When I started in the investment management business, it was not uncommon to be the only woman at a conference or meeting. Academically speaking, many of the women with whom I interacted were just as qualified as the men who occupied the majority of senior positions. Fast forward to 2012, and I now see increasing numbers of women holding senior positions in financial service and other organizations, as well as many women are enrolling in what was the academic bastion of men—engineering, accounting, business, and finance.
While academic progress is being made, equal pay for equal work is still a problem. It is up to senior leadership to hold on to the talent emerging from our educational institutions. True leaders should want the brightest minds in their organization regardless of gender.
I come from a family of trendsetting women. My aunt went to law school with Geraldine Ferraro and my mother was an elementary school teacher who instilled in me a love of lifelong learning. My parents raised me to believe that gender was not a barrier to achieving my goals. My father told me that I could be anything I wanted to be provided that my ambition was solidly grounded in education from a respected school. I have encountered biases and discrimination, but it has only inspired me to work harder.
As a mother and a professional, I have learned how best to make work and home fit. Author Cali Yost coined the phrase “Work+Life Fit,” and it is a principle that I subscribe to. It is about finding the right fit for you. There are trade-offs, but I do my best to be at the critical company events as well as events my children consider most important to them.
Along with my other partners, we have built a company that embraces family. Positions in the company, and the
compensation that goes with them, are dictated by the level of responsibility, not the gender of the person holding that position. While no system is perfect, it is incumbent upon senior leadership to continue to push for diversity, fairness, and intellectual rigor in the workplace.
In the long run, our lives are shaped by the choices we make—personal, professional, and academic. The best advice I can give a young woman today is to stop focusing on the glass ceiling. Get the best education you can afford, and let the focus be on you. Find your passion, work hard at it, own it, and I assure you the rest will fall into place.