"Why are you involved in Breaking the Mold?" - by Anita Wu and Lakshmi Kannan

“Why are you involved in Breaking the Mold?”

We are asked this every other day. At the surface, the question explores our interests and priorities. The real question, however, is more subtle; it is: given the high opportunity cost of these two years at MIT Sloan, why are you choosing to spend such a large portion of your time (especially in recruiting-crucial second year) putting together two conferences on unconscious bias.

Ask anyone, and they’ll readily agree: diversity is good for an organization - for its people, for its culture, for its bottom line. And because we are all in agreement, it is an awkward topic to disagree on; therefore, these conversations are avoided, inside and outside the classroom and the workplace.


We have thought about this question a lot. There’s plenty to be involved in at school, so why does Breaking the Mold matter?

Here is our answer: We are involved in Breaking the Mold because we believe that a safe forum should exist for individuals to step outside of their comfort zone and be questioned about their perspective on the “right” thing to do in the world. MIT Sloan is committed to developing and becoming “principled leaders who improve the world.” For us, principled leadership is precisely about challenging others to think about their privilege, and the accountability that come with this privilege.

What our organizations look like is not a ‘gender’ issue or a diversity issue. It’s the collective issue of us -- principled, innovative leaders -- who hold ourselves accountable.

A comic made the rounds on popular internet a few months ago that really left an impression on us. It described a scenario where students were asked to throw a ball of paper into a waste basket at the front of the room. Those at the back of the room complained about the difference in distance between them and the basket, compared to those sitting in the front. The students in the front did not perceive the inequality until the issue was raised. (You can read the whole comic here).

Privilege blinds.

And we are the privileged.

Please join us this Saturday at the MIT Media Lab to explore outside your comfort zone.

Anita Wu, MBA 2016
Lakshmi Kannan, MBA 2016
Co-Chairs, Breaking the Mold, An MIT Sloan Women in Management Initiative
 

This year, Breaking the Mold is exploring unconscious biases in workplace policies - i.e. systematic institutional biases that may hold back a certain population in the workforce. On December 5th, we hear from companies that are implementing and addressing structural policies to address unconscious bias in their organizations. On February 5th, we learn from our faculty on the latest research on biases and how they impact institutions. Please join us on Saturday 05 December and Friday 05 February at the MIT Media Lab to participate in this conversation. Tickets are on sale now at bit.ly/getmitbtm.

Mind the Gap! - by Matija Dreze

Excerpt from Matija's (MBA '16) recent post on Breaking the Mold of Veterans:

Traditionally, November 11 is a day of gratitude and/or commemoration, depending on where you grew up in the world. In the United States, we remember wars fought; we also acknowledge men and women who served. Because of the nature of the military experience, there is often a certain stigma associated with being a veteran and, as a result, barriers are created which prevents open communication. I was curious about this “invisible wall”, so I discussed it with a few Sloanies to better understand it. This blog post is a maladroit attempt at bringing down barriers simply by starting a conversation between Sloanies who served and those of us who didn’t.

- See more at: http://mitsloan.mit.edu/student-blogs/mba-2016/mind-the-gap-3/#sthash.9Rfw3NCX.dpuf

My Unconscious Bias - By Eileen Parra

Women are less likely than men to support policies that make it easier for women to advance professionally. The logic behind this statement is that these women believe they overcame significant obstacles to obtain a leadership position so why should it be easier for the next generation of women leaders. There are obvious flaws in this logic, but when I first heard this statement I was more interested in knowing if I had exhibited any behaviors that would cause me to have a similar perspective in the future.

After some deep reflection, I became aware of two behaviors that revealed by unconscious bias: 1) my professional network had more men than women and 2) I did not really know how I could support women in a professional setting. These behaviors indicated to me that maybe I felt my professional network was stronger if it had more men than women.

Knowing I had this bias, I was determined to change it. I made concerted efforts to be a resource to the new female analyst at my previous employer. I encouraged her to take on new projects, provided advice on how to approach clients, and was prompt on answering any questions she had even after I left for business school.

I joined SWIM because I wanted to get to know more women and be part of the BTM Conference planning team.  The BTM Conference is a forum for developing actions that help break unconscious biases and identify ways to implement them. Becoming aware of my unconscious bias has improved how I interact with and support others. I look forward to identifying solutions for breaking unconscious biases with this year’s attendees and speakers. 

