Marianne Cooper, Nikki, Wall Street Journal discussed on Tilted: A Lean In Podcast


And I walked into this conference center, and there's probably two hundred and fifty people there, and I was only woman, and I thought to myself that's not right. I mean for this sort of sentiment of being the only thirty years ago is one thing, but to have been the only woman leader in this conference three or four years ago. I felt I felt appalled. I am thrilled to be sitting down today with Marianne Cooper in Lorraine e e two of my co authors on women in the workplace are big study every year in our fantastic partner. Nicky Waller from the Wall Street Journal Marianna sociologist at VM-ware's women's leadership innovation lab at Stanford University and was a lead researcher on the book, lean in Marianne thrilled to have you. It's good to be here. Lorraina senior partner at McKinsey and company and leads the organization's diversity inclusion efforts globally. It's wonderful to be here, and Nikki is editor for live journalism and special coverage at the Wall Street Journal, so she overseas everything the journal does live and is our point person on women in the workplace and has been an amazing partner. So happy to have you. Thanks for having me. So Marianne to kick things off walks through our findings on onlys. So what we learned is that about twenty five percent of employees Corp. In America are the only or one of the only in the room. Meaning the only woman the only person of color in their room. So this both reflects the under representation of these groups and corporate America, but also sets in motion a whole set of negative dynamics. This is research that was pioneered by Rosa Beth moss Kanter, she's a professor at Harvard Business School, and she wrote a book in nineteen seventy seven called men and women of the corporation, which was enough Naga fee of fortune five hundred company and one thing she talks about in her book is the experiences of twenty women. They were in a sales group of three hundred people and these women were scattered across fourteen offices. There's only twenty of them in nineteen seventy seven and she analyzed her experiences. And what she described is that this whole tokenism dynamic place where women weren't seen as individuals that they are they were seen as Representative of all women. And with this happened a few negative things start to her one is that they're highly visible. One woman in a sea of man stands out. She draws a larger share. Really stands out same as when there's only one block person room all white people or any other scenario, we can create where you are the only one you draw larger share of attention, and what then happens is because of that heightened visibility your performance become scrutinized, everything you say do can be put under a microscope, and while you are just an individual person, your individual success or failure can become Representative of your larger group, which means me as an individual woman. My successor performance becomes a litmus test for what women as a group are capable of which raises the stakes on any kind of performance. So that's why we we see only feeling a lot of pressure to perform on guard, and like they're left out the other dynamic that occurs. Is it leads to greater stereotyping? So when there's a team and five of them are women the variation. Among those five women helps to counter generalizations about women. But when there's only one woman, she's a stand standing for all women that actually primes gender stereotypes. So there's greater pressure to conform to expectations traditional feminine expectations. So when a woman only is in that situation, she's expected to conform. And then when she steps outside those gender lines. She gets a lot of pushback. So all that together means it's much worse experience. When you're the the only or one of the only in the room, and that's exactly what our research fines, and how many women are only. One in five women are only forty percent of women in senior roles women in technical roles. Forty five percent of women of color. Thirty five percent of men of color. Seventy six percent of lesbians and seventy percent of Gaiman Llerena. Can you walk through a little bit about what we learned in? While you think it matters short. Let me start with maybe a story a very personal story. So I'm a woman, obviously, also Chinese I'm a woman of color in the United States. There are many times I will walk into a room that has a power dynamic in. And I will be the only one to deliver that your strategy is wrong that you need to change. The course of your portfolio. Investments really hard topics, and it is hard to be the only one it's an incredible experience of both performance pressure at the same time as well as a sense of isolation and people will describe it differently. And what's really interesting is in our data. We give data and facts to something that women experience all the time. The the story that the journal published on this phenomenon had when I first read of the first time my jaw dropped. I mean, what some of these women who are incredibly accomplished women were saying, you know, one thing was it's like, they don't even see you on the one hand, you are so conspicuous because you're the only person who is like you at the table and the other hand people talk right over you. You know, we have someone who was the former presently American Bar Association who was a lawyer for forty years and still regularly gets mistaken for a defendant in the courtrooms that she goes into or juror or stewardess at one point or another. So there's also that there is this assumption that you are not the person that your qualifications determine that you are. And then also when you go kind of off campus. Right. I mean, at least in a meeting. Everybody knows what they're supposed to be doing. And they know what their roles are. And then, you know, the worse has talked to us about go to the company picnic or some dinner and is actually even worse, but people go right back to their social biases. And we have one woman that we talked to you in store marketing director who found herself at a