Monthly Archives: July 2011

Promoting the Promotion of Women…. Really?

My company currently is promoting the promotion of women in a big way. I find it a bit pointless to constantly receive emails that laud our goal to continue to promote gender diversity and get more women in management positions. Why odd? Because I don’t believe having a “management initiative” that sends out emails, hosts networking and institutes mentoring programs is any way to get this done.

I’ve been at over 10 leading Silicon Valley companies (OK two were not exactly leading) and the biggest difference I’ve seen is that companies who truly promote gender diversity don’t need campaigns to instigate action. That is, they have women embedded in the organization at all levels – from the board, through the executive team all the way down to first line managers.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t spend a lot of time worrying about this. I’ve worked in Silicon Valley for almost 20 years and was once told to stop asking about women in leadership positions because I was “becoming known for asking that kind of question.” So over the years, I’ve learned not to ask or worry about the promotion of women, but the problem seems odd and I think, is somewhat unique as it occurs in high tech companies.

So what’s the deal? My 2cent theory is that the valley was born as a big old-boys, chip-based network and ultimately hasn’t really grown up or lost that DNA. The thunder and bravado of high tech CEOs such as Larry Ellison, Mark Benioff is a direct descendent of this gene pool as is the fact that you rarely see women leading, or in high levels, of high tech companies (at least for long – sorry Carly).

But here is the twist, I work for a German company and lo and behold, same problem. A 2009 Germany ministry of family study found 3 mindsets among male bosses about women (see article):

  • Those who simply don’t think women are cut out for it
  • Those who think they are, but fear their colleagues don’t and worry about cohesion
  • Those who say that in theory gender does not matter but in practice women who make it “overcompensate” and are not “authentic.”

Yikes! Who would have thunk another culture could be more messed up about the view of women in management?  (BTW, since that article was written, Angelika Dammann has left SAP after only 1 year.)

Given Oracle, Salesforce, and other valley company’s competitive spirit, I wonder if they would be upset that they’ve been out prejudiced by their German rivals? It is clear that none of these mindsets are good… at all. What is a  woman to do?

A colleague from Switzerland and I were talking about what it takes to manage women vs. manage men. She pointed out that women need better, softer management such as encouragement and personable colleagues. Her simplified take gave me pause.

In a funny way, what if it was just that simple, that cultures – both country and company – that encourage encouragement and getting along are able to retain women at all levels? Yes they are “soft” skills and environmental factors, but I certainly don’t need more emails and programs to encourage me and my colleagues to promote women.

Listen up Larry, Mark & my German management…. ultimately, my best jobs were made by having colleagues I enjoy working with and a culture that values enjoying what you do and who you do it with — please don’t forget the good paycheck —  with a little encouragement sprinkled on top.

– Michaela


Motivation and High School Reunions

I’m trying to get motivated to shop.  I have a high-school reunion in a few weeks and would like to have new things to wear for the weekend of activities.  I won’t say what reunion it is, but it’s a milestone year and I haven’t seen the vast majority of these people in a looonnng time.

OH, it’s also at the beach.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the beach and spend more than my share of time at the beach.  But the thought of wearing a bathing suit in front of these people is more than a little intimidating!  I am much more accepting of my body and myself than I was in high school, but there’s more to accept.

One of the disadvantages of working from home is never having the right clothes to actually go places.  I don’t want to be too trendy and look like I’m trying to fight my age, but I’m not stuck in a time warp, either.  I don’t want to be too casual like I didn’t care what they thought.  I don’t want to dress too formally and appear snobbish, since I’m pretty sure I’m not in that category.  Maybe I’m over-analyzing…..

And what do you talk about?  Their children?  While I appreciate that raising children is the most admirable and difficult job, I just don’t have much to add to that conversation since I haven’t done it.  Their job?  I’m blessed, but the economic woes have affected many people in my life, so I consider it a minefield subject and wouldn’t bring it up even if you tried to make me.  Life back then?  It’s so far removed from my current life that it seems another person went to high school in that town.

Why am I even going to this reunion?  I get the little information I require about my classmates, and then some, from Facebook.  I remember.  I’ve renewed a friendship with someone I knew in high school.  He’s very extroverted, lived in multiple large neighborhoods, and knows everyone.  He has great memories of high school.  I can’t remember most of the things he tells me and get that dazed and confused look.  I’m not good at pretending, either.

But, I might be the one to recognize the face of the attendee that not one other person can recall.  It could be nice to see the friend who let me wear his letter jacket on the football bus when I was freezing because my brother let someone else wear his.  Maybe I could get inspiration from the couple who got married during high school and ARE STILL married although they suffered the tragedy of losing a child in the service.

