intimidation factor (by gently telling know-it-all, geeky boys in class to pipe down), and help them see that they’re smart enough to do it.”

I’ll go for that.

Women Entrepreneurs – Risk, Reward and Remarkable Talent Changing and Challenging the Corporate Milieu

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by Becca Sanchez Martin

[From the Editors: One of our engaged and regular readers of The Executive Women’s Networking Blog, Becca Sanchez Martin, Community Manager, MBA@UNC, has called to our attention a number of creative and innovative women entrepreneurs— creators of their businesses and, in a very real way, architects of their own professional destinies.  We thought Becca’s guest post and the short stories of these incredible women should be shared.  Hope you enjoy! If you have a post that you think might be of interest to our readers, please send along— we love hearing from our readers.]

For the past 26 years, women have outnumbered men on college campuses— and within the last 12 years, they have outnumbered men in earning undergraduate business degrees. A recent study suggests that women are better leaders than their male counterparts, and companies with women in executive positions are, on average, 48 percent more profitable. Yet despite the evidence that women add significant value to organizations, they are wildly underrepresented in leadership positions at work. In Fortune 500 companies, just 14.6 percent of executive officers are women.

Fortunately, the gender gap seems to be decreasing as more women entrepreneurs pursue executive MBA programs and gain the skills to lead and manage complex organizations. According to the 2014 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report by American Express OPEN, women are now starting more than 1,200 new businesses per day, and the number of women-owned businesses increased from 8.6 million to 9.1 million between 2013 and 2014.

Take a look at MBA@UNC’s article “33 Female Founders Forging Their Own Path” for profiles of highly successful female entrepreneurs who challenged the status quo by launching a business and leading that business on a path toward success.

While there still exists a gender gap in entrepreneurship, women are clearly making strides in evening out this discrepancy.  Women are becoming more optimistic about their future in entrepreneurship, and in turn, are more confident and more likely to succeed at these entrepreneurial ventures.

Becca Sanchez Martin (rebecca_martin@kenan-flagler.unc.eduis the community manager for the University of North Carolina’s MBA online program. MBA@UNC empowers professionals to pursue an MBA in entrepreneurship from one of the top 10 schools in the world for leadership development. Becca graduated from Loyola University in Maryland with a B.A. in Business Administration and a concentration in marketing. An avid traveler and lover of all things tech, Becca spent a year abroad working for a technology company in the wine sector. Now, back in the USA, Becca spends her spare time visiting friends in other cities, volunteering, and playing tennis. Follow her on Twitter @bsmart10.

Promotions and Progress: Three Women Join EBG’s Equity Partnership Ranks

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Maxine NeuhauserAre we going two steps forward and one step back? Two steps back and one step forward?  The anecdotes reported in an article by Staci Zaretsky, “Stop Treating Women Lawyers Like Crap,” published in Abovethelaw.com last week, are wince-inducing and suggest that there has been no progress for women lawyers at all.  I question the notion, as well as Zaretsky’s assertion, that “women lawyers aren’t taken seriously, and they certainly aren’t treated with respect by their fellow lawyers in this profession.”

There are few of us, if any, who do not have stories of coming up against subtle and not-so-subtle sexism. At least some of incidents reported in Zaretsky’s article, none of which are dated, however, may be of a later rather than recent vintage. On the flip side, many of us also have stories of being supported, mentored, and provided with opportunities.

Plainly, there’s a lot of progress yet to be made. (In its Report of the Eighth Annual NAWL National Survey on Retention and Promotion of Women in Law Firms, published in February 2014, NAWL reported that 17% of the equity partners in the 200 largest U.S. law firms are women.) I am, however, delighted to report that at our shareholder’s meeting on October 18, 2014, Epstein Becker Green elected three new equity partners—all women.  This lifts our percentage of women shareholders to 21%.  So, while calling out sexism when we see it, let’s also give a shout out to progress and advancement.  Today, we  at EBG have three great steps forward to celebrate.  Congratulations to our new equity partners: Amy Dow, Susan Gross Sholinsky, and Linda Tiano!

Benchmarking Progress Part 2: Remember to Raise Your Hand a Little Higher

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Maxine NeuhauserI had not intended my post concerning women speakers being featured at EBG’s Client Briefing to be the first of a two-part series. But, after my post appeared, I was hit with two reminders about just how unusual our business-as-usual lineup of speakers actually was. They are both worth sharing.

