Joann Lublin examines the top leading businesswomen
While women have made their way to the top of the business world, there is still work to be done before workplace gender gaps are closed, according to Joann S. Lublin.
Lublin, the Management News editor of the Wall Street Journal and mother of a Heller School alumna, came to the University to report her discoveries from her 2016 book “Earning It: Hard-Won Lessons from Trailblazing Women at the Top of the Business World.”Her book reports the leadership lessons of 52 female high-corporate executives, recounting the challenges they faced inside and outside of the workplace to earn their way to the top of the corporate ladder.
Lublin’s drive to report the subject stemmed from a Wall Street Journal blog post she wrote for her daughter in 2008, titled “Remember the Barriers.” “She had sort of what I felt [was] a rose-eyed view as to what the life was going to be for working women, and I wanted her to understand that not everything had been fixed — that there were a lot of women who had worked very hard to make things better for women in the workplace that she should understand,” said Lublin.
Working in an office of seven men as the first woman reporter hired at the Wall Street Journal’s San Francisco Bureau in 1971, “some of the things I experienced early on were shocking,” Lublin said. Having had her own early career obstacles in proving her credibility and spending 20 years covering management issues in the workplace, Lublin took it upon herself to record the achievement stories of the nation’s best corporate executives.
Lublin said she noticed three major themes in her interviews, two-thirds of which had to do with public company chief executives. These women had to learn “how you can earn the pay you truly deserve, how to earn credibility from skeptical colleagues [and] how you can earn greater power from accepting a risky role.”
Even today, challenges persist for the average working woman. Citing a 2016 report from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, Lublin explained that women will not achieve pay equality until 2059, per recent trends. Additionally, the typical working woman loses more than $530,000 over her lifetime due to the gender wage gap, with a higher education level correlating with greater losses.
Another report from the New York Times, said Lublin, shows that college-educated women earn 97 cents on the dollar compared to their male colleagues up and through their twenties. However, by the age of 25, women begin to make 15 percent less, on average. The peak of women’s earnings begins to plateau in the mid-forties, while earnings steadily increase for men until the end of their career.
The lesson here, said Lublin, is that women must be “good pay negotiators when they can recognize the value they have and they make it visible.”
Often, Lublin said, women have subconscious tendencies to give themselves reasons that they cannot do a job, while men with the same ability have “no sweat” attitudes. “If you get out of your comfort zone, you’re going to develop those leadership muscles,” Lublin said, adding, “It’s equally important to only accept a risky role after you look at the downsides and upsides and make sure you know about how your boss defines success.”
In her book, Lublin also explicates on the “glass cliff phenomenon,” when a corporate project goes wrong and the woman gets blamed solely because she is a woman, rather than management properly assessing the quality of communication she was given to do her job.
Parallel to this, Lublin said chief executive women operate in a much larger “glass house” of performance expectancies than male CEOs do. “A male CEO of a public company is operating 24/7. You’re always on, you’re always being subject to scrutiny, but it’s probably a two story glass house. If you’re a female CEO of a public company, it’s probably a skyscraper,” she said.
However, Lublin remains optimistic, as the women she interviewed were able to demonstrate that “if you prove you have the right stuff again and again, … we’re going to see a day when that glass ceiling is going to disappear. Men and women alike are going to smash that ceiling. … And when that ceiling is smashed, we’re going to see an amazing transformation.”
Lublin also acknowledged the fact that these 52 powerful women took time out of their busy lives to share their stories. This, she said, shows the intention to uplift the next generation of working women. “We have an obligation to return it so that other women who want to earn it can earn it too, and that’s what I’m doing with this book,” she said.