Posts Tagged ‘Women’

In last 15 years, I worked in IT for 13 years(my last company was IBM) and started 3 ventures in totally different industries. At all the 5 places( 2 job and 3 ventures) I got stuck after intial years of huge success. I could not expand my ventures beyond a point and also could not reach to my dream position in IT job.

I am a strong individual with all the right qualities in place, I am very determined, good decision maker( most of my decision were right), a high risk taker, very hardworking, organized, good in planning and all. I could not figure out what I need more to reach to a top most position in IT or start my own dream company and take it to the highest level. There were more questions than answers in my life.

Though I was ready to change myself and acquire new skill, I was clueless what to change and where were I going wrong. MBA was in my list for many years and now as I hit a road blocker, it was time to set aside everything and focus on learning. It was time to figure out how do Leaders are born and what they do differntly. it was time for a transformation. 3 months in LBS and everything started making sense to me. I could figure out all the missing steps in my last 15 years career.

I can see the gaps and I can answer all my questions. Now I know where I took wrong turns in my career and in my ventures. What I needed to do more and what less. I can see myself getting transformed slowly and gradually to the one I always wanted to be. I can see myself getting closer to my dreams and all my dreams are getting bigger and bigger day by day.

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Mr. Jan W., a risk analyst from CQS, who was interviewing me for the MiF admissions, did not expect to be asked why for every girl on the course there’re as many as 9 guys. He only said that he’d absolutely love to have the proportion levered up a bit…

The most universally accepted answers that people throw at you in situations like that are “gender inequality”, “glass ceiling”, unbearable hardness of “juggling commitments” with “family obligations”, all of which are usually followed by the respondent pulling on a condescending mask of grave pity. Why this version of truth and attitude haven’t become extinct yet is beyond my understanding – its not the 50’s anymore in most corners of our society. Take me, for example. My life is not hard, my life is wonderful; I am not juggling – I am finding time to do things I enjoy; I don’t have family obligations – I have people I love and care about the most in the world; I am not committed for life – I make my own choices, take pleasure in keeping busy and climbing up the Maslow pyramid.

Is my case ordinary? The only child, I was originally meant to be a boy called Ivan. That didn’t quite work out for my parents, – they had to deal with a little curly me, …and repaint the nursery. Their aspirations, however, transitioned into my daddy teaching me to play a guitar, chess, drive a car age 5, etc. In Russia kids go to mixed schools and only learn about some sort of inequality by reading foreign magazines. Probably the aftermath of communist days, we are brought up to share everything in our lives – when my great-grandpa went to the WWII, my great-grandma was in Moscow working as an armed guard at a gun manufacturing factory, while my granny was less than 2 years old.

I will not be so ignorant as to say that the problem doesn’t exist. It does, and the gender proportion of the business school intakes falls under its umbrella, together with numerous other examples, which routinely feature in high-profile conferences, workshops and change initiatives. But constantly talking isn’t necessarily communicating. Changing the public’s attitude is astronomically hard; while taking it one person at a time is stomachable.

So ladies, if you are even slightly considering applying to MiF, no matter your background, please remember that “inequality” is actually about “diversity”. There is no one-size-fits-all profile – you can read the details of LBS students on the website while I will shed light on the statistics that are left undisclosed by school’s official brochures – about our girl’s personal life and work. The best thing about doing the census was the unanimous “what gender inequality…?” response to me mentioning the topic of the post.

I am not a feminist. I would just like to see more of inspired and empowered ladies who are not being dramatic or paranoid, who step outside the comfort zone of clichés. Maybe we don’t rule the world, but we definitely make it go round.

Post Scriptum: My intake showed a more up-beat result – 3 girls for every 7 guys; and according to the MiF program office our course is exceptionally close, fun and overachieving (and not forgetting LBS MiF confirming its N1 World ranking this year). I hope the admissions levels are representative of the level of applications and this notion becomes a steady trend. Our exceptionally charismatic professor H. Moon taught us during one of the Org. Behavior classes that people perform better in co-educational environment . So for the business school guys the current situation is less performance enhancing than for the girls, isn’t it ;) ;)?

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Flying back from Moscow to Munich, I am contemplating the great advantages of attending an international school such as LBS. I just finished a tour of St. Petersburg and Moscow on which I embarked with a classmate, and were hosted in Moscow by two other classmates. This is exactly why I love this school so much: The opportunity to meet individuals from a broad range of backgrounds and nationalities. I am now friends with individuals from approximately 40 different nations – for a German girl from a small hick-town in Bavaria, that’s quite an achievement.

