Women’s Recognition and Equality in the Public Sphere

In 1971, Congress designated August 26th as Women’s Equality Day. While most of us would not be aware this day even existed, this year, the end of August has brought two events that are worth looking at as a means of reflection on women’s equality. 

This month saw the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington, at which Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. The program for this historic event held a speech by only one woman, who was given about 60 seconds to speak. While women were ever present in the trenches of the civil rights movement and played in irreplaceable role in the movement over all, the fact that their public representation was almost nonexistent at that time can be used as a gauge to show the progress that has taken place. This year at the 50th anniversary gathering in Washington DC, the line up of women proved the prominent public role women now accepted into, with speeches from women such as Nancy Pelosi, the minority leader of the House of Representatives.

A second monumental event worth mentioning that occurred this month was the official recognition in Saudi Arabia of domestic violence as a punishable offense. Up to this point domestic violence has been considered a private matter in Saudi Arabia; this change marks a dramatic increase in women’s rights and a very strong step towards a greater level of equality, beginning in the home, between in the genders in the Middle East.  (The below link shows the country’s first ant-abuse campaign that I found extremely powerful).

Nalani Genser

Northeastern University

Related articles:




Fail Big: Lesson from Sara Blakely


“Failure is life’s way of nudging you and letting you know you’re off course”

Sara Blakely is an entrepreneur and founder of Spanx which offers a line of undergarments, specifically shapewear, that make clothes look and feel better on women. Although she has no formal training in starting and running a business, Sara is now the sole owner of a company valued at $1 Billion, a far cry from her original investment of $5,000.

Similar to her father, her plan was to become a lawyer, but when that did not pan out; she did not give up on the belief that someday she would be successful. From an early age, her father encouraged her to tell him stories about her failures. Furthermore, she would be disappointed if she didn’t have a story to share! From this, it is clear that she always thought of failure as a story to learn something from, not something to be ashamed of.

As true with many new business ventures, she is very familiar with the word “no”. This failure or rejection is disheartening if looked at negatively. Instead, Sara saw this response as encouragement to work past her comfort zone and reach new levels. Failure, especially if big forces one to step back and re-evaluate the small decisions that led to the specified outcome. It provides an opportunity to learn and grow past prior choices.

Sara Blakely is not afraid to fail; we shouldn’t be either.

Mariam Azhar

University of Waterloo

For further reading:



Fork in the Road: Spotlight on Paulett Eberhart


Most CEOs didn’t plan to be CEOs when they first started their careers. Rather than strategizing their way to the top, they gave their best and, as cheesy as it sounds, followed what their hearts told them to do. Eventually, a path opened up to them.

“One of the best moves I ever made in my career was to take a step down the ladder” -Paulett Eberhart

Paulett Eberhart did not strategize to the CEO of CPI Corporation. Just as what she said in her interview with Sasha Galbraith, she dropped down her position further away from the CEO position in order to run a new piece of organization in the company. People would shake their heads in disapproval, but she stood firmly with her decision that it was a necessary step for her long-term goal. As we can see, the distinction between Eberhart and other people is that she believed in herself and her ability to decide what’s the best for her.

Also, she gave us insightful advice as a successful businesswoman. 

1. Do not ask “I want you to be my mentor”. Just give your best and show people your potential

Don’t ask! Just develop a relationship naturally. When you are willing to reach out to them, you will find that they will be responsive and willing to help you. Eberhart never asked people to be her mentor. Her first two mentors were fathers of two and five daughters. Perhaps they wanted to see a successful vision for their daughters through Eberhart, but the most important thing was that she showed them her potential. 

2. Do not find mentors who are very similar to you

You always want to expand your horizon, but you wouldn’t be able to if you only look for people who are similar to you.

3. Make things happen for yourself

Many smart people work really hard but are not noticed by others. Don’t be afraid and start to reach out to people and build a network. When people see that you are sincere and working hard, they will be more than happy to give you advice.

