Women in the Workforce: Who’s Dropping Out and Why

Max Schireson, CEO of Mongo DB caused quite a stir this summer. But not for the reasons one might expect of a Silicon Valley executive. He didn’t leave for another high-profile position to advance his career; nor did he leave for a struggling non-profit needing his skills; nor did he leave for reasons of health, trauma, or personal struggle.

He stepped down from his job and position to spend more time with his family.

Taking Another Look at Priorities

Schireson did something many working women do: drop out. An astonishing 37% of women withdraw from the workforce mid-career. And in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) professions, that number is higher at 52%.

The number of mid-career dropouts in STEM professions is only half the story, because fewer women enter those professions to begin with. Dropping out of science and math starts in elementary school, and continues right up through graduate school.

What’s Going On?

Why are so many young women dropping out???

There are many reasons, but a chief cause it the self-fulfilling prophecy:

  • The prevailing stereotypes that women don’t excel in STEM subjects actively discourage them from entering these jobs. Belief becomes reality: Studies show that professors at research institutions strongly favor male applicants over female applicants, even when qualifications are equivalent. Surprisingly, even female professors share the same bias.

But the impact of stereotypes doesn’t stop there. These attitudes also operate in the workplace:

  • It’s an open secret that the work atmosphere in technology is competitive, and aggressive—if not downright hostile to women. The “guys’ club” macho atmosphere often leaves women out of networks and diminishes their opportunities to advance.

Though half of all women in STEM professions drop out mid-career, few take note. When a man does, people notice.

Schireson nails this discrepancy on his blog:

Matt Lauer asked Mary Barra, the CEO of GM, whether she could balance the demands of being a mom and being a CEO. The Atlantic asked similar questions of PepsiCo’s female CEO Indra Nooyi. As a male CEO, I have been asked what kind of car I drive and what type of music I like, but never how I balance the demands of being both a dad and a CEO.

Why Drop Out?

Schireson’s post points to one of the reasons men dominate leadership roles more broadly: their lack of role conflict.

Role conflict is the stress of playing two or more competing roles.

Most of us have dealt with role conflict:

  • Do I go fishing, or take my son to buy new shoes for school, so my wife can sleep in?
  • Do I stay late at the office to go over my presentation, or attend the parent-teacher conference at school?

However, higher status—whether due to position, wealth, or gender—diminishes role conflict. Wealth and position allow us to outsource the tasks and duties of our roles to others.

Traditional gender roles work this way too. Simply put, men have fewer roles to navigate, and less role conflict. It’s easier to move ahead if you have more time to dedicate to one responsibility.

Reducing Role Conflict

For women, reducing role conflict may be a powerful lever for change. If we look at the issue through a global lens, the countries with the highest rates of women in management have one thing in common: means for reducing role conflict.

What are those countries? You may be surprised.

Where Are Women Climbing the Corporate Ladder?

While the global average is 24%, China leads the pack with 51% of senior management jobs held by women. Russia comes in second with 43%, followed by Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Georgia and Armenia—each with 35% or more. Southeast Asia also exceeds the average percentage of women in senior management with Indonesia (41%), the Philippines (40%) and Thailand (38%) at the top.

So who’s at the bottom?

The G7 economies, according to this report by accounting firm Grant Thornton, with only 21% of senior roles occupied by women.

Why are those countries are doing better? Many post-communist countries profit from decades of equal opportunity backed by workplace policies and benefits, such as long maternity leaves, day care, shorter working hours, and other programs that eased role conflict and enabled women—and men—to focus on their families. The enduring legacy of those policies results in larger numbers of women in management.

In East Asian countries, the relatively high proportion of women in senior management can be partially explained by extended family support systems. Most families live with or near grandparents and other relatives who can provide free childcare.

Of all our efforts to make the workplace equal for women and friendly to families in the United States, this support lags most. While nearly two-thirds (63%) of companies offer flexible working hours, only 6% offer onsite daycare, and only 16% offer child care vouchers or support.

 If global figures give us any indication of what moves the needle on this problem, reducing role conflict should top the list.

A Human Problem, Not a Women’s Problem

 Business suffers whenever anyone drops out mid-career. Not only is it a huge loss of talent and organizational knowledge, but role conflict robs companies daily in terms of absenteeism, lost productivity, and tardiness. In a report by the National Conference of State Legislatures, child-care issues were named by employers as one of the biggest cause of workplace absenteeism and tardiness.

(And it’s not only child care. Increasingly, caring for aging and infirm parents is putting pressure on employees and employers.)

