The three women driving today's gender debate

The three women driving today's gender debate
Whitney Johnson and Lisa Joy Rosner take a look at the public perception of Marissa Mayer, Sheryl Sandberg, and Anne-Marie Slaughter as judged by social media buzz (via the HBR).

Whitney Johnson and Lisa Joy Rosner take a look at the public perception of Marissa Mayer, Sheryl Sandberg, and Anne-Marie Slaughter, as judged by social media buzz (via the HBR).

Working women have been calling for more seats in the boardroom, more days of paid maternity leave, more corner offices, more money, and more — well, more! for a long time. So why does it seem like we've only now reached a dull roar on these issues — maybe even what some are calling the rise of "executive feminism"? And can we see signals in the noise?

To explain the sudden surge of discussion on this topic, look to the magic of three: Marissa Mayer, Sheryl Sandberg, and Anne-Marie Slaughter. Would any one of these women been sufficient to jump-start the conversation on their own? No. Slaughter, Sandberg and Mayer are at different stages of their careers and lives, and have very different ideas around a woman's relationship to work and home. It's not despite, but because of, these different stances that they are moving the conversation forward. And so often when someone is talking about one of the three on social media, at least one or both of the other are mentioned. This is one of the reasons research has found that in order to experience the benefits of diversity (better risk management, higher creativity, etc) on a board you need three women; one or even two aren't enough to create real change. You need critical mass, but you also need each woman to feel like she's advocating her point of view — not "Woman's Point of View."

[read more]