People like her are successful not because they did something that other people could not do but because they gave their best in doing something that other people might not think to do


Yuen Chun Lee

Boston University

Interviewed by Sasha Galbraith:

The 16 Percent Ghetto: Breaking Through a Glass Ceiling


Even several decades following the women’s liberation movement of the 1970s, inequality still exists between men and women in the workforce. Why do women seem to “max out” at the 16% threshold in every industry when it comes to leadership positions? 

A recent study conducted at Concordia University, which found that only three percent of the top executives among Fortune 500 companies are women, caused me to reflect on the reasons disparity in leadership positions exists regardless of the many studies claiming that women are better suited than men to hold leadership positions.

According to Debora Spar, president of Barnard College, regardless of what sector women are working in, they are maxing out at 16% when it comes to holding positions of power – this underrepresentation of women leaders is what she calls the “16 percent ghetto.” 

Why is there a glaring leadership gap, and why is that percentage so low? Let’s look at a few concrete examples in various labor industries.

Take, for example, the United States governmental body. In the U.S., women make up 17% of the Senate, and only 16.8% of the House of Representatives. Three out of nine of the Supreme Court Justices are women, and only 12% of governors are women. Females make up about 23.65 of  elected representatives, and out of the 100 largest cities in the country, only 9% of mayors are women.

However, this disparity is not only prevalent in politics, but also in other sectors, such as business, academia, law, and religion. As reported in Women and Leadership, by Deborah Rhode and Barbara Kellerman, “Less than a quarter of full-time professors and a fifth of college presidents are female. In management, women account for about a third of M.B.A. classes, but only 3 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs, 6 percent of top earners, 8 percent of top leadership positions, and 16 percent of board directors and corporate officers. In law, women constitute about half of new entrants to the profession, but less than a fifth of law firm partners, federal judges, law school deans, and Fortune 500 general counsels. Half the students in divinity school are women, but they account for only 3 percent of the pastors of large congregations in protestant churches that have been ordaining women for decades.” There is an even slimmer margin of women leaders in the finance sector, where 57% of workers are women; yet only 1.5 percent are CEO’s.

It is clear that leadership roles are not evenly divided between male and females. But does this mean that women are not as qualified as men to fulfill these roles?

No. Although imbalanced, the ability for women to contribute to social and cultural affairs equally has nothing to do with whether or not there is a lack of qualified women in the executive talent pool, but has more to do with the fact that there are several barriers to advancement for women that men do not always face. According to Rhode, “The reasons have to do with unconscious bias, the persistence of exclusionary networks and opportunities, and work-family barriers.” In many settings, women are more subject to a highly biased evaluation process because of preconceived notions as well as their likelihood of being able to arrive early and stay late when motherhood is reached. For instance, although women are encouraged to assume traditional men’s roles, the opposite does not hold true. Women tend to take more time off to assume major familial roles, such as child rearing, emergency, and elderly care.

As a direct consequence, there is a significant tradeoff made between time dedicated to family and time dedicated to decision-making roles without compromising one or the other. This also explains why many women choose to leave the corporate world in order to pursue careers that allow them to work from home, such as entrepreneurial enterprises which allow for more flexibility and where time between family and work are not as constricted.

Although it almost seems like a catch 22, it is not a fully vicious cycle that has not been overcome by extraordinary women professionals. Qualities that are traditionally attributed to women, such as empathy, curiosity, and collaboration are believed to be more effective when it comes to a leadership approach. Many women have a “transformational leadership” style – the most desirable style of leadership. This means they can connect to the employee’s sense of self, act as an inspirational role model, and have better perception of others’ strengths and weaknesses. All of these things help to enhance employee performance, which partly explains why women in senior management positions tend to turn higher profits.

It is evident that although women may be better suited for leadership roles in senior management than originally perceived, until there is more flexibility for work-life balance, the disparity in gender, pay, and opportunity will remain. Companies are making strides as some begin adopting new strategies of having women in high standing positions in order to increase net profits yielded and company success. While this may be a small step; slowly and steadily, we are breaking the glass ceiling that brings us closer to labor equality.