Men also miss out on family life. In a survey of Wharton male undergraduates, more men plan to abstain from fatherhood than in previous generations.

They simply can’t see how children fit into the picture.

What Will It Take?

The change starts with defining this as a human problem, not a women’s problem. Neither is it a work-life balance issue.

It’s a business problem, a productivity problem, a talent drain, and waste of investment.

People on the margins are the canaries in the coal mine. They are the first to notice and sound the alarm to an issue that eventually (if not currently) affects us all. But it’s not their problem, no more than car pollution is a problem only for those who live nearest the freeway.

Women’s drop-out rate is a symptom of something that negatively affects men and companies as well. So let’s call it what it is, and recognize that we all pay the price for it.

Next, we need to push the conversation forward, and have a robust debate about parenting, household chores, and gender roles—at work, at home, and in public. We must ask for support from our workplaces, and negotiate for child support, daycare vouchers, after school care, flex time, and maternity and paternity leave as part of our compensation packages.

Being Flexible

We need businesses and organizations to support flexible career paths, to provide off-ramping and on-ramping programs so that taking time out to have a family is a phase of one’s career, not the end of it.

We must bring this up at home as well. We have to talk about housework, chores and responsibilities. Thankfully, gender and relationship roles have changed dramatically in the last twenty-five years. More partners actively share family duties and more dads stay at home.

Yet statistics on household work are still sobering. On average, men take on far less housework and parenting responsibility. Sharon Sassler, Cornell professor of policy analysis and management, who has studied gender roles and division of labor, says that the last frontier of gender equality might just be “who cleans up.”

Taking Responsibility

Here’s where women can take the lead. They’re not just asking men to take more responsibility; they have to change as well. For some women, it might mean giving up the sense of control. For others, it might mean valuing their career as much as they value their husband’s. And for some, it means asking other family members, even older children, to step up.

Schireson’s post shows that it’s not just the canaries in the coal mine, but the miners, too, who are starting to show the strain. Men and women are closer than ever to finding a middle ground in which we can find solutions that work. Look at those global numbers. Let’s take inspiration from those countries.

If they can do it, so can we.

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———————
Julie Diamond

Julie Diamond is a Leadership Consultant, Coach, and Trainer
She specializes in Designing and Delivering Leadership Development Programs
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L2L: Extraordinary Female Leaders in History

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On Leadership and Facing a Massive Data Breach

Data Breach

Data breaches are becoming a serious threat to companies of all sizes. But many business leaders are underestimating the debilitating costs associated with a hack — and paying the price for this ignorance.

Data Breach on Someone’s Watch

Look at what happened to Neiman Marcus. Hackers stole the credit card data of 350,000 of the luxury retailer’s customers last year. The breach cost the company $4.1 million and counting in legal fees, investigations, customer communications, and credit monitoring subscriptions. Plus, it suffered a $68 million loss during the holiday quarter.

The company later learned that hackers set off system alarms 60,000 times — but it failed to see the warning signs amid the massive accumulation of data.

In the digital age, companies have to be wary of potential breaches. And leaders are the ones responsible for identifying the threats, taking action, and mitigating the costly consequences.

Underlying Implications of a Data Breach

Cleaning up a malicious breach in the U.S. can cost up to $246 per record. And the effects of an intrusion extend across an organization.

A company can lose revenue, as Neiman Marcus did, or face fines from regulatory agencies. In Massachusetts, for example, a company faces a fine of up to $5,000 for each compromised record. A hacked company can also lose trade secrets.

Breaches can impede financial transactions, causing data to become unavailable or unusable and disrupting business. Furthermore, a defaced website weakens a company’s integrity and credibility. If customers can’t access cloud services, check their accounts, or make purchases, companies could lose their trust as well.

Major Industries Hackers Are Pursuing

Not surprisingly, financial firms are attractive targets. A recent survey of 5,000 senior executives in 99 countries by PricewaterhouseCoopers found that 45 percent of financial services firms had been hacked. Only 17 percent of other types of firms had the same experience.

Health data is also high on hackers’ lists. While a stolen credit card or Social Security number is worth a dollar or less, a person’s medical information can yield hundreds of times more, according to the World Privacy Forum.

Hackers recently stole the personal information of 4.5 million patients of Community Health Systems’ 206 hospitals in 29 states. The government has tracked 944 health institution incidents, affecting about 30.1 million people, since 2009. A majority are tied to theft, followed by data loss, hacking, and unauthorized access accounts.

Very often, successful intrusions can be traced to sloppy management practices. The health information of 500 patients at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles was compromised when an employee’s laptop was stolen from his home. The laptop didn’t have hospital-required encryption software.

