What holds women back in reaching the top is a common question with no common answer. A general comment is about the ‘glass ceiling’ and the difficulty women face in breaking such barriers. However, the stories of two powerful global women have been trending recently and both for contrasting reasons.
Sheryl Sandberg, 43, chief operating officer of Facebook Inc., says women haven’t made enough advancements in the corporate world. Her point is, “While women continue to outpace men in educational achievement, we have ceased making real progress at the top of any industry,”. “This means that when it comes to making the decisions that most affect our world, the voices of women are not heard equally. She also believed in finishing work by 5.30 and going home to her family.
Marissa Mayer, Yahoo’s new, 37-year-old CEO, is a new mother who isn’t sending family-friendly workplace messages. Instead, it looks like she’s trying to out-macho the men who run most of America’s boardrooms. She took only a two week mini-maternity leave.
But as Mayer reinstates a business strategy that measures office facetime and cars in the parking lot, she has a nursery next to her office. It makes the work/family balance easier for Mayer, at the same time her latest decree ordering employees to report to office everyday, makes it tougher for everyone else. The rationale behind Yahoo’s no-telecommuting policy is supposedly connected to the need to reenergize the workforce.
It appears that the difference in approach does not really point to discrimination but stems from the family responsibilities taken by women. Society’s expectations on women makes them focus on family more and therefore, unable to move up in the corporate world, unless they forego work-life balance. In the above examples, one is trying to recognize the need for family and handle the challenges and the other seems to out do men and say family should not make a difference. Difficult to vote on one approach, I guess?