So why is that so important? It is important as our world will grow smaller and smaller in the coming years. Product innovation and branding will be less local and more global – and a lot of that is due to the internet, which aligns global taste. This means that more companies will need to become global in their thinking, their mind-set, their taste and their processes. Values from their home countries should be kept at their core, but they will need to expand beyond this horizon. And this is where such an international crew as we are comes in: Who else to help transcend this step and assist companies with becoming truly global.

Which brings me to my most important learning of Russia. It is not true that all Russians drink vodka. In fact, neither of my classmates does. Which means that I didn’t drink any vodka in Russia. But I am hopeful that my British classmates will help me out next time I see them…

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Duncan Chapple, LBS alumni and owner of extraordinary analyst relation agency Lighthouse, forwarded this week an article stating that at least at the University of Nairobi, women crowd men out of classrooms when it comes to doing an MBA. Admittedly, the article wasn’t featured in the NYT, but it’s amusing that Africa seems to be ahead of Europe and the United States for once: http://bit.ly/iSdV3Z

While the credibility of this article is somewhat shaky, I would like to throw the question out there if we do need more women in MBA classes. Or, on the other hand, what is keeping us women from doing an MBA? It’s especially strange given that year after year more women than men complete successfully their undergraduate degrees. So what’s happening in-between? Are we just falling off the bandwaggon? Are we not able to embrace power as we are so in touch with our feminine side (I am not, it seems)? I believe that the major reason for only 27% of women in the average MBA class at LBS are due to:

Women are afraid of the financial investment. It’s hard to carry this kind of debt around, especially if you are not already a high-flying executive, but somewhere in the middle of the ladder.

Women also have to have children at some point around their 40ieth birthday – exactly the time when you would be doing an MBA. People like my classmate Elizabeth Boudreau who does the MBA while raising two little girls have my admiration. My plants didn’t survive the fact that I was doing an Exec MBA and worked full-time.

I wonder if there is still a social stigma around a highly educated woman. I can’t count the times anymore I heard especially in Germany: But you will be overqualified then. Seriously, „overqualified“ is the worst word I ever heard. Quite a row of my female friends also feel that at some point they are better off supporting their husbands’ careers than pursuing their own careers.

Last, but not least, could it be that companies simply don’t want to deal with women in executive positions? Germany is actually a pretty good example, it’s hard for a woman to get onto a executive board. German companies shy away from outlandish things such as providing childcare. Much better to have a sound state system that pays mothers to stay at home and lament that we have a dearth of professionals.

All considered, I am inclined to think that we don’t need „just“ more women in MBA classes, I think we need more women who are as fed up as I am with clichés and go for what they want to do with their lives. I am convinced that attending LBS has been the single best idea in my life, as this experience has opened so many new venues for me. Two years ago, I would have never quit my job to start my own consultancy. This MBA has given me insight, know-how and self-confidence. But I admit that it’s not for the faint-hearted. So what is your opinion on this question? Are you ready to take on an MBA and go for what you want to do with your life?

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In General

Posted by: Kristen

Although I’m always a bit wary of generalizations, I believe they can and do serve a purpose. For example, in marketing we constantly speak of a target demographic or market segment. By definition, these are populations for whom a given trait is generally true. Hence, generalizations can be useful, but they can also be limiting unless we recognize their constraints.

Let’s take for example the trait of height and look at the figure below.  The figure shows two normal distributions of height, one for males and one for females. The average height for women is 65 inches (5.4 feet or 165 cm) and for men it is 70 inches (5.8 feet or 178 cm). So, it’s true that men are generally, on average, taller than women. If we were to consider the sizes of clothes that men and women would need, we might even say something like “Well, men are taller than women, so men’s clothes should be longer.” This is fine, and we are in fact speaking about the population means for whom the majority of men and women would be near and for whom this statement would be true.

Figure from http://www.usablestats.com/lessons/normal, with my own dashed lines added at the means.

However, let’s look at the tail ends of these distributions. While the tallest man is taller than the tallest woman, the area under the pink curve but to the right of the blue dotted line represents the number of women who are taller than the average man. By stating that “men are taller than women,” we ignore all these women in the tail end of the distribution for whom it is not true. From a business perspective, our generalization may cause us to miss out on a potential niche market (clothes for tall women), but from a cultural perspective this further impacts the way we may feel about ourselves or anyone in a tail end.  The generalization, though true on average, implies that if men are taller than women, then women who are taller than the average man are somehow not as “womanly.” Similarly, men who are shorter than the average woman may not feel as “manly.”

In business, generalizations are a way of life. We use them constantly to describe our target demographics and their wants and needs which can be quite useful in determining what goods or services to provide. But the key is not to forget that while something may be true for the average customer, there will always be those for whom it isn’t. Knowing the average customer is important, but knowing only the average customer is limiting. By ignoring a tail end, we may miss out on valuable opportunities for inclusion both as businesses and as societies.

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