Nearly every industry is at risk. Hackers stole personal financial information of about 25,000 employees of the Department of Homeland Security after a breach in a contractor’s system. But this widespread susceptibility to breaches doesn’t mean leaders should accept this fate.

A Leader’s Role in Protecting the Company

Digital security is not an IT problem — it’s a company problem. If a breach happens, the board won’t call the technology director; it will want to speak to the CEO. Here are a few ways leaders can actively prepare for and prevent breaches.

  1. Understand what you’ve got. Decision makers should have a full understanding of the data they are housing or interacting with that could present a valuable target for cybercriminals.
  1. Know the law. Examine any data security regulations governing your industry. If a breach occurs, which regulatory body should be notified?
  1. Make a plan. Administrators and employees should know their responsibilities ahead of time so they can react quickly if any suspicious activity is discovered on the network or within their internal systems. The plan should include timely public announcements.
  1. Ensure that your culture emphasizes security. Leaders should implement tangible security programs that employees are actively involved in. Everyone should be responsible for securing their information, not just the chief information security officer and members of the compliance and technology organizations.
  1. Invest in training. This is especially relevant for compliance and technology security staff. The methods malicious users utilize to attack organizations are constantly changing, and it’s critical that your employees keep their skills up-to-date.
  1. Run security assessments on your network. This allows an organization to potentially find security issues before a malicious user does. Prioritize external-facing systems during the scan to locate holes.
  1. Monitor compliance. Target was breached because an HVAC contractor was given remote access to its systems without requiring two-factor authentications. And when hackers stole the personal or credit card information of 100 million customers, it cost the company an estimated $148 million in losses in one quarter.

Data breaches can compromise a company’s reputation and financial stability. And as a leader, your name is associated with your company’s preparedness and response to a hack.

To lessen the burden or even bypass a potential cyber attack, you need to understand the extent of this threat, actively plan for it, and properly educate your employees. When you’ve prepared for the worst, you can protect the positive customer rapport you’ve worked so hard to build.

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——————–
Scott Byers

Scott Byers is the President and CEO of EDM Americas
EDM Americas a Global Company dedicated to Information Lifecycle Management
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Learn This: 5 Awesome Apps That Grow Knowledge

Awesome Apps

Leading people and teams in this new era of connectivity, having the right tools in hand can really help make a difference. With literally thousands of smartphone and device apps to choose from, finding educational apps may be truly easy.

But finding educational apps that are worth using is another story!

5 Awesome Apps That Grow Knowledge

 

That’s why this list of the best learning apps includes some of the most talked about and highly rated apps on the market today. Armed with the right app and mobile products, you can learn virtually anything, from how to prepare Russian cuisine to simply brushing up on your mathematics.

Mathomatic

Most math apps are little more than fancy calculators, but Mathomatic is different. In many ways, this app is closer to an advanced graphing calculator than to a simple smartphone app. For instance, it can actually solve algebraic equations. It also comfortably handles derivatives, indefinite integrals of polynomials, and essentially everything else under calculus. While solving problems, Mathomatic shows all its steps as well as all possible answers, so it’s easy to learn just by watching the app.

Best of all, Mathomatic does this in a reasonably clear, easy to manage, and simple to understand interface that doesn’t add any more confusion to an already difficult subject. No matter if you’re trying to check your homework, solve a particularly complicated system of equations, or just simplify a polynomial, this app is definitely worth checking out.

History Line

The highest quality education is often the result of a collaborative effort. And that’s no doubt one of the reasons why History Line has been so popular in the academic community. History Line is a collaborative learning app with an emphasis on US History, and it supports anywhere between one and six players simultaneously.

In short, the app presents series of events, and players have to order the events into the correct sequence.

But in a multiplayer game, every player is responsible for only a portion of a much larger timeline. Players have to choose if the elements the game has given them belong on their own timeline, or if they need to be sent to another player handing a different period of time. Besides being truly engaging and entertaining, History Line can help you build an impressive command of history for such a simple app.

iTranslate Ultimate

Trying to learn a new language? iTranslate Ultimate lets you quickly translate between five languages: English, French, German, Spanish, and Italian. One of the most difficult parts of learning a new language is handing the pronunciation of new words. That’s why iTranslate Ultimate can pronounce the thousands of words in its multiple dictionaries for you.

Apart from being an excellent aid for learning a language and accurate pronunciation, this app is a useful tool for navigating through some of the more diverse cities in American and abroad.

