The Truth is Out: We Know Why there aren't More Women on Boards
Some of them are personal and some of them are systemic. They usually overlap, which is why we used to say “the personal is the political."
I don’t like to focus too much on problems we can’t control, implied bias and the like, because I believe there are enough women in power today to bring the female ying to the male yang of corporate power without any special privileges or legal mandates.
All of that said, the real reason there aren’t more women on Boards is that there are not enough of us who believe we’re qualified to serve.
The Low Self-Esteem Girls’ Club
When I was practicing law at the top of my profession with other women at the top of theirs, we used to joke among ourselves that we were all charter members of the Low Self-Esteem Girls’ Club.
Only later would I realize the deep truth of the matter and the way my lack of confidence held me back from seeking an ownership interest in my last law firm. I left my blood, sweat and tears in the walls of more AmLaw100 firms than I care to recall. And, frankly, it was mostly my fault.
Yesterday, I wrote a lengthy piece about Maria Klawe, President of Harvey Mudd College, a member of the prestigious Claremont Colleges just east of Los Angeles. Maria is not, nor do I believe she has ever been, a member of the Low Self-Esteem Girls’ Club. And today, she’s one of two women on Microsoft’s Board of Directors.
There are Too Many Superstars and Not Enough Highly Competent Women in Seats of Power
When we meet the Maria Klawes of the world – women who rise to the very top of their professions – we too often convince ourselves that we’ve got to be world-changing superstars to become GC of a Fortune 500 firm, CEO of a top tech firm in the Silicon Valley, or Managing Partner of an AmLaw 10 firm.
As a Forbes blogger, I’ve called dozens of men and women for comment on newsworthy events within their expertise. More than half of the ridiculously highly qualified women I spoke with told me they weren’t expert enough to comment.
No man has ever said that to me even when he was far less qualified than the women who’d demurred on the ground that they were not good enough.
As my friend the leadership consultant and ForbesWoman blogger Gloria Feldt reminds me, only 15% of all op-ed pieces in the mainstream media are written by women because women submit only 15% of all op-ed pieces to the mainstream media.
As we used to say, “click.”
[While you're at it, buy and read Feldt's No Excuses - Nine Ways Women Can Change the Way We Think About Power]