TramElizabeth Nguyen

Brandeis University ‘14





The Impact of the Chinese Currency


China’s undervalued currency continues to be a popular topic of contention. When people talk about keeping the Chinese currency low, they mean that it is very cheap relative to something else, for example the US Dollar, the Euro or gold.  It expresses a ratio. The current exchange rate for RMB is $0.16. The theory is that by keeping the value of its currency relatively low, China encourages other countries, such as the United States, to import more goods from China. It is no wonder China would want to keep the value of its currency low because it encourages an increase in imports and trade, which acts as a catalyst for job growth in China. As the demand for cheap Chinese goods increases, the production of these goods must increase as well, thus encouraging an increase in jobs.

The Chinese government sets a trading range for the value of its currency relative to the American dollar. A trading range is the “range” of prices traded during a period of time.  The People’s Bank of China determines the trading range. The range has a direct impact on the prices paid for Chinese imports. When the trading range is strong, Americans are less likely to want to import goods because more dollars are needed to buy the same amount of Chinese goods. Thus, the goods are now more expensive in the United States. When the trading range is weak, American dollars are able to buy more Chinese goods and the demand for imports increase.

The debate over the Chinese currency impacts not only China’s economy but the US economy as well, which is why it has become a major issue of concern in American politics. US politicians are cracking down on China due to the polls that show that most Americans are blaming China to some extent for America’s current economy.  The Pew Charitable Trust conducted a poll examining American’s views on China. For example, during the early stages of President Obama’s presidency, the president was urged to do something about the frail Chinese currency. In the most recent presidential election, Mitt Romney nicknamed China the “currency manipulator” and would work to raise the tax on imports of Chinese products into this country. Romney has argued for taking stronger measures against China than Obama. However, beginning a currency war with China, or implementing trade tariffs, can hurt the United States as much as it would hurt China. U.S pressures on China can be effective; the renminbi rose substantially under pressure from President George W. Bush’s administration, before becoming much more consistent from 2008 until 2010.

Despite the controversy over raising the value of China’s currency, the renminbi remains undervalued, relative to all other currencies, by 5 to 20 percent, according to various estimates.

Obama met with China’s vice president to discuss currency undervaluation as a trade practice that concerns the United States. The meeting was part of the US objective to persuade Chinese leaders that it is in their interest to create a stronger currency. Although cheap Chinese currency encourages the United States to buy more Chinese products and therefore improves employment, Chinese workers can’t buy as many goods from other countries because their currency is so cheap. This begs the question of whether currency undervaluation in fact hurts Chinese workers.

China’s economic rise has resulted from a growing industrial sector that benefits from a cheap renminbi. However, this current currency value has both benefits and drawbacks for China and other countries.

Increasing the value of the renminbi increases Chinese households’ buying power by reducing the cost of the imports to China. Furthermore, increasing the currency’s value encourages companies in China to manufacture higher quality products that bring higher-paying jobs, rather than competing mostly on price.

Since China is the biggest purchaser of US Treasury Bills, it would benefit them if their currency were higher because it would cost them less to buy these Treasury Bills.  However, this has to be valued against the benefits of cheap currency in terms of its international trade relations. This contrary impulse has to be valued against the benefits of cheap currency in terms of its international trade relations.  This is a good illustration of the difference between a manufacturing-oriented economy, which wants cheap currency so it can sell more products, and a consumer-oriented economy that imports many products and benefits from an expensive currency. Officials from the United States, Brazil, Europe and elsewhere are seeking a stronger renminbi, explaining how it will lead to more balanced, sustainable growth for the whole world.

In 2010, when the global recession was slowing, yet political frustration with China was rising, American officials and others began to have more success influencing Chinese currency rates. According to David Leonardt of the New York Times, “The renminbi has risen 8.5 percent against the dollar. Since June 2010, with the pace having slowed in the last six months. Taking into account the different inflation rates in the two counties, the effective increase is closer to 12 percent.” The rising value of the renminbi has decreased China’s account surplus, which is a measure of the difference between a country’s exports and imports. However, it seems that with more pressure from America, the value of the renminbi will continue to rise, which will positively impact the country.

