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  • Hawaii Cupcake Factory

    First off, I must say go girl, Sarah, I hear every bit of this and agree we need to lean way in. Personally I use to find it difficult and just wanted to be accepted and loved by the people working under my supervision and then one day I had a light bulb moment; and it was simple, I said you are a mother of 4 and you don't cut your kids slack why not apply the same rules and principal in decision making in the work place as the boss, treat them with respect, understanding, show compassion when it is needed but stay firm and delegate your wishes/commands. Now I am taking on one of the biggest challenges in life that scares me but I love what I do and hunger for it so badly that I live, breathe, speak and sometimes obsess over owning my own restaurant/cupcake bakery that I have to take a moment and say God is by your side, pinch yourself it is happening, embrace it, enjoy it every step of the way. So to you I say embrace it, we are knocking down those proverbial glass ceiling whether the world is ready or not, we are coming full force and taking our place as business owners and founders.

  • Anne Loehr

    After working in international organizations for over 20+ years, the biggest hurdle for me was owning the fact that I was the boss. I never wanted to appear 'bossy"; I wanted everyone to agree to the solution together. This consensus style works in certain situations, but not all. I had to learn to take tough decisions, which wasn't always easy.

    • Sarah McKinney

      I'm learning this lesson right now as the founder of a company! I still find it difficult, but am getting more comfortable making executive decisions when I have a strong feeling about something, regardless of what collective opinions are. The key for me has been to allow significant time to collect feedback, and make sure all view are heard beforehand. Thanks for sharing your experience - it helps give me the courage to keep working on this!

  • Elizabeth Scala

    I absolutely LOVE your tips for taking action now. I recently have taken time to get quiet, hear my inner self, and live from my own truth. I started with one of your tips I have not done comfortably or confidently before- open and honest dialogue. In the past, I tried to please others, do what I thought they expected, and be careful not to step on any toes. No more! I am finding I am much happier when I am myself. So others can either accept that too- or not. I am me and I love it.

    And I absolutely agree with our words becoming our reality- I have written articles to this concept myself. I heard a nurse at work one day talking down about her life and I thought to myself, "Well, you talk about it enough that way- you make it happen for yourself..."

    Thank you so much for a great post! I enjoyed reading very much.
    Have a healthy day,

    • Sarah McKinney

      Thanks so much Elizabeth - glad to hear you enjoyed the article, and resonated with the 10 tips! Love that you're taking time to tune in and speak your truth - keep at it! :)

  • jacobstackhouse

    This is a great post, thanks for taking the time to write so honestly and thoughtfully.

    I don't pretend to have an answer to the debate but I think the discussion is hindered by its breadth. By centering the discussion around the sex of the person it focuses our attention on biology when, it seems to me, the debate is about culture. Corporate culture to be exact.

    I've worked with men who have many of the emotional traits that are described as "feminine" and they were challenged with many of the same issues of career advancement and recognition that some women are. I've also worked with women who were hyper-demanding and aggressively focused on career growth who found success. I think it's important that the conversation include a focus on shifting corporate culture to be inclusive of an attitudinal spectrum and not be single-minded driven by performance and winning.

    When the debate is about how half the population is treated at the hands of the other half, we lose sight of the true individuality that exists within each sex. For many men and women this forces us into a camp of us vs them. This effect is worsened when generalizations are used to describe the lowest common denominator stereotype of both men and women. The debate becomes about "emotional" vs "aggressive".

    That's a lose lose for everyone. There is no us vs. them ... we're humans. We all have the same chemistry running through brains us just in different measures. We should not lose sight that it is culture that creates the divide. Yes, that cultural divide uses terms of male and female but making it a biological debate of men & women obfuscates real issue and belies the emotional spectrum that is humanity.

    A good examples is the Myers-Briggs test, a popular test used in corporate America that helps group skillsets and define what kind of person you are to work with. It's based on an exhaustive study of personalities and how we, as people interface with the world. It breaks these down in a 4-letter code that represents attributes of who you are. When you look at this test in the context of the feminist debate you should notice one thing. There is no indicator for male or female. Why? because in all the research done to define personality types, sex did not play a large enough role in defining who a person is.

    • Sarah McKinney

      I love your response Jacob - you bring up many valid points! Thanks for participating in the discussion.