When Life's In Transition - By Sarah Vick

This past week, I had the pleasure of attending a panel themed “Mastering the Pivot.” The panel featured alumni from my alma mater, Stanford University, who had made dramatic shifts in their personal and professional lives, some by choice and others by necessity. One woman told her story of having her first child half-way through business school. Another panelist described how she completely restructured her life after a career ending injury in her final year of medical school. One of the audience members shared her experience transitioning back into an established company after years of self-employment. Across all of the stories told that evening, there were a few common themes – some inspiring and some validating – that I would love to share with you.

1)     Unconscious bias can play a role in any transition

In all of the stories, unconscious bias certainly played a part but it came in many forms. It might have manifested as lack of acceptance in a male-dominated finance department, outright discrimination in funding opportunities, or simply assumptions around working preferences. What these stories highlighted for me was that the impactful part of our unconscious bias story is not the specific barrier encountered, but the perseverance and ingenuity used to conquer it. For me it drove home, just how inspiring our mentors and peers can be in sharing their experiences. Moreover, the discussion made me even more excited for our upcoming Breaking the Mold conference, where we will focus on tools to break down unconscious bias.

2)     Community can pull us through a crisis

With most pivots, there is a moment of crisis. It is the moment when we are least sure of what the outcome will be, when everything seems uncertain, when we seem the furthest from the path we had envisioned. I asked the women on the panel, what helped them overcome that crisis moment and to a person, they said two things. First, you have to look forward. If you are not looking forward, you will never see the opportunities on the horizon. Second, each woman emphasized her support network. For many of us, self-reliance has become a central component of our success story, yet in defining moments of our life our community is absolutely critical. I unexpectedly encountered just this over the past few months of our Core semester with the organizing team for Breaking the Mold. Just when I think I am in over my head (and I most definitely am), my Content Team teammates and the other Co-Lead reach out with sage advice or even a lending hand.

3)     “You are stronger than you think you are.”

I am actually borrowing the quote from my yoga instructor, Rocky, but I think it describes an experience of inspiring women everywhere. If we were told ahead of time, here are all the challenges you will face and every obstacle you will overcome, we would probably doubt our chances for success. The reality is that we can (and will) succeed – that we are much stronger than we think we are. In the moment when we stand toe-to-toe with a challenge, we will do extraordinary feats. The stories I heard are evidence that while our goals will change and the path will take an unexpected turn (or five), we can individually and collectively achieve much more than even we know.

Lessons learned on the BTM Conference - By Lily Cheng

How much value is truly created by a room full of women gathering to talk about women’s issues when the problem is a systemic product of social biases held by both women and men? Do these almost exclusively female events further tie “women’s issues” to a certain social stigma?

As a member of MIT Sloan’s Society for Women in Management (SWIM) and former co-president of my undergraduate Society for Women in Business organization with heavy exposure to inclusive leadership and diversity training, I have attended my fair share of conferences and events geared towards women’s empowerment in business – an issue that I care deeply about. Each event has been inspiring both personally and professionally and has offered me phenomenal networking opportunities.

But I couldn’t help but wonder if the conferences I attended were involving the right set of people in the conversation towards driving real change.

Read the rest of Lily's article at:

http://mitsloanexperts.mit.edu/reframing-diversity-through-lessons-on-unconscious-bias/

PANEL SPOTLIGHT: MENTORSHIP IN THE WORKPLACE

MODERATOR

Julia Minson | Assistant Professor of Public Policy, Center for Public Leadership | Harvard Kennedy School

PANELISTS

David Epstein | EVP Content and Inventory Strategy | AMC Networks
Sandra Moose | Senior Advisor | BCG
Christi Shaw | US Country Head, President of Novartis Corporation and President of Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation
Hemal Vaidya | Principal | Deloitte
Mike Volpe | Chief Marketing Officer | HubSpot | Sloan alum

We know that finding a good mentor is crucial for professional development, and that seeking out mentors can be particularly challenging for underrepresented groups. How can we ensure that someone paving a new path in a company or industry is able to find the support and mentorship that he or she needs to succeed? Senior executives from a range of industries will share their reflections on the role of mentorship in their own careers and their advice for seeking and providing support to the next generation of leaders.

