Panel Examines Challenges and Opportunities for Women in the Workforce
As they enter the workforce, professional women make up more than 40% of employees at U.S. firms. Move up the ladder, though, and the number shrinks, from 33% at the managerial level to only 21% among executives. These numbers were the launching point for a panel discussion on the future of women in the workplace, sponsored by the Women in Management club, at Yale SOM on November 2.
Adriana Mochon '11, who is head of global HR strategy and planning for the professional division at Thomson Reuters and returned to SOM for the panel, kicked off the conversation on ways to improve the number of women in senior roles in organizations. "The female talent pipeline is strong at the entry levels, but then drops off significantly," she said. "The interesting question is really whether these numbers are changing rapidly enough. Research indicates that female talent still falls off the management ladder due to relatively lower promotion rates and higher attrition."
Three Thomson Reuters executives joined Mochon at the event: Carol Fox YC '92, vice president of the office of the CEO; Molly Tu, director of sales, operations, and strategy; and Yelena Ree, a second-year management associate and captain of Thomson Reuters' recruiting team for Yale. Fox and Tu led the panel discussion and spoke of their own experiences in the business world, offering advice to the young women in the audience. Tu, who grew up in China, said that she has seen opportunities for women there and in the Unites States increase over the years, both through the efforts of previous generations of women and through more men becoming advocates for their advancement. But whether it's women leaving jobs to start families or women's difficulty finding sponsors within a company, barriers still exist. Fox said that even when an organization has a mentorship program, women are often less likely to build the kind of relationships with senior executives that lead to their advancement. "The key is to forge informal mentoring relationships that are directly connected to your work and projects," she said, "because that's what leads to sponsorship, where an executive will actively promote you."
Tu added that women need to be confident and very proactive when it comes to managing their careers. "You need to be creative because there's no set model," she said. "The fact is there are still fewer women executives who can guide us, so it's up to us to do it."