Magazine article Newsweek

When Women Lead; as a Growing Number of Female Executives Rise to the Top, How Will They Change the Culture of the Workplace?

Magazine article Newsweek

When Women Lead; as a Growing Number of Female Executives Rise to the Top, How Will They Change the Culture of the Workplace?

Article excerpt

Byline: Barbara Kantrowitz (With Vanessa Juarez)

This should be a season of celebration. America has its first female in the Oval Office. Everywhere you look, there are women surgeons, police officials, hard-charging executives and even amazingly resourceful undercover operatives. So why aren't women across the country cheering? Well, perhaps because those role models--important as they are--are all fictional. They're stars of popular TV shows like "Commander in Chief," "Grey's Anatomy" and "Alias." When will the real world catch up?

Without question, there has been a huge transformation in the past few decades. Women's earning power continues to rise along with their educational accomplishments. They are now more than half of all college students and about half of all medical and law students. It is no longer a big deal to see a woman at the helm of the nation's most prestigious universities, even at a technological powerhouse like MIT. Women are an important presence in a number of industries, like film. "The women who wanted those jobs had no reason to believe they couldn't have them," says Sony Pictures executive Amy Pascal of her peers. "We didn't look sideways or backwards." And even in the august chambers of the Supreme Court, it is a measure of how far we have come since Sandra Day O'Connor's groundbreaking nomination that in the continuing debate over Harriet Miers, no one has suggested she shouldn't be confirmed because of her gender.

But there are other, more troubling developments as well. Earlier this year the president of Harvard got in trouble for suggesting that women didn't have the right stuff for science (he has since apologized). …

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