Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Book Review: Women Lead the Way, by Linda Tarr-Whelan

Women Lead the Way: Your Guide to Stepping Up to Leadership and Changing the World
by Linda Tarr-Whelan
Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.
212 pages

If you've been keeping up with my political rantings here and on Facebook and Twitter, it probably doesn't come as a surprise to learn that I did not cast my ballot this morning (Election Day, here in the States) for the woman running for Senate in my state. Nor did I vote for the woman running for State Representative in my district. 

I voted, of course.  Of course I did. But I didn't pull the lever (or push the electronic button, in this case) for a single woman this time around.

My choices were based on a variety of factors, but always come down to who I feel is the best person for the job.  I don't vote exclusively party lines, I don't vote solely on gender or one specific litmus-test issue. I don't vote for someone who "is me."  In the case of this election and my opinion, the Democratic men on the ballot happen to have more knowledge and experience to deal with the issues that matter to me. Again, in my opinion.

I mention all this because women's leadership on the political stage is very much on my mind this Election Day because of the attention given to the Senate race in my state but also because I recently read Linda Tarr-Whelan's book, Women Lead the Way: Your Guide to Stepping Up to Leadership and Changing the World. 

If you're interested in and an advocate for women's issues (for lack of a better word, for these are everyone's issues), then much of the information in Women Lead the Way doesn't come as much of a shock or surprise. Most of us know statistics like these, or perhaps guessed at some of them. They are well worth repeating, because they need to be kept in the forefront:

From pages 50-53:

- Women now earn an average of 58% of bachelor's and master's degrees.

- The sales generated by women-owned businesses equal the GDP of China.

- Would you believe the United States is 27th in the world in women's advancement?

- Women now make up 24% of state legislators - up from 20% fifteen years ago.

- The U.S. Congress is made up of 83% men and 17% women.  This representation of women places the United States 69th in the world.

- Women make 80% of consumer decisions in this country.

- It will take 73 years to reach parity between men and women on corporate boards in our premier Fortune 500 firms.

- Could you use another $440,000?  The wage gap really does add up.  Mid-career women today are missing out on close to one-half million dollars when you compare the average earnings of college-educated women and men employed full-time and full-year who were twenty-five to twenty-nine in 1984 and are now in their mid-forties. 

(My note:  I'm kind of wondering if there is, perhaps, a typo there?  I mean, I'm 41 and in 1984, I might have acted like I was in my mid-twenties and wanted to be, but in reality I was only 15. Just sayin'.)

- Only 20% of married women employees - virtually all of them professionals or managers - making $75,000 or more have a nonworking spouse. 

In the first half of her book, Linda Tarr-Whelan presents the issues matter-of-factly, with numbers galore, and champions the idea of The 30% Solution.  That's the premise that in any organization, women should comprise 30% of the decision-making power because only then is when real change can happen due to women's voices being heard.

One chapter is designed to instill confidence in those who might need a boost of self-esteem.  Tarr-Whelan also addresses the obstacles surrounding the reasons why more women don't run for office or why we don't pursue opportunities for advancement.

I've done a lot of reading on women as philanthropists and one of the very best (and most fulfilling) jobs I have ever had was as the first executive director for a women's foundation, so in some ways, Women Lead the Way was kind of a refresher course for me. That doesn't mean it isn't important for women of all ages.  It's very helpful in providing a roadmap for women of concrete, achievable strategies for becoming a strong leader in the workplace and as entrepreneurs, in the community, in the political world, in the philanthropic sector and for other women and girls.

What Others Thought:

A. Fine Blog: Alison Fine Writes About Social Media and Social Change

The Official BlogHer '10 Liveblog: White House Project Q and A with Linda Tarr-Whelan 

Linda Tarr-Whelan's website is here

copyright 2010, Melissa (Betty and Boo's Mommy, The Betty and Boo Chronicles) If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.


Florinda said...

I think you're right - the math's off. I was 20 in 1984; anyone in their mid-twenties then is pushing, or past, fifty now.

But aside from that quibble, this sounds interesting.

Anonymous said...

Yesterday was Equal Pay Day here in the UK.
On average, women earn a sixth less than men - the equivalent of men being paid all the year round and women getting their last pay cheque on November 2nd.
It is amazing how far we've come in the past hundred years - or even thirty - but there's still such a long way to go.
I'm interested in this idea you mention of 30 % - a critical mass of women so that you get real change. Makes total sense - means you can have both a sense of solidarity AND represent the diversity of women's views rather than just a few.