Monthly Archives: October 2010

Want to Help Change the World? Read Half the Sky.

By Jeanne

Half the Sky

I want you to read Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn (find it on It’s an amazing book. It caught my eye in an airport bookstore because  I read Kristof’s op-eds in the New York Times. (He focuses on global issues like human rights abuses and poverty and has been tireless in his efforts to keep the Darfur conflict in the public consciousness. I think if he had a thought bubble above his head, it would say “Where’s the outrage already?”)

Half the Sky uses the stories of individual women to bring to life the most pressing issues related to gender inequality. The first-hand accounts are compelling, showing both what happens when something or someone intervenes to help a woman and when no help comes. The underlying message in the book is that things can change, must change, for women today, particularly in Asia and Africa. With a tone both real and optimistic, Kristof and WuDunn make the case for tapping into the potential of the world’s girls and women through education and empowerment.  At the end of the book, the authors list these four steps that can be completed in ten minutes:

  1. Go to or and open an account.
  2. Sponsor a girl or woman through Plan International, Women for Women International, World Vision or American Jewish World Service.
  3. Sign up for e-mail updates on and a similar service,
  4. Join the CARE Action Network at

Do you have ten minutes today? Take these four steps and tell your friends to do it, too. It will make a difference.

When women win, men don’t have to lose

“What if modern society is simply better suited to women?”  This question was posed by the Atlantic’s Hanna Rosin and then addressed in a Newsweek cover article.  Both articles focus on the rise of women in the workforce, resulting in more economic power and increased range of choices for women today. This is a situation that has been evolving, and women’s roles have changed significantly in the last 30 years, but we seem to have hit a tipping point.  The main difference is that, when one looks ahead, the cumulative impact of these changes will only increase in the future.

Consider these facts stated in the articles:

  • For the first time, women now hold a majority of the nation’s jobs.
  • More women are outpacing men in earning college degrees.
  • Women now earn 60 percent of master’s degrees, about half of all law and medical degrees, and 42 percent of all M.B.A.s.
  • Of the job categories forecasted to grow the most in the next decade in the U.S., most are occupied primarily by women.

If women are better positioned for the future, one key question is how relationships between men and women will evolve. Women that we talk to, both in our work and personal lives, want to share their lives with a partner and still typically see that as the ideal. Even if the economic drivers may no longer demand it, the emotional needs are still there.

What I found most resonant in the Newsweek article was the idea that this is not a zero-sum game. Because women seem to be winning, this doesn’t necessarily have to mean that men are losing.  If the gender roles can evolve in a way improves satisfaction with ourselves and our relationships, then everyone wins.

Maybe the opportunity is to stop thinking of this situation as a gender role reversal and look at it as more of a role blend. What this will ultimately look like and how it will play out, we can’t know for sure yet. But the one thing we do know for sure is that more change is coming, and coming fast.

The Art of the Phone Interview

Phone conversations are an important first step in business. You rarely get the job or the project based on a phone call but you sure can lose them because of one. We’ve done a lot of phone interviews with women — research study participants, panel members and potential employees — and wanted to share our ideas on what works.


Think through how your skills and experience connect to this specific opportunity and speak to that. It sounds simple but you should have one or two concrete reasons in your mind why you’re uniquely right.

Sometimes women tend to:

Focus on explaining their strengths without making the connection to this job or this opportunity.  The women who break through are genuinely enthusiastic about the fit between the two and make sure to make that point.


Plan how you want to review your past experience. One woman we talked to handled this nicely – she started with a high-level overall summary, briefly explaining what she learned at different milestones, then concluded by connecting how her current work related to our job opening. She was concise, direct and engaging.

Mistakes we’ve seen women make:

Going back and recounting four or six or nine past jobs in great detail or giving examples that don’t have much to do with the topic at hand . Some people are watchmakers (process-focused) and some are timetellers (outcome-focused). Know your style and where you might get off track.


Share something real or funny or give an example that reveals something positive about you that might be hard to say directly.  If you can tell a good story, all the better.

Sometimes women can:

Open up about their personal life, go into too much detail or get distracted and make unrelated points. It’s easy to relax once you’re in a conversation and overshare.

And finally, do:

Remember that the phone interview is just a doorway – the goal is to be invited in for the next step.

Do you have any tips or stories about own phone interviews? Please share.