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Where are the businesswomen?

Posted by Kara Miller, Culture Club  February 7, 2012 07:16 AM

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Liz Claman left WHDH-7 for CNBC in 1998. And she quickly became absorbed by the business world - frequently interviewing titans like Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, and Richard Branson.

Now an anchor for the Fox Business Network, Claman just returned from the annual nexus of politics and business: The World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. This year, the Forum imposed a quota for the second year in a row, requiring many companies to bring at least at one female representative.

But why the need for a quota in the first place? Why have so few women ascended to corporate leadership positions? Read my Boston Globe interview with Claman here, and, below, check out the outtakes from our discussion:

What’s the effect of having so few women at Davos?

Last year, I walked into a panel run by Arthur Sulzberger of the New York Times. I sat down, and I was the only woman in the audience - except for the Forum’s media representative. I was stunned. I just looked around and thought: this is what they’re talking about.

Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, has said that women sometimes exclude themselves from the corporate climb, as they think ahead to marriage and children. Is that why there so few women in top management positions?

I think it’s a work in progress. I think that, for me, I never paid attention. Now, I’m a big feminist. I’m a member of the Feminist Majority Foundation. Rah, rah, women. Except that part of that belief is that it’s a meritocracy, and nobody should get in the door unless they deserve to be there. So, in a way, I think part of it is very much women’s fault in that they don’t push themselves in there.

But, on the other hand, a lot of corporate CEOs I spoke to last year said: “you know, we just weren’t thinking about bringing a woman.” But when we they were encouraged to find women, they did find people who deserved to sit at the table. And last I checked, women have just as good ideas as men.

How did you end up breaking through and succeeding?

My parents are Canadian and very nice. I had to say: stop being so Canadian. I was getting passed up to be an anchor, and one day I stormed into my boss’ office, and I made a case to him that I should be an anchor.

This was in Columbus, Ohio, and I was getting passed up because I was a good reporter. And they didn’t want to lose me as a reporter. So I said: “if you don’t let me anchor, you’ll be punishing me for being good.” I said that I’d work unpaid part of the time if they’d let me anchor, and they bought the deal.

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
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About the author

Kara Miller is an Assistant Professor of English, specializing in journalism, at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth. She also serves as a guest panelist on WGBH-TV's “Beat the Press” and contributes to 89.7 FM WGBH (NPR). More »

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