Rutgers’ Mary Hartman

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Published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on February 2, 2000. All rights

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Mommy Track, Or Off the Track?

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Rutgers’ Mary Hartman

Women are climbing up the corporate ladder and entering

fields previously dominated but men, but is the new, pro-women

corporate

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

jumping

on board, says Mary Hartman, director of the Institute for

Women’s

Leadership at Douglas College. "What’s being discovered by

organizations

like Catalyst is that women aren’t taking advantage of these mommy

track situations because they tend to think it throws them off

track,"

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

running

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

lifestyle

of a single male or someone without family responsibilities,"

says Hartman.

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.

Although

women are getting more opportunities than ever before, Hartman

believes

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

women.

"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

encourage

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

Columbia.

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

comprised

of a series of interviews with a handful of women leaders, from

Christine

Todd Whitman to Bell Hooks, the feminist scholar, memoirist,

and social critic. The interviews reveal that women have been

developing

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

organize

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:

Focus on vision, not so much technique. Women leaders

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

be."

Call yourself a leader. "If you don’t think of

yourself

as a leader you’re not going to be as effective as you would be,"

she says.

Women who claim leadership for themselves have a real

opportunity

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

health,"

she says. "We are trying to improve girls’ involvement with

information

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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