Monday, October 25, 2010

Corner Office Moms

A dear friend (and fellow working mother of 3) sent me a great article in today's Wall Street Journal about University of Pittsburgh law professor Douglas Branson's new book, The Last Male Bastion. Mr. Branson throws a wrench in the "mommy track" theory by pointing out that there are 12 female CEOs in the Fortune 500 List, and 11 of those 12 are mothers.

The article details how most of the women in the c-suite have strong support systems, including spouses that either held down the fort at home or whose careers took a back seat to theirs. What was most interesting in this article is that so few of the women chronicled participated in the story. Further, the number of spouses and adult children that declined to comment was astounding.

I have to wonder, what was the personal cost to these Corner Office Moms? Did they have some secret sauce recipe to making it all work (and if so, why won't they share?) or was it just too messy to put in print?

I've long wondered how we get more women in the C-suite (seriously? 2.4% of Fortune 500 Companies are run by women??) and truly believe that once we do we'll have more family-friendly policies that benefit all employees and will create more paths to corporate leadership for women (mothers, or not).

Perhaps the best takeaway from the article comes from Harvard Economics Professor Carol Goldin, who has studied earning penalties linked to motherhood. "The fact that most big-company female CEOs have children may just state the obvious- that the highest achievers can handle big challenges."

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