Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Strong correlation between female senior executives and strong financial performance

A piece of research by McKinsey suggests that there is a strong correlation between having high numbers of women senior executives and stronger financial performance. Companies with this make-up also have a stronger opportunity to draw from a larger talent pool as talent is in short supply.
Unfortunately I don't have access to the research at the moment, but I will be on the look out for additional quotes from this particular study. It's not the first time there have been positive correlations between financial performance and having women senior executives in the company. However the more data we have to support this situation the better and the more diverse the types of company the better. The previous research I saw was based primarily on the financial industry.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

More Products Aim at Female Audience

Oooooh two new products targeted at women, how do you like them?
First is a wrist watch from Sony Ericsson that has built-in blue tooth. As someone who still doesn't really use a cell phone (long story, but so far has worked to my advantage) I'm not sure how to rate it, however the features are cool in the way that I use to think being a spy could be a glamorous adventurous job - I'd glance at my watch to see who is calling on the phone. It will also vibrate when a text is sent, and can hook up to a blue-tooth ear piece to accept a call. However I'm not entirely sure on the watch design - I may lack cell phone cool, but I happen to be a watch wearer and these don't really hit my bar for trendy watches. HOWEVER - I credit companies for trying to address the female audience, we're a tough crowd but when they get fashion and technology in sync someone is going to have a huge success.
Next up is Audio Technica headphones, they claim designed for women. They come in an array of different colors, and colorful tins to keep the earbuds in. They claim to be with 'superior comfort designed for women' but the proof is in women finding them comfortable - I would hate to think someone launched into a new range of hardware without considering the anthropomorphic differences of the audience they're targeting.
So two product areas where companies are trying to blend technology and fashion to address women. I'd like to meet their engineering/design teams to understand the gender mix of the groups - are these products designed by men for women, or mix gender teams?
Bottom-line -- keep trying the innovations aimed at women, I really appreciate it.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Traditional views of women's roles by men have implications for women's careers

As this research is out there I feel I need to comment on it, though I have a lot of questions about the sample of the population studied and details of the study. Research from the University of Florida reports that men with more traditional views of women will get higher pay than men with more gender equality views.
I would be interested to delve into their political beliefs and also the type of homes they grew up in and the roles their parents played (both working or not, single). I would also like to see information on salaries that compare women with stay-at-home husbands compared to women with working husbands. I have been surprised by how many senior women I've met whose husband are at home.
The participants in the study are between 39 and 47 years old. They had to rate statements on gender roles. The difference in salary was$8500 between men with a traditional view, and those with less traditional views.
In a less generous mood I might wonder how many women did these men step on to move on up the ladder, and how many are they blind to potential to grow after them. This does have implications for impacting women's careers but I need to see the complete study to know what we're truly discussing here.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

College Can be Dangerous for Your Confidence

This article relates closely to the previous posting that women could so benefit from a boost in their confidence. They can do it, they really can but for some reason we keep under playing our abilities because of our lack of confidence. Take a look at this article by Kathy Wyer she reports on some research at UCLA on academic accomplishments, abilities, and personal traits. Linda J. Sax, associate researcher, has been reviewing the data - men are entering college in fewer numbers and less academically engaged, but during the college experience become strongly influenced by academic faculty and develop intellectual self-confidence at a greater rate to women. I'm interested to know more about how she evaluates academic ability and self-confidence - during the college years from her research it appears to impact gender, what does the growth look like after a few years in the work place?
Linda draws several conclusions from her research related to several areas including: academic engagement, interaction with faculty, health and well-being, staying close to home, and selection of majors and careers. Her research can be found in her recent published book: The Gender Gap in College: Maximizing the Potential of Women and Men.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Wait a Minute - Where are the Women Going?

