Nevertheless, She Persisted: A book review by Bob Morris

Nevertheless, She Persisted: True Stories of Women Leaders in Tech
Pratima Rau Gluckman
FriesenPress (April 2018)

“Champions get up when they can’t.”  Jack Dempsey

Warren Buffett once observed, “Chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken.” The same can be said of gender biases such as assumptions that almost all women lack “the right stuff” to be effective C-level executives and/or women lack sufficient aptitude in mathematics and science. Pratima Rau Gluckman was well aware of these gender biases while growing up and later decided to interview women who “got up” not once but several times, whose persistence enabled them to become high-impact leaders in technology. 

Gluckman accumulated an abundance of information, insights, and counsel from in-depth interviews of 19 women and then shares what she learned in this book. “Although I would have liked to talk to women CEOs, I realized they were few in number, and I knew it would be hard to get onto their busy schedule. Once Gluckman had a sufficient number of senior level women, she formulated a list of questions such as those identified on Pages xxix-xx. “The two primary audiences for this book are young women who are considering careers in technology and established women in the technological field” but she hopes her book will also be of substantial interest and value “to many people from other walks of life.”

Having read and then re-read this book, I think it can also be of substantial interest and value to  men who can helped to increase women’s access opportunities, beginning with income equality. The number of single parents who are male continues to increase so I’m all for equality there in terms of benefits and special consideration. Also, obviously, this book will help male supervisors to become much more effective advocates for equality of career opportunity and of course income.

Personal digression: Why have there been so few female CEOs thus far? I think it’s access denial that can be traced back to when students begin to study mathematics and natural sciences in schools and then in college when young women begin to consider their major field of study. I grew up at a time when blacks were denied access to playing quarterback in high school. Same mindset, different application. You see where I am going with this.

Gluckman devotes a separate chapter to each of her 19 primary sources. These are among the hundreds of observations that caught my eye:

“Women leave the technology field at twice the rate of men, so it’s not just getting women into the pipeline — it’s about creating cultures where women thrive, which means, compared to today, the culture of the future is going to look significantly different.” Telle Whitney (Page 9)

“Always push your limits. Look for assignments or goals that will take you to the next level; don’t be afraid to challenge and stretch yourself. Women often feel like they have to know everything before they take on opportunity, whereas men just jump into it. Raise your hand more often, and if you don’t know something, trust that you will learn.Sometimes, the only way to learn something is on the job.” Shilpa Lawande (109)

” There has to be an education and mindset shift in all leaders, both men and women around the fact that a more diverse team is a better team.  Women think differently, they work differently, they have a different angle when they work a problem, and this difference is good, not bad.” Christine Martino (148)

“There is always going to be something hanging over a woman making it harder for her, which is just her gender. Even when you achieve success, there is still something holding you down. It doesn’t matter where you are in your career — you are still going to hit that ceiling.” Pam Kostka (191)

“I’ve always had an affinity for equality but came to recognize it as a necessity when I served as chief scientist. I were much stronger when they had a good percentage of women in them.” we need more people with expertise in a particular area in order to retain a constant pool of human capital in times of economic growth. Consequently, I started viewing diversity from an economic perspective, rather than just from a justice and equality perspective. I found that teams were much stronger when they had a good percentage of women in them.” Orna Berry  (245)

Pratima Rau Gluckman’s concluding thoughts include these: “Throughout this book, there are two consistent lessons. First, persist. Regardless of what society expects of you or tells you to do, persist with your own vision of what you want to achieve in your life. The tailwinds of persistence will help you soar. The second lesson is that we all have the power to change the world for someone else. If each one of us makes it a point to intervene in one woman’s life, we can get there slowly but surely — one woman at a time.”

I presume to add one final point, provided by Margaret Mead: “Always remember that you are absolutely unique. Just like everyone else.”

 

 

 

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