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Published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on February 2, 2000. All rights
Mommy Track, Or Off the Track?
Women are climbing up the corporate ladder and entering
fields previously dominated but men, but is the new, pro-women
policy really helping?
Day care and flex-time, for example, are becoming chic in many big
corporations, but recent studies show that women are not readily
on board, says Mary Hartman, director of the Institute for
Leadership at Douglas College. "What’s being discovered by
like Catalyst is that women aren’t taking advantage of these mommy
track situations because they tend to think it throws them off
she says. "Yes, they have an opportunity to stay home three times
a week, but they feel that they’re taking themselves out of the
for leadership positions. And they’re probably right. Corporations
have made the options available but they haven’t done it with a whole
heart. Women can see through what’s going on here."
Women who opt to join small businesses may find the options for career
and family life even more grim, especially at some of the Internet
start-ups where putting in 18-hour days is the norm. "The whole
lifestyle involved in the information technology jobs seems to be,
according to recent studies, one that is more compatible to the
of a single male or someone without family responsibilities,"
On both fronts, big corporations and small businesses, women still
face many challenges to getting ahead and assuming leadership roles,
says Hartman, who explores "Women in Leadership" on Thursday,
February 10, at 12:15 p.m. at the Industrial/Commercial Real Estate
Women’s meeting at the Newark Marriott. Call 973-325-2700, extension
124. Cost: $45.
At the Institute for Women’s Leadership, Hartman works with students,
faculty, and business people to conduct research and seminars on how
women are faring in careers, business, politics, and home life.
women are getting more opportunities than ever before, Hartman
there’s still much to be done. Case in point: only one percent of
the top level positions at Fortune 500 companies are occupied by
"One of the initiative we have is to change these numbers, to
enhance mentoring opportunities, and to encourage women to be aware
of what’s out there, what different corporations are doing to
work-family relations," she says.
A historian by trade, Hartman came to Rutgers after earning a BA in
history from Swarthmore College, Class of 1963, and a PhD from
She also wrote a book on Victorian murderesses and edited a book on
women’s history when the subject was still quite new. She was dean
of Douglas College between 1982 and 1994.
The Institute’s signature book, "Talking Leadership," is
of a series of interviews with a handful of women leaders, from
Todd Whitman to Bell Hooks, the feminist scholar, memoirist,
and social critic. The interviews reveal that women have been
different skills and also changing the way leadership is defined.
"Most of those women we interviewed spent years in roles that
nobody would have thought of as leadership roles, but they made a
difference," Hartman says. "Women have led for as long as
men have led — in families and in communities. But leadership
is a term co-opted by business and management — equating good
management with good leadership — when good management and good
leadership are not always the same things. I think that the whole
definition of leadership is changing."
Today’s leaders, says Hartman, are not best defined by title, but
by their influence and relationship with others. "I like the idea
that followers and leaders are together in this thing," she says,
"not that leaders go out on a white horse, so to speak, and
the troops. Leaders may emerge in different areas. You don’t have
a single leader all the time."
Among the women leaders that the Institute has interviewed, there
were a few common threads. Hartman gives the following advice:
are "figuring out what part of the world they want to change,
and then figuring out how they want to get it done," she says.
"The way the world is doesn’t have to be the world will always
as a leader you’re not going to be as effective as you would be,"
to change the agenda. "I think we see that on the state level,
where more attention is paid to women’s issues and women’s
she says. "We are trying to improve girls’ involvement with
and technology. There’s a larger issue of whether we’re encouraging
men to be more involved in science and technology than women. When
you see how much of the future seems to be bound up in careers in
this area we have to make sure women are not left behind."
— Melinda Sherwood
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