  • annalaura.leal

    in an earlier post, I described how things were for me in the 80's and 90's. As a manager in the transportation industry, I made sure to help develop the women I supervised. I am proud to say several went on to management and sales positions in other trucking companies. I am now retired from the tranportation industry and starting my own business as an agent and consultant in logistics.

    It's an excitng time for women entrepreneurs and I wish all of the posters here great success in their endeavours

  • Bradley Urso

    I agree completely and hope that the number of woman entrepreneurs grows. Especially in this period of time when its so accesible to start up a business based on an idea. This article reminded of the Grameen foundation which provides micro loans to woman in some of the poorest countries. I feel like reading about those start ups is always empowering and those woman are rocking it and really taking responsibility for their communities well being as well as their own. So I think your idea is applicable basically everywhere there are people and I love it.

  • Deborah Rothman

    I really like your writing voice and think you make some very good points. But as one who lived through Roe v. Wade, consciousness-raising groups, the fight to pass the Equal Rights Amendment(!!), I am discouraged that we're still having this conversation in the 21st century. I don't think most men are "anti"-women, they're simply not focused on women's issues. So if women don't focus on supporting women--intently, consciously and daily--we will still be in the same place when you're my age. Check out Victoria Pynchon's writing on Forbes Woman. She is wicked smart, and has been thinking, speaking, networking and writing about these issues for years. She has a very different style, but is eminently readable and mad as hell!

    • Sarah McKinney

      Thank you for being a part of a generation that drove such progress for women Deborah! Have you read Sheryl's book yet? One of her core messages is to increase discussion of gender and raise awareness of stereotypes and biases that exist - very aligned with the point you're making. I will for sure check out Victoria Pynchon - thanks for that tip!

  • Rhian Lindley

    I found this post very thought provoking. There are quite a few things I will aim to change from this - starting today!

  • Deb Davis

    The issue I have always had with gender discussions in corporate situations was that it was viewed as naff. I learnt to shut up, because it was seen as emotional. When I became pregnant working for the Murdoch press I hid it for seven months. Once I did tell them they undertook many illegalities.They found ways to discredit my work and forced me to report to another department and go part-time and eventually become a contractor. I was in a difficult situation as I needed the money. I did keep getting different contracts over the years until recently when I overheard this same boss once again discriminating against a woman who was clearly her recently-appointed manager's superior in knowledge, ideas and intellect; but who had been overlooked because she was pregnant. When I was part-time I wasn't part professional. But that was how I was treated. When I was the lead in reports my name was left off, I was no longer able to come to management board meetings and often meetings which were planned on my days off (so I had to pay for more babysitting) were called off at the last minute when I arrived - or worse still I wasn't told at all. So you become less valuable as you are left out of the loop. I tried to do the right thing and not take advantage of the company but I would have been better off staying full-time and just coming and going as I liked to my baby the way many of the editors did.

    • Sarah McKinney

      That sounds beyond frustrating!! So sorry you had to go through that experience, and thank you for sharing it here so other women that may have encountered a similar situation feel less isolated. It's tough in a difficult job market, but the idealist in me thinks people should walk away from any person (or company) that doesn't treat them with respect.

      • Deb Davis

        You are so right. But when you have another person to feed it ain't that easy.

  • Kara Bartelt

    Love this. And love the response to competitiveness -- good advice if it's toward women OR men: "If you feel competitive with another women, reach out and offer to help her out. It’s amazing what counter-action (and a little kindness) can do to dissolve negative feelings." Great advice I'll pass on.

    • Sarah McKinney

      Thanks Kara! I know that one well, and sometimes it feels so unnatural to do ...but it works every time:)

  • Rebecca Rivera

    I'm with you, Sarah. It's easy to play the victim and rail against the system. Much harder to take personal action. As one of the organizers of the 3 Percent Conference which makes a business case for having more women Creative Directors in advertising, I'm a big fan of problem solving workshops and DIY sessions. Hand wringing panels, not so much. I'm also a social entrepreneur, who like you, is doing what I can to help people pool their resources and talents for the good of us all. Looking forward to the launch of AMP. Feel free to follow me @rebrivved if you're so inclined. And thx for the GOOD post.

  • Julie Thorne Engels

    Thanks, Sarah. As the CEO of Bettyvision, I'm grateful for the active dialogue we have of what it means to be a female founder of a tech start-up. Your article creates an accurate snapshot and certainly stimulates conversation as does Sandberg's book, Lean In. Until we invite women (and men) to speak candidly about their firsthand experiences, it's challenging to make in-roads for long overdue change both inside of ourselves and the entrepreneurial eco-system. But to your point, change starts with an idea and a willingness to boldly make it a reality. It is in this pursuit where feminist theory becomes a fact-finding mission. I, for one, am deeply grateful to be in the thick of making my own dream come true and in the same breath paying it forward to help other women achieve the same results.