After growing in number for a few years the number of female CEOs in the Bay Area is declining. Why is this?
Fewer women received venture capital funding in 2007, and there are fewer women in CEO positions, only 13 in the bay areas largest 400 companies/Fortune 500 companies. The article published in the San Francisco Business Times, by Lindsay Riddell. They quote Wendy Beecham as saying more women are opting out than there were 10 years ago. They also quote that percentage of female CEOs receiving venture capitalist funding was at 3% for 2007. Why don't more women receive funding?
Two issues come up - first, when asking venture capitalists who do they lend money too - they say people they know - because women have smaller networks that automatically reduces the number of women who are going to get an opportunity to get funding. A second issue is also how big a game you talk. Women are more likely to be conservative with their success estimates, thus putting them in a less strong position when negotiating and trying to win funding.
So the numbers for 2007 map to a story we have heard before: we need to get out and network with all that will be useful to us, not just women, AND next time up our success capability.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Lighting Up Fashion With Technology

I discovered some inspiring work today, or rather a creative friend pointed me to the work of Leah Buechley. She's currently a PhD student at the University of Boulder. Her area of focus is to combine technology and textiles and what super creations she's coming up with, and she's also making it approachable for others.
Some of her projects use fabric-based iron-on circuits also known as 'fabric PCBs' (Printed circuit boards), some small electronic sequins. Its a wonderful creative combination of sewing craft and technology.
I love her efforts to make accessible science with textile with such projects as math handbags, where she offered a Science Discover workshop for 11-14 year old students could use her graphing program to create their own math graph bags and other items.
Leah's philosophy of wanting to combine science and technology with more 'feminine' activities (as she puts it) is close to my own intentions. In the summer I blogged about the concern I had when my kids at science camp were becoming bored of boats, boats, boats, or planes, planes, planes, they needed more of Leah's philosophy injected into the plan.
I can not do justice to the breadth of inventiveness of Leah's work and highly recommend taking a look at her projects including LED clothing, sewing circuits, quilt snaps, LED bracelets. I myself might actually invest in some of the electronic sequins - my girls would certainly love to have something other than buttons on the clothes I make for them (btw I am not the dress maker my mother was but can just about sew a dress but my speciality is Halloween costumes where impression over accuracy is what matters!).

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Yes, Yes - More Thoughtful Efforts on Technologies for Women!

It was fun to read the blog posting yesterday, 'No Pink Phones - A New Twist on Technology for Women'. I have tried to keep my blog postings also free of pink-ness where possible, because making a current technology pink doesn't mean to say it's addressing the womens market.
I credit Dr. Ying Chen for setting up La-Yin with putting her action where her heart is and setting up her own business to, 'create experiences for modern women by fusing High-Tech together with fashion and style'. The products from La-Yin currently includes different styles of USB keys, laptop covers, mobile straps.
It would be wondeful to see some of this exterior technology style influence the technology itself. What are womens needs of the items that we are attracted to dress up. For instance consider the Amazon Kindle (reader), imagine if that was designed for a female audience how might it differ in design? are there any distinct features or aesthetics that should be considered differently to accomodate needs? I haven't yet had an opportunity to use one, however what I'd like to see again is if the product team was predominantly female in the first place and considering a predominantly female market how may the product have emerged differently. Today its often consideration after the fact. Take a look at the Kindle and see how you might design it differently.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Through the Glass Ceiling and You May Face a Glass Cliff

An article in Business Week refreshes the notion that women in top positions sometimes find themselves facing glass cliffs, a term coined by a paper from 2005. They explain that there is more attention on women that fail, but critics sometimes fail to acknowledge that the situation the woman entered was already a tough situation where a company was in decline. When women are struggling to 'right the ship' it is difficult. Women are often isolated in their position of leadership with less mentors and a smaller network to leverage to weather the storm.
So the next time you hear about a senior woman being dismissed or relegated remember to ask yourself what the situation was like before they entered the position. Remember to give them a second chance. A significant portion of women in science, engineering and technology feel that when they fail they rarely get a second chance.

Mentoring Women Across Countries

I am always pleased to read about programs like this: Northwood University mentoring helps Afghan women better market their goods and ideas. There are so many women in the world that are trying to make a living (and lets remember a living in many countries is just that - enough money to feed their family and keep them sheltered). A small amount of mentoring can make a big difference to how successful their businesses can be. In this article Zainul Arab Meire, from Afghanistan is learning to that should can make products from beeswax such as hand cream and lip gloss to make additional money than that from honey which she sells in Kabul. There are also women attending the mentoring course who are working in construction industry as well.
Small gestures of mentoring can have large impact of women's lives when they return to their countries.