dinner with twelve other male colleagues, and they spend a lot of time talking about labor, and their wives and labor, and what was like the first days of having kids, and she was not asked a question until finally she said, yeah, you know, it was amazing. My child just walked out of my woman, thirty seconds, and that kind of shut it down. But you really have to have that moxie. If you're the only player at the table, I think the concept. Of being invisible invisible. At the same time is really well said, Nikki the one thing that I think is really important for people to realize it also has an impact on how you can perform. So give you an example years ago. I had co-founded ad tech startup. My co founder was a man wonderful, man. And we were on San hill road pitching. And I would do the main presentation I did the dog and pony show. And then we all sat down, and there was a section and after about three or four pitches we were walking out on the sidewalk, and he said to me Rachel, you really let me down like you're not speaking up enough in the post pitch QNA. And I need you to be pulling your weight, and I had a moment of clarity. Where I said to him just watch the next time that we do the pitch like watch. What happens we do it? We get out on the sidewalk, and he says, oh my God. They don't ask you any questions. I can't believe you talk as much as you do. It was completely reframed for him. But it was an issue of performance like he actually thought. I was leading him down and not doing enough when he realized how hard I was working to speak up in contribute to the conversation. Like, his whole sense of my performance change. And I think that's a really big piece here is that organizations need to realize we're not at all saying getting one woman on the team is in a good thing. I mean, we want women at the tables were decisions are made. We want women at the tables where important discussions are being held. But if it's only one woman, she feels isolated and she feels on guard. It's so much harder for her to be her best self into really contribute. It's also interesting how male allies can help. I love that example, because it happens all the time not just in Silicon Valley. But what oftentimes male leaders ask is. What can I do? And they're thinking do I need to change my entire maternity or paternity leave policy, and yes, you should take a look at that. But there are smaller things you can do every single day. You are in a meeting most likely with a single woman multiple times a day make. I'm sure she's heard I was in a meeting and all these guys were talking over. They were so enthusiastic couldn't get an word in edgewise. And finally, one of the senior folks in the room said Lorraine, I think you've been trying to get in there. What's your point view on this and just helped shift the conversation back to me? So I do think there are things that men can do to help in these moments where only are are in the spotlight and having a harder time. Let's talk a little bit about what does the data say. Or what is the data point to in terms of what it looks like day to day to be an only I think one interesting thing is that there is a penalty for companies when women or people of color experience being an only which is they're less likely to feel happy and satisfied in their organization, and they're less likely to stay and if we tie that back to our overall research that says that only two percent of women leave the workforce to take care of their families. That means that when a woman decides to leave she's not leaving to go home. She's leaving to go to your competitor. That's a great point. We also looked at. What are called microaggressions these every day slights or everyday discrimination that women face, and we know only are much more likely to experience these everyday slights Marianne. Can you talk a little bit about like what that looks like microaggressions are behaviors action statements that demean insult and exclude people from underrepresented groups, and it can range from a smaller slight like somebody talking over somebody else. Too much more hostile explicit actions. Like derogatory comments, but the intent of these actions and behaviors whether intentional or unintentional is that it communicates underrepresented groups often that they're less competent, and that they don't belong and their repeated and regular they happen all the time in team meetings often every day, it can even happen for people, and they add up and over time with this means is that people are dealing with feeling devalued overlooked, and they're they pay a price for that both emotionally and professionally it's exhausting taxing for them on a day to day. Basis. So we know that men are only two what does that experience? Look like. So then portent thing understand about the experience of being the only one is it's not just about low numbers. It's about the intersection between low numbers and low status. And other words, the reason why people are having these worst experiences not just because they're the only one, but they're the only one of a lower status group. So for example, research has shown that when white men are tokens, it's not so bad actually, a colleague of mine Christine Williams at UT in Austin, did this groundbreaking steady of white men who work in nursing a woman dominated occupation. And what she found is that because of gendered expectations that men are more competent and often better at leadership. They were writing what she called the glass. Escalator people made the assumption and made the mistaken assumption that they were doctors. So they benefited from that my other colleague Edina Harvey Wingfield at university of Washington in Saint Louis studied black men working in nursing. Saying they didn't get to ride that glass escalator instead of being mistaken for doctors. They were mistaken as janitors so they had a much more negative experience. And we're seen as less skilled unless competent women counterparts. So when low numbers interact with low status, that's when you get the negative experience of being an only. I'm

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