March 25, 2012
In a male-owned dominated business landscape, the women who lead a Louisiana-based environmental consultant corporation say they practice management etiquette in a non-threatening style toward clients and employees, many of whom are men.
Senior Vice President Cheryl Wells of Quaternary Resource Investigations consults men and others on environmental projects, a role that some men are not accustomed to seeing a woman in, she said.
“When managing people, it is always important to respect the people you are managing — and in particular, when it is a woman managing a man,” she said of her company, whose chief executive officer is a woman, Fonda Lindfors New.
Gender equity in the workplace has progressed considerably since March 8, 1857, when women from New York City factories protested deplorable working conditions. By 2007, revenue from the 7.8 million woman-owned businesses in the U.S. totaled about $1.2 trillion, according to U.S. Census data.
National Women’s History Month was established by Congress in 1987 to honor women’s accomplishments in such areas as business, education, medicine and other areas.
Wells’ movement up the corporate ladder is just one of the many stories that a panel of area women community leaders will share at today’s Girl Scouts Louisiana East, “ToGetHerThere” Centennial Extravaganza in Gonzales. Speakers will also address data from a 2012 Girl Scout Research Institute report
that showed while girls are generally optimistic about their futures, they still see glass ceilings in today’s society that will get in
the way of achieving their leadership potential.
“It’s recognizing the disconnect between girls who feel they don’t have the skills to lead, and also girls don’t view leadership the same as boys. Leaders can also be behind the scenes and not necessarily in the front. Our role is to be able to search out more girls so every girl can develop to her best leadership potential,” said Marianne Addy, vice president of communications and development for Girl Scouts Louisiana East.
The study, based on a national telephone survey of 1,000 girls ages 8 to 17 in December, found that about three in five girls think that a woman can rise in a company but will rarely be placed in a senior leadership role. About one-third of girls say they would feel uncomfortable trying to be a leader, and 40 percent said they are not sure if they are cut out to be a leader. The margin of error is +/-4 percentage points.
Wells offered her take on the survey.
She grew up during the 1960s, and her parents encouraged her to pursue her dreams, she said. “Young girls are unique and they need to discover their own hidden talents and pursue those with a passion,” she said. “Once discovering those talents, they must offer those to their community, family, schools and Girl Scout troops.”
Addy said past studies have indicated that girls view leadership differently than boys. For example, girls were more likely to be leaders because they want to help other people, share knowledge and skills with others or change the world for the better. Boys, on the other hand, were more likely than girls to be motivated by the desire to be their own boss, make more money and have more power, she said.
“This extravaganza is about empowering girls to dream big and work hard and practice dedication to help them succeed in their life’s goals,” Addy said.
Chante Dionne Warren is a freelance reporter for The Advocate. She can be reached at email@example.com