“If we don’t seize the opportunities we have at a young age to ‘take the stage’ how are we preparing ourselves for the future? And what are we doing about setting the stage for the generation after us?”
…asks SWSG volunteer and trainer Erica Dhawan in “Gen Y Women Need to Take the Stage,” her recent article for the  Huffington Post. After attending a Harvard and Radcliffe symposium titled “The New Majority? Past, Present and Future of Women in the Workplace,” led by a panel of white-women baby-boomers, Dhawan asserts that women’s forums and conferences can be doing more to support Gen Y women in exploring “novel pathways of building families and [integrating] family and work.” In support of this effort, Dhawan herself helped to organize a Gen Y women presence at the TEDxWomen event in December 2011.
Dhawan continued the conversation about women and leadership in a piece for Forbes: “How Women Executives Who Leave Their Roles Affect the Next Generation of Women Leaders.” She explores the problematic separation of private and professional selves for women business leaders:
“We do a disservice to the business world by buying into the media’s negative portrayal of women executives. We accept these portrayals because it is easy — it takes real work to investigate, read, and interpret with caution. We must acknowledge there is a hidden private persona behind each woman executive.”
Dhawan cites the example of Erin Callan, the former Chief Financial Officer of Lehman Brothers, where she was also Dhawan’s senior mentor in 2007. Callan hit a “glass cliff” at Lehman, as she was brought in as CFO when it was already too late to steer the firm away from eventual bankruptcy. Dhawan explains that the media’s “harsh and flashy” portrayal of her leadership following her departure gave no hint of the “loyalty, commitment, and high achievement” she displayed in private. These stories are all too common and highly concentrated among all-too-rare women business leaders. So, read the full article, then consider: how can today’s women leaders be “of service,” as Dhawan writes, to the next generation of women leaders?
Erica Dhawan is a writer, researcher, speaker, and consultant on leadership, Gen Y, and women. She has been named a World Economic Forum Global Shaper, Aspen Institute Socrates Society member, TEDxManhattan fellow, and MIT Legatum fellow. Check out Erica’s blog and follow her on Twitter at @edhawan.