Harvard Business School Case Study

Jodi Kantor wrote a great article this past week about an experiment that took place over the last two years at HBS.  What came across is that Harvard realized that they had gender issues and they wanted to attract more female contenders and make sure they had a positive experience vs spending two years in a hostile male dominated environment. 

There are several interesting points that Jodi writes about in the article but I found the most relevant is that many women felt that they had to make a choice between the academic world and the social world.  Some of the smartest women felt that they could not appear too smart because they would be perceived as too aggressive or too assertive and that could hurt them in the long run from a job to even meeting a great guy.

Did anyone think that did not exist?  I kept thinking about the article all weekend.  This week I keynoted a conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico on Skype.  It is strange doing that but I could not be there and was delighted to speak to this audience of over 100 women.  The event was for the tech community festival and LIsa Abeyta asked me to speak as she was putting something together geared specifically for women.  I met LIsa the Womens Entrepreneur Fesitval last year. 

When I was putting some notes together about what I would talk about I had that article in the back of my head and then something happened over the weekend which I wanted to share with the audience. We were out in Brooklyn this weekend helping our oldest daughter Jessica look at apartments.  When you work with any broker they make you sign a piece of paper acknowledging that they showed you the place first just in case someone else shows it to you and you end up renting it through someone else they get compensated.  We had signed a few over the morning at some open houses.

In the afternoon we ended up meeting a male broker who was going to take us out to see four places.  We were hanging out on the corner waiting for him when he came out with the clip board and the paper to sign.  The first people he had to pass through was both Jessica and me.  He walked right through us and handed the clipboard and pen to Fred to sign. 

After he walked away I said to Jessica, do you think there will be a time in our lifetime when people don't go directly to the man when financial documents like this have to be signed?  Her answer made me laugh but resonated.  She said not until all women are as intimidating as you are…and I mean that in a good way. 

So I wrap up this blog thinking about all the women I mentor and speak to, be bold, be assertive, show them how smart you are because if you don't then change will never happen.  Social is one thing but when it comes to school or business, show them what you got. 

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