Are Your Ideas Sticky?


You may know the perils of pioneering Pauline -- a performing, assertive woman who does great work, yet does not advance from her current position to the top. Karen Newman, Professor the Daniels College of Business at University of Denver, recently shared research at the Business and Professional Women's Convention in Colorado helping female executives, such as Pauline, find a good place to work.

In 2008, women hold around 50% of the management and professional positions.  This is progress in the middle management tier, yet women are not breaking through the glass ceiling to stay at the very top.  Only 15% of corporate officers of Fortune 1000 are women and this has been flat since 2002.

Why is this happening? Newman suggests while some women leave to start their own business or to have more balance in line with their family priorities, many females are pushed out or find limited career opportunities for advancement.

Good places for women to excel at the top have the following characteristics:

  • NOT a tight cadre of 'old boys' at the top.  You want diversity with different length tenures.
  • High turnover with low average job tenure, otherwise you are considered an outsider.
  • A young and diverse workforce which has less baggage of men and women's roles.
  • Good climate for women with women in lots of line and staff positions.  You want a work environment that supports balance and no sex discrimination / harassment lawsuits.

Danger signs include:

  • Being the first woman in the position
  • A boss that is new, insecure, or incompetent

What are we to do? Newman encourages women (and men) to:

  • Do due diligence – research the company, its culture, and your boss.  Look for a supportive climate with a diverse management team with people that have come from other organizations and women who support other women.
  • Watch out for Queen Bees – a women who is the only woman in the organization, got there on her own, and will undermine you.
  • Find a place where it's okay to be a woman – be your entire authentic self and build on relationships.
  • Leave if you are in a bad position and realize that it is NOT your fault.  You are most likely very good and this can be threatening.
  • Consciously and intentionally set other women up for success – create supporting, mentoring, and opportunities for women.

Many of these guidelines will help both men and women, especially pioneering Paulines, be the best they can be and help their organizations reach new heights.

Theresa M. Szczurek (


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