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‘Lean in’ to this world?

A friend and fellow business woman just sent me a link to this video featuring Paul Tudor Jones, a billionaire trader and the founder of Tudor Investment Corporation and is valued at USD 3.3 billion by Forbes Magazine and ranked as the 107th richest American and 336th richest in the world (source: Wikipedia). While I am sure trading is a difficult job and it requires an intense level of dedication, I still can’t understand how his words “As soon as that baby’s lips touched that girl’s bosom, forget it.” or the additional “reasoning” (I use this term loosely) that he uses. Not only is his response creepy, it sounds like it was made in 1970 when women had babies at an early age and were lucky to leave a job of getting coffee for the male boss to raise a family. The question asked by the moderator was not even in reference to women—it was in reference to diversity.

Watch the video here.

I must say, it got my blood boiling.

While I never considered myself a feminist until recently, I have always had the utmost respect for women, their talents, and innate skills. I was on teams in high school, and had (still do!) amazing female friends. I joined a sorority while in college, and I landed in a career where many of my counterparts were female. I truly believe women are capable of (almost) anything, and that they make the world better when they have seats at the decision making tables. This should not diminish the value, talents, or skills of men in any way. I also love men—my father and grandfather are amazing role models. My husband is the greatest partner in our life together that I could ask for. Many of my close friends growing up (and still) are men–my brother, my cousin, the list could go on and on of important men in my life.

I first started seeing myself as a feminist while I was working up the corporate ladder. The higher I got, the fewer women I saw. My male counterparts were given stretch assignments or promotions without an interview process, while the women that I worked with were placated with small incentives to keep them happy in their basic roles. I was on interview panels to promote employees in which female characteristics (giving praise to the team, being less vocal about accomplishments, etc.) were perceived as a negative. In one case, a man from HUMAN RESOURCES highly criticized a team member that had just had a baby and completed a phone interview for not being “as thorough as he would have liked.” The fact that she had delivered a baby a few days prior and had not enjoyed a good night’s sleep for at least a  month seemed like a fair enough reason to give her the benefit of the doubt to me. If this is the “bond” that Paul Tudor Jones refers to in this video clip, lack of sleep is not permanent and should not be a concern for a trader’s ability to perform in the long term.

As Sheryl Sandberg addresses in her book Lean In, there are statistics detailing the entrenched cultural views that impact women throughout their lives—based on my experiences these are much more powerful than the fact that women are not “leaning in” enough.

While I was pregnant, I actually considered not applying for a promotion because I thought it would factor into whether I would receive the promotion or not. My concerns had nothing to do with whether I could actually get the job done. I was advised by a female leader (who I greatly respect) to keep my pregnancy quiet—she had the same concerns for me and the impact this news might have on me getting promoted. Wow… a great “equal” world we live in right? One you really want to “lean in” to, right?

After realizing I was a square peg in a round hole of sports analogies, discussions of what “she” wanted in reference to our female customer base, and guys that “shot hoops” together at lunch time or “grabbed beers” together after work, I knew it wasn’t a fit for me. While I don’t think any of these men wanted to discriminate against women, their perspective was different than mine. Their wives had traded in their careers to work full time at raising their children.

I liked handling millions of dollars in business. I loved leading my team and helping my team members achieve their goals. I loved earning a salary and knowing that I could support myself if something ever happened to my husband. I loved contributing to our household financial goals. It also helped that I had a baby who screamed at me all day as the alternative (colicky babies are fun, right?).

Realizing I would never fit in this system, I left my job to try create an alternative. I started a company to try to create opportunities for women using what I know (my career is in retail) and support women in business. It seems that everyone is talking about what needs to happen to create opportunity for women, but to me, we women have to make it happen for ourselves and our fellow women. This requires us to support one another and take action, not just talk about it–whether that be in the corporate grid that narrowly defines us, in our homes where we raise our children, or in our communities where women are trying desperately to build businesses that will be taken seriously.

Instead of trying to navigate a system that is broken and filled with billionaires like of Paul Tudor Jones at the top of organizations, I wonder what life is like for women who create a system that truly works for women.  I hope I will be able to find out–and I hope it’s not 20 more years from now.

Want more statistics on women in leadership? See these blog posts: Pledge to Lift Up Women, Inspired to Vote, or My Dream for Ella which is this mother’s hope for her daughter.

Want a contrasting view that says Paul Tudor Jones isn’t part of the problem, click here.

I’d love to hear your thoughts….

A USA manufacturing advocate, an idealist, a champion for women, a believer in good, a corporate survivor, a spreadsheet and organizational junkie, a healthy living proponent, a wife, a mother, and an entrepreneur. She took her 15 years of retail and corporate merchandising experience, coupled her passion for the American dream and hard-working women, mixed in an inspiring figure (Rosie the Riveter of course), and created rosieMADE LLC. Find on .

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5 Comments

  1. Alison - May 27, 2013, 1:07 am Reply

    All I can say is – thank goodness we have women like you championing the woman’s rights for equal treatment!

    Stopping by from SITS.

    • Alicia Vanderschuere - May 28, 2013, 12:22 pm Reply

      Alison, Thanks for stopping by and for your support! I really appreciate it!

  2. Nancy Buffington - June 4, 2013, 10:48 am Reply

    excellent post, Alicia! The problems you write about are clearly widespread even today, and aren’t limited to the business world. I was once “let go” from an academic administrative job two days before Christmas, when my son was four months old. According to a female colleague who interviewed to replace me, my former boss asked her, “you don’t plan to have any babies, do you?” She wouldn’t take the job–and it was offered to a man.

  3. Kimberly Kline - June 5, 2013, 7:52 am Reply

    Wonderful! I, too, believe that “leaning in” is not the answer. I don’t want to lean into a system that is so fatally flawed. Instead, creating a new system (or at least one I and other women can operate in) is a much more desirable goal.

  4. rosieMADE - June 5, 2013, 8:41 am Reply

    Thanks for the comments! It’s great to know people agree or to hear them talk about their situations! Thank you!

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