While cheap Chinese currency encourages the United States to buy more Chinese products and therefore improves employment, the low renminbi value negatively affects Chinese workers who are unable to buy many goods from other countries because their currency is so cheap. Furthermore, the low value of the currency hurts America’s economy. Only time will tell whether China decides to adhere to America’s pressures or maintain its reputation as a “currency manipulator.”


Sara Weber

Brandeis University

How To Maintain A Network


Now that I have talked about how to network, the next step is to maintain the relationships with your contacts and keep up your network. Here are some actions that you can take.

1. Keep track of your network.  If you are active networker, you will realize as time goes by, you have more and more contacts. However, how can you keep track of so many contacts while you are trying to meet more people? Excel will be your best assistant. Make an Excel worksheet of all your contacts, including their name, contact info, company, position and how you meet them. In that way, it is easier for you to manage, and divide your contacts into subgroups, such as by categories (e.g. “financial service”, “banking”, “insurance”…)

Another thing that I would recommend is to take notes of the conversation. It shows that you care about what they said, and it is good for the continuity of the relationship. Think this way, both of you and your contacts are busy, and no one is going to remember what you talked about last time. So the notes will help you to refresh your memory, and next time you meet, you can pick up on where you left. And, notes will also help you to better customize your thank you note. (Yes, don’t forget to send the thank you note to your contacts.)

2. Check in with your contacts regularly. You don’t want your contact to forget about you; neither do you want them to get annoyed. Therefore, common recommending length for check-in is monthly.  Shoot them an email and give them some updates about you, or do a stock pitch, or send them a business-related article. Hint: find an excuse to reconnect.

3. Pay the visit if possible. If your contact’s geographic location is near yours, you should try to arrange a personal meeting with them. For example, I go to school in Boston, and I would visit my contacts in New York City. Yes, it is kind of far, it takes you four hours to get to the city. But think of the other way, this 4 hours bus ride will make you stand out. It differentiates you by taking a step further to meet them in person, instead of calling over phone. It shows that you care more, and you are willing to work harder.

4. Be likable. I know, sometimes is hard, because you don’t know if your contact will like you or not especially when you never met before. From my experiences, I generally found professionals who want to help out are very forgiving. Be professional, be prepared and be yourself. Dressed up as if you are going to an interview, that shows your professional attitude; research about your contacts before meeting them (e.g. their company, their job responsibilities) and ask good questions; and be yourself, show your curiosity and sincerity.

5. “Give back” to your contacts. This professional relationship must be a “give and take” relationship. I often ask myself, how can I give back to my contacts, I am just a student. But after talking to my career counselor, she gave me some suggestions for me to give back, such as sending my contacts a business or trend article; a new business process that’s disrupting how organizations work; a piece of research regarding what the most innovative companies do to succeed, or things in their interested field.

I think the quality of the relationship is way more important than the quantity, and I am happy to hear more suggestions from you all. I look forward to meet with all of you on 2013 IBC at Hynes Convention Center. Should you have any questions and concerns, please contact me at jlin730@bu.edu and feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/jiaxinlin/. Happy Networking!

Jiaxin Lin

Boston University

Tips On Networking


We all know that networking is essential in the world of business, because it usually helps people to get the job. Without a doubt, everybody in business school will tell you how important is it to start networking as early as possible. I have came up with some suggestions according to my personal experiences, suggestions from others and career-related readings. Alright, here we go.

1. Start with the people who know you the best. Family, friends, neighbors, high school teachers, college professors and sport coach, and etc. Ask those people if they know anyone in your interested field, you might be surprised by the results. The advantage for starting with people who you familiar with is that you are relax and comfortable when talking to them, and they know you well to pick a right professional who can talk to you.

2. Alumni. Alumni are a great resource, and they are generally very helpful. Reach out to the alums that work in your interested field, and shoot them an email to introduce yourself. You will be amazed of how much you can get out of this relationship. Please note, the timing for email is crucial. Research shows that Sunday afternoon is the best time, because people are done doing things, and are not as hectic as they would during the workdays. And, even though they would not have the chance to check during Sunday, it would be the top of the Monday’s email’s pile. 