    • Sarah McKinney

      Beautifully articulated Julie, and I'm with you - paying it forward to help others is what brings me the most joy.

  • gioia.promenade

    Great article!

    'Emotions are basic tools of knowledge. [...] They don't tell you what you are looking at, but how you are looking at it.'

    Marianella Sclavi's other rules of active listening are feminism in action - you can read them all at:

    thank you


    • Sarah McKinney

      "In order to see your point of view, you have to change it." - Love that one Gioia, thanks so much for sharing the link! Sheryl also makes a great point in her book, saying "We cannot change what we are unaware of, and once we are aware, we cannot help but change." That really resonated with me.

  • annalaura.leal

    In the early 90s, I entered the male dominated field of transportation. I wasn't welcomed with open arms by some men, fearing I was going to wussify the work place; however, the few women that were employed in the company were very helpful. I had a wonderful 20 year career and loved every minute.

    This was in stark contrast to the medical and banking industries (which are predominantly women) where I previously worked. The women were brutal, critical of other women when promoted, saying the most vile things about them, undermining their authority. Many times I was privy to women crying in the ladies room over something another woman said to, or about them.

    Women's business groups were more of the same. Giving speeches about women's right to take as much time off as needed to have children, yet demanding their own employees come back within 2-3 weeks after childbirth or lose their jobs. Networking was a joke. When asked for a referal or reference, out came the daggers.

    As a young woman out of college to see the bullying and backstabbing was very intimidating and discouraging to me.

    Seems things haven't changed, as evidenced by the women at the helm of Yahoo and Facebook. As executives, they must be respected for the job they do and challenges they face ; however, they should also respect their employees. But they are not rockstars and should not act as if they are, regardless of how the media portrays them. Their success was not made in a vacuum, it was made possible by the many women who through the years, worked with and for them.

    Very few women help other women achieve success in their career. Many, with their hidden agendas and insecurities, are undesirable mentors for young career professionals.

    Unless and until their attitudes change about other females in the workplace, it will be a continual cat fight which only undermines the business climate and advancement for young career professional women.

    • Deb Davis

      I would like to tell you I have helped many of my female staff who now still have enormously successful careers and even recently thanked me after nearly 20 years. It would be awful to think that there are only mean women. I agree though often the very women you think will be supportive are far less than that. Mostly in the media at least I found that many of the guys in very senior positions were not supportive - but it can all be a case by case situation.

    • Sarah McKinney

      Thanks so much for sharing your story. It's important to acknowledge the challenges we face as women, and that women have been unkind to one another, but I'll steal from what I've heard someone say before which is that "It's great to look at your past, but stop staring at it!" Each one of us can begin shifting the dynamic by being a positive voice and following our own passions. Competition is directly related to our own self-worth I believe that's a good place to start.

  • Dania Miwa

    Great post, and very encouraging on an otherwise rather discouraging Monday morning.

  • LeAnn Locher

    Amen sister. Great article.

  • Michelle Elizabeth

    Great article - thank you so much for sharing! This totally resonates with me right now because I am currently working on starting my own woman's undershirt line that for a long time I have dreamed of doing but was too shy to tell anyone or go for it. As I am working through the process it is scary (the fear of "what will people think!" and "what if it doesn't work out") and I love reading inspiring articles like your to keep me motivated.

    • Sarah McKinney

      Yes!! Go for it Michelle - everything we do is a learning experience, and I'm glad my article could help to keep you moving in the direction your heart is calling you (tell your brain to be quiet!) :)

    • annalaura.leal

      Awesome! Good Luck!! It's an exciting time to start a business and it doesn't matter what people think, it's your dream. And lets say it doesn't work out, at least you took a leap of faith and tried to make your dream a reality. Bravo!

      • Sarah McKinney

        Thank you!! Indeed - I've learned more in the past year than I have in my entire life so, even though I really hope to successfully increase ease of access to high-quality sustainability information and resources with AMP, no regrets regardless of the outcome! Excited to learn from our users once we're live.

        • Michelle Elizabeth

          Thanks!! Good luck to you Sarah! I am sure it will be a success!