Our classmate’s recent widower could probably use some encouragement and distraction.  And the friend, practically a sister, who included me as her maid-of-honor will be there, too.  It would definitely be good to see the friend who routinely made me laugh so hard that I thought I’d have an accident.  I lived in her neighborhood while waiting for our new house to be built after our old one burned down.  And I could see my friend who is still recovering from a serious illness.

Okay, got to run.  I hear a store calling my name.


Potentially interesting links:

Keeping In Touch Years Later (video)

10 Ways to Reconnect and Revel (ideas)

Conversation Starters You Might Not Want To Use (list)

Reunion Etiquette (tips from a high school reunion committee)

Why don’t I live in a condo?

I have asked myself that question a thousand times over the past couple of months while I’m either knee deep in dirt, loading a trailer full rocks and mulch at Lowe’s, or when I’m groaning in pain while trying to move any part of my body.

“Lord, wouldn’t a condo with no yard be like heaven? “ Having no yard work would free me up for fun, not to mention the extra money I would have in my checking account.

I’ll tell you the reason –I love the privacy and freedom a large yard provides and we love to have parties.  Especially in the summer when we can enjoy being outside.   Oh – and the DOGS.  When we saw this house while looking to buy one, the first thought I had was this would be a great place for our dogs and they love it here.

Did I mention that while my husband and I were nearly killing ourselves over this past weekend in the 100 degree heat, the dogs were inside, lounging in the air conditioned comfort of THEIR house.

The downside of this size of yard is the never ending upkeep.   Val’s Tree Service is coming by this afternoon to give a quote on removing a very large tree that is about to overtake our garage.  That will be another chunk of change.   But it’s worth it ….. NOW.  It’s been a few days since we’ve finished the digging, mulching and planting and I can get out of bed without groaning so loud I wake the dogs.  The yard looks great.

Because we have an automatic feeder and a doggie door, the dogs have the run of the house and yard so they can stay home when I’m traveling.  My husband and I are headed out to a family vacation in Colorado soon and we are leaving the dogs behind.  I told my dog sitter who will be staying here to have as many parties as she wants.   The yard looks great and Lord knows I’m too tired to throw one!

Ellie’s meet & greet

I took Ellie (my dog) to a “meet and greet” for a new groomer this past weekend.  As Jen would say… Really?…Really?!

It’s not as ridiculous as it sounds… Okay, maybe it is.

I’ve been thinking about changing groomers for awhile now.  Ellie is a cockapoo and I have her groomed about every 5-6 weeks (I know to some it’s excessive, but I’m fine with it… really!). Dog gooming is one of the many things on my list of “things I don’t want to know how to do” so I pay to have it done.) Anyway, she is always anxious when we go to the groomer and has a huge attitude problem when I pick her up, so I thought I would try a new groomer.

As I’m walking to the groomer (I live in the city, and this new groomer lives within walking distance – PLUS), a few thoughts are running through my head:

a)      She’s a dog.  As long as there is some sort of treat involved, she typically doesn’t care who she meets as long as they are human (she’s a little pickier when it comes to other animals).

b)      I don’t take myself for meet and greets for my own salon appointments, even though I’m constantly anxious at the thought of a haircut.

c)       Am I really doing this?  Who takes their dog to the groomer without an appointment to get groomed?  And on a Saturday morning at 9am when I should be finishing my pot of coffee?

We arrive, and Ellie immediately tries to abort mission and get the heck out of there as fast as possible.  It becomes painfully obvious to me at that point that it’s not the groomer, but the smell of getting groomed that gets her anxious.  It doesn’t matter who, or what kind of treat you’re trying to give her for positive association (as evidenced by her immediately spitting treat on the ground that the groomer gave her when we walked in).  She’s just not a fan of being groomed.

So, we stay for a few minutes, make an appointment to come back for an actual bath, and start walking home.  This time I’m thinking…I can’t believe I just did that. And then I think… I can’t believe I just did that.

Then again, it shouldn’t surprise me all that much…the night before I was getting ready for an overnight on my family’s boat, and packed Ellie’s overnight bag, which included:

a)      Food – both regulardaily food, treats, and special treats

b)      Toys  – her favorite, a new one, her old one and, of course a blue one… as though she’s going to be sitting there bored instead of sleeping while we are swimming

c)       Life jacket (I KNOW)

Contrast that to me packing my own bag for the same trip… I just throw some clothes and a bottle of Skinnygirl Margarita in a bag, and I’m all set.

This whole experience makes me realize that I’m a little (A LOT) crazy when it comes to my dog.  I need to get a hobby.  But at least I know that the rest of the Sheality girls are (almost) as crazy as I am.

– Erin