USA Factbook and Quiz

Want to know more about US History? The USA Factbook and Quiz app can help teach you all about the world around you, modern and historical.

Apart from the state by state information, including regional maps, flags, and data bout major cities, the USA Factbook app equips you with the ability to test your knowledge in a quiz. In many ways, this highly patriotic app is as educational as it is fun. If you’ve ever wanted to know all the state capitals or master US geography, the multiple choice quiz is about the best an app can do.

Taber’s Medical Dictionary

Whether you’re just looking to expand your own knowledge, or you’re an active medical professional, Taber’s Medical Dictionary is a must have. Containing a dictionary of 65,000 terms, 32,000 audio pronunciations, hundreds of videos, and detailed patient care statements, Taber’s Medical Dictionary is one of the most in-depth medical apps in the world.

No matter if you’re interested in nutrition, therapy, nursing, or just want to keep in touch with the latest information in the medical world, Taber’s Medical Dictionary is all you need to do it.

Do you have a favorite educational or personal development app? Please let me know what it is and how it helps you!

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———————
Robert Cordray

Robert Cordray is a freelance writer with over 20 years of business experience
He does the occasional business consult to help increase employee morale
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Web

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On Leadership, Customer Experience and Analytics

Bid Data

Leading any organization is difficult. For many, the operational components are easy and dealing with the “people part” is where their challenges emerge. But for others, the soft-skills people-part is easier and the nuts-and-bolts part of the business cause the pains.

When it comes to the operational nuts-and-bolts part of leading a business, there are some great ways to lead with better results.

And this is how you deal with using business information, big data, and analytics strategically to lead through better results.

In his book “Hooked on Customers: The Five Habits of Legendary Customer-Centric Companies,” author Bob Thompson spells out the strategic approach to help with the operational side of leading success.

Below are some of his thoughts and examples.

Using Analytics to Improve the Consumer Experience

"Hooked On Customers"Business leaders are turning to analytics to uncover insights in so-called big data. However, big data is like a vein of gold buried under your feet. Unless you can mine it effectively to improve business performance, all that data could be a worthless distraction.

Analytics is a terms applied broadly, perhaps too broadly. The most common form is descriptive analytics used to slice and dice data to understand what happened in the past. But increasingly attention is turning to forward-looking analytics, using specialized algorithms and software.

Prescriptive analytics take it a step further and attempt to actually influence the future. For example, analytics can be used to help a call center agent decide the best offer to present to a customer to increase the odds of making a sale, or to suggest actions to deal with a service issue.

Macy’s is a great example of a major retailer competing for the loyalty of “omnichannel” shoppers—those using multiple channels, such as retail stores, websites, mobile devices, and even social media. Several years ago, the company began a customer-centric shift, led by Julie Bernard, group VP of customer centricity.

Speaking at a 2012 conference, Bernard said her goal was to “put the customer at the center of all decisions.” Sounds good, but old habits die hard in a 150-year-old brand where data was organized around products. The retailer used POS data to analyze product sales but couldn’t figure out what individual consumers were doing. One simple example: Did a spike in sales of a new pair of jeans mean the product was a hit or that one person bought all twelve pairs in a store?

By also looking at data from loyalty programs, credit cards, and other sources, Macy’s was able create a more complete understanding of the products, pricing, and experiences that move “loyals”—those consumers already buying regularly.

Another Example

Let’s look at another example in the world of e-commerce. Let’s say you want to present shoppers with hotel options in a major metropolitan area like New York. According to then Expedia VP Joe Megibow, most users won’t do a complex search of hundreds of hotels, so it’s critical that Expedia put the “best” options at the top of the list. If your instincts told you to present the cheapest or more popular hotels first, Expedia would frustrate a lot of shoppers and lose bookings.

Analytics determined the factors most likely to meet customer demand, such as real-time availability, inventory by class, rate deals, reviews, and purchase frequency. Then, using technology from an analytics software vendor, Expedia built a predictive analytics model based on the handful of factors that really mattered, out of about two dozen possibilities. The model was operationalized using Expedia’s own proprietary technology.

Result: When consumers search NY hotels, they’re more likely to find the hotels that they really want, and Expedia will get the sale. A great example of technology enabling a win-win.

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———————
Bob Thompson

Bob Thompson is Founder/CEO of CustomerThink
He is also and Author of the book “Hooked on Customers”
Email | LinkedIn | TwitterBook | Web | Blog

 

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Leaders: Filling the Talent Pool

Filling the Talent Pool

Top 25 Faces of Learning and Leadership Development 2014

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Top 25 Leadership Development 2014

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