Julie Smolyansky discusses how she overcame criticism regarding her gender when she abruptly inherited her father's company. After taking over, she has led the company to a 785% growth in shares, crediting her doubters to fueling her determination. More specifically, Smolyanksy attributes her success to studying women's studies in college which allowed her to anticipate discrimination, as well as relying on strong female role models. Thus, Smolyanksy is a perfect example of why women's studies matters, and how the success of women depends largely on seeing other women succeed around them.
The article also mentions an interview with another female executive, Mary Barra, who was asked how she juggled motherhood and executive duties- a question that is never asked of men. Instead of claiming to be inadequate in either role, Barra opened a conversation about how more women in the workforce encourages a healthier idea of work/life balance for both women AND men.
Women in leadership is not simply a women's issue; it is a societal responsibility. Men and women benefit from disciplines such as women's studies, which equips students to anticipate and constructively react to a variety of biases. Furthermore, talking about how to construct the workday to accommodate mothers will hopefully turn into conversations about how to balance work and family life for both mothers and fathers.
Television journalist Matt Lauer’s recent questioning of GM head Mary Barra regarding her ability to lead while fulfilling her role as a mother points to a double-standard among male and female executives. “No one ever asks a man whether they can run a company and be a father,” says Smolyansky. The attitude that begs questions like Lauer’s sends a subtle message to young women that they have to sacrifice motherhood to excel in their careers. Barra’s interview has started a conversation regarding what we expect from men and women in leadership roles...