3. Go to career-oriented events. Career fair, employee info sessions, networking events, etc. are great ways to get to know people who work in your desire companies. It is a more focused target market, and it is easer for you to find the ones you need. P.S. Attending IBC 2013 is a great way to get to know amazing people who work in top-notched firms.

4. Clubs/Organizations. Professional clubs, such as Finance Club, Business club will give you great aspects of your passionate field, as well as having opportunities to get to know the related professionals. It is a good way to involve with the industry.

5. Social Media. Now, we all live in the digital age, social media has revolutionized the way of how people connect with each other.  LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook are the most common used social media, however, I recommend LinkedIn to be your prioritized site to connect with other professionals. You can follow the companies that you are interested, and search for people who work in your desire fields and positions. Remember, you miss 100% of the shots that you did not take, so be bold to reach out and introduce yourself.

6. Last but now least, use your existing network to enlarge your current network. Often times, I heard people told me that the most successful networking is to make your contact’s network become yours. So kindly ask your connections to introduce more professionals to you to increase your network.  

To me, networking is not just a mean for the job hunt. By talking to many different highly accomplished people who work in world-renowned firm, I found myself inspired and my horizons broaden. I look forward to seeing all of you on 2013 IBC at Hynes Convention Center. Should you have any questions and concerns, please contact me at jlin730@bu.edu and feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/jiaxinlin/. Happy Networking!


Jiaxin Lin

Boston University

Considering Gender Inequality in Japan in the Workplace- Part One


I spent almost my entire summer in Japan this year and have spent a considerable time reading and researching about gender issues in Japan. I have written two articles about gender inequality in Japan and the implications this has on women entering the workforce. (Considering Gender Inequality in Japan in the Workplace Part One and Part Two.) Part One details the reality of gender inequality in the Japanese workplace today, while Part Two introduces legislative responses to gender issues.

Speaking of modernization in terms of gender equality, from a Western perspective, implies the empowerment of women and equal opportunities for both men and women. Although in most developed countries there are intimate correlations between economic expansion and increased gender equality, the same is not the true for Japan. Under the exterior of progressiveness and economic expansion lie Japan’s deep-rooted gender inequality problems. GEM (Gender Empowerment Measure), a measurement of gender equality, ranks Japan 54th among 93 countries in gender inequality. (http://hdr.undp.org/en/media/HDR_20072008_GEM.pdf)

It is worth inquiring why, despite the immense modernization Japan has undergone in the post-war years, Japan’s gender inequality issues have not yet been resolved. Traditionally, Japan has been a male-dominated society. Men were the breadwinners of the household, while women were expected to be submissive and responsible for taking care of the family. Yet in the modern day, this situation still exists. The gender discrepancies problems have even permeated past the household, into the realm of the workplace.

While Japan has achieved equal educational opportunities for both genders, women who have received as much education as men, are not getting equivalent work positions. Most women are expected to work secretarial positions and titled “office ladies” (OL). Their work consists of mundane, straightforward secretarial tasks that do not require intellectual or innovative thinking. Japanese companies are reluctant to employ women as versatile employees, thinking that women’s roles of bearing children and taking care of the family will impede them from working in the future.

After completing the societal obligations of raising children, a vast number of old married women decide to enter the workforce. However their career opportunities are once again severely limited to part-time jobs that require these women to work long hours for low pay. The part-time jobs may also fail to provide basic welfare services such as pensions and sick-leaves. The combination of low wages and mediocre working conditions make it difficult for women to obtain economic power.

Ultimately, I do not think Japan’s gender unfair employment system is sustainable. Japan’s increasing ageing population and declining birth rates suggest labor shortages that can only be improved by allowing more women to work. I hope the economic pressure to increase employment and changing traditional ideas towards gender equality will eventually increase women empowerment in the workplace. With this change, I hope women will be able to find comfort and flexibility among the multiple roles of being a businesswoman, wife and mother.