First, I found Denise Graveline (@NoWomenSpeakers), who follows tweets about conferences with no or few women speakers—and also, apparently, conferences where women speakers are included. Denise retweeted my post about the three influential women featured at the briefing. (Thanks again, Denise!)

Then, on October 8, 2014, ProPublica and The New York Times’ The Upshot co-published an article by Charles Ornstein reporting on new federal data, which shows that men account for more than 90 percent of the 300 doctors who received the most money from drug and medical device companies as speakers and consultants. The article, “Dollars for Dudes: Almost No Women Among Medical Industry’s Top-Paid Speakers, Consultants,” cites data that, in 2012, men comprised 68% of physicians in the United States. The article notes that the reasons for the discrepancy are not clear, and Ornstein offers several possible explanations:

It’s possible that men are more willing to accept payments from drug companies than women. It’s possible that drug companies are more likely to make offers to male doctors. Or it’s possible that male doctors are simply much more likely to be in the senior positions or medical specialties that appeal to drug companies.

Yet, the data suggests that subtle bias and stereotyping may also be a factor.  In Ornstein’s article, Alison Tendler, an ophthalmologist who was among the top-paid women because she serves as the TV advertising spokesperson for the eye drug Restasis, observes, “I do feel that we can be potentially overlooked and not perceived as leaders and innovators.”  We’ve heard the advice she gives before, but it bears repeating: “In general, you have to raise your hand a little higher.”

Benchmarking Progress: EBG’s Client Briefing Features Three Women Speakers

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Maxine NeuhauserThis post is not only a little bit about tooting a horn, but also an appreciative nod toward how much has changed over the years for women in the workplace (acknowledging that there is still a lot to be done).

On October 2, 2014, Epstein Becker Green presented its 33rd Annual Labor & Employment Client Briefing. This year’s program featured two high-ranking speakers from federal agencies of key importance to employers:  M. Patricia Smith, Solicitor General, U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”), and Victoria Lipnic, Commissioner, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”).  The program’s luncheon featured remarks by Maria Bartiromo, Anchor and Global Markets Editor at FOX Business Network – FOX News Channel.

Solicitor Smith, who was appointed by President Obama, heads the DOL’s Office of the Solicitor. In her position, Solicitor Smith leads the office whose mission is to meet the legal service demands of the DOL, including providing legal advice; representation of the Secretary of Labor and client agencies in enforcement actions and defensive litigation; assistance in the development of regulations, standards, and legislative proposals; legal opinions; and advice concerning DOL activities.

Commissioner Lipnic is one of three presidentially appointed Commissioners, who, along with the Chair and Vice Chair (currently vacant), comprise the EEOC. The Commission develops and approves EEOC policies, issues charges of discrimination, and authorizes the filing of lawsuits.

The three speakers addressed regulatory and policy agendas, litigation, the economy, and other topics of interest to employers. Each of these women has achieved a position of influence and authority, and our audience of executives, in-house counsel, and other professionals at the briefing had the opportunity to gain valuable insights from their candid remarks.

Then after the briefing, Law360 carried articles reporting on the remarks of both Solicitor General Smith (see “DOL’s Smith Says Proposed OT Rule Is Still Months Away“) and Commissioner Lipnic (see “Don’t Expect Wellness Program Guidance: EEOC Commish“). Refreshingly, the articles did not include any mention of the speakers’ gender or what they wore.

Kudos to Our EBG Colleague for Her New Appointment at the Labor and Employment Relations Association

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Congratulations to our Epstein Becker Green colleague, New York office attorney Margaret (“Meg”) Thering on her unanimous election Wednesday evening, May 7, as Secretary of the New York City Chapter of the Labor and Employment Relations Association (“LERA”) for the fiscal year 2014-2015!!

LERA is the singular organization in the country where professionals interested in all aspects of labor and employment relations network to share ideas and learn about new developments, issues, and practices in the field. Founded in 1947 as the Industrial Relations Research Association (IRRA), the national LERA provides a unique forum where the views of representatives of labor, management, government and academics, advocates, and neutrals are welcome.

Today, LERA constituencies include professionals in the areas of academic research and education, compensation and benefits, human resources, labor and employment law, labor and management resources, labor markets and economics, public policy, training and development, and union administration and organizing.

Well done, Meg!!

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