Rina Azumi

Princeton University

The Daily Muse: Career-minded Community


The Daily Muse is an American news website and blog founded on September 6, 2011 by three entrepreneurial women named by Kathryn Minshew, Alex Cavoulacos and Melissa McCreery. In addition to the news website and blog, the Daily Muse also operates a job search site called the Muse. The Muse provides in-depth coverage of renowned employers such as Gucci, Dell, Piniterest and Spotify. The in-depth coverage of the Muse is realized through behind-the-scenes videos of the company headquarters and interviews with employees.

The CEO of The Daily Muse, Kathryn Minshew admitted that she had never thought of being an entrepreneur, but that certain decisions and experiences during her life brought her to the idea of starting up the Daily Muse. Growing up Kathryn Minshew witnessed the life of an entrepreneur through her father and was not attracted to the lifestyle. She always saw herself in arts or international-related field and pursued a degree in political sciences and international relations. Throughout her life, Kathryn Minshew tried to find a career that she would find interesting and would bring her happiness. During her crazy hunt towards a happy career, Kathryn Minshew has worked in different fields, including working on vaccine introduction in Rwanda and Malawi with the Clinton Health Access Initiative and as a management consultant at McKinsey & Company. Unfortunately, in neither of these careers did Kathryn Minshew found happiness, until she began a side-project in which she worked as an entrepreneur in her own company together with a number of partners. From her experience with her first company, Kathryn Minshew learned a few hard life lessons that have brought her to the idea of the Daily Muse. Kathryn Minshew admitted that she trusted the wrong people too early and leaned a life-long lesson about working with those who share your values and ethics. It was from the unfortunate end of her first company that led Kathryn Minshew into starting the Daily Muse. According to Kathryn Minshew herself:”I also would never have started The Daily Muse if I hadn’t been forced to let go of my previous company through some really terrible events. It was one of the worst times in my life”. From the best mistake of her career, Kathryn Minshew learned her life-lessons and started together with two other partners the start-up of the Daily Muse. In the beginning of the start-up of the Daily Muse, Kathryn Minshew and the other two co-founders encountered a number of critics who plainly indicated that they were crazy for launching this website and that their idea was not going to be successful. However, the three founders remained determined and continued pursuing their goals by turning their big idea into an inspiring reality that proves their biggest critics wrong.

Today, the Daily Muse is a successful website with a team of more than 140 writers and 700,000 active users per month. The three female founders proved that making mistakes does not mean the end of the world and that with determination big ideas can be turned into an inspiring reality.

Armina Khezri 

Erasmus University, the Netherlands






You Are The Driving Force


As students, we come to a crossroads quite often. Contemplating whether to spend more time on academics or extracurricular activities, choosing between internships, deciding between industries – oftentimes, it seems like even the smallest of steps can send us down a different path. Every decision is multi-faceted; compromise quickly becomes unavoidable. When decision fatigue sets in, it’s easy to begin second-guessing ourselves.  Are we compromising too much or too little? Are we taking the right steps? What if the decisions of yesterday prevent tomorrow’s opportunities? At those moments, we can look to the powerful words of author Elaine Maxwell.

“My will shall shape the future. Whether I fail or succeed shall be no one’s doing but my own. I am the force. I can clear any obstacle before me or I can be lost in the maze. My choice. My responsibility. Win or lose; only I hold the key to my destiny.”

On the surface, Mrs. Maxwell appears to be speaking more to personal philosophy than opportunity cost. Upon second glance, however, we come to understand that she is addressing the underlying problem. Internalizing a driving attitude of focus and motivation is far more important than every individual move. The maze she speaks about can be understood as the complexities of daily life, whether they are classes, club, or career worries. We can get so caught up with navigating the maze that we lose sight of our end goal. Your own personal vision – one that you have created, are refining, and strive towards – should be what propels you forward.

I want to challenge Leading Ladies readers to do two things. First, write down a paragraph summary of your vision for your own life. Make sure that everything in those few sentences is driven by what you feel passionate about. Everyone has different values and strengths; business is a common interest that joins us, but it does not define us. Second, categorize the major parts of your life – your major, on-campus activities, work opportunities, etc. Time is your most precious resource. Going forward, ensure that you are allocating it towards areas that drive your own vision forward.


Mary Sun

University of Pennsylvania