More info on this panel and speakers can be found here.

Friday, February 6th, 10:30-11:15 | MIT Media Lab

Workshop Spotlight: What Policing Can Teach Us About Navigating Unconscious Bias

Join us for an interactive workshop led by Anna Laszlo, Director of the organization Fair and Impartial Policing, to learn about dealing with unconscious bias in high-pressure situations, and the techniques we can use to manage our own biases and the impact of unconscious bias in the organizations that we help to shape. 

Two sessions: Friday February 6, 10:30-12 and 1-2:30. Both sessions will cover similar content.

ABOUT ANNA LASZLO

Anna T. Laszlo, MA is the Managing Partner of Fair and Impartial Policing, LLC and, with Dr. Fridell, the co-author/developer of the Fair and Impartial Policing training program. She brings more than 36 years’ experience directing national criminal justice and law enforcement training and technical assistance programs funded by the USDOJ and other Federal agencies. In addition to her work with FIP, LLC, she is working with the USDOJ, COPS Office to co-author Practicing Community Policing: A Practitioner’s Toolkit - a series of guides for law enforcement executives, practitioners, and elected officials. She is the co-author of The Collaboration Toolkit: How to Build, Fix and Sustain Effective Law Enforcement Collaborations.

More information about this workshop here.

Panel Spotlight: Moving Mindsets - How Industry Leaders are Bridging the Gender Gap

MODERATOR

Clara Brenner | Co-founder and CEO | Tumml | Sloan alumna

PANELISTS

Dr. Belen Carrillo-Rivas | Head of R&D Innovation Projects and Strategy, BioTherapeutics R&D | Pfizer
Sally Green | Former Chief Operating Officer | Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond | Sloan alumna
Debra Stabile | Managing Director and Chief Risk Officer | Citi Retail Services | Sloan alumna
Lisa M. Stapleton | Area Sales Director | Microsoft

Why do we see so few women in careers like finance and tech, and so many in careers like HR and K-12 Teaching? What are the challenges, and what needs to happen to overcome them? What are industry leaders doing to reverse the trend, and what can we as individuals do to bridge the gap? Senior executives from a range of industries will share their experiences forging new career paths and reflections on what works in bridging the gender gap.

More info on this panel and speakers can be found here.

Friday, February 6th, 1-1:45 | MIT Media Lab

 

 

 

Panel Spotlight: Role of Media in Creating and Breaking Sterotypes

Moderator: Anna Giraldo Kerr. CEO, Shades of Success. Huffington Post contributor with a focus on bias and the Latino community in the US

Panelists:

  • Christina Hsu. Marketing Executive and former CMO, Jumpstart
  • Soraya Chemaly. Feminist Writer, critic and activist
  • Julie Burton. President, Women's Media Center
  • Renata Mutis Black. Founder and Executive Director, Empowered by You

Media, including social media and advertising, represents tremendous platforms for connecting people, sharing information, and empowering voices across the globe. However, these channels can sometimes turn against women and other groups, such as when social media amplifies aggression against women or advertising promotes unhealthy or stereotyped ideals. What role does media have in creating and perpetuating stereotypes? What responsibility and scope does the industry have in redefining our associations, and what examples do we have of how this can be done? Join us for a discussion on the role that media plays in unconscious bias, and how these channels can become a force for good.

More info on panel and speakers here.

Friday, February 6th, 11:20-12 | MIT Media Lab

What Policing Can Teach Us About Unconscious Bias

By Maria Troein

A lot of my friends on Facebook have been posting about Ferguson over the past week. My instinct has been to think I don’t have that much to add beyond what’s already been said more eloquently by others. I’ve also been nervous about adding my voice to the mix. I’m not American, I’ve never been to Missouri, and even though everyone can mourn the tragedy of a lost life, I know that I don’t fully understand the complex history that’s led up to what’s going on in the US right now and what Ferguson represents.

What’s struck me about the friends who have posted on Facebook, and the classmates at Sloan who came to the packed lunch discussion today on Ferguson, was the wide range of people who care about this issue. People seem to be connecting what happened in Ferguson to broader patterns – both to broader patterns of racism in America, and maybe also to patterns of marginalization of other groups and in other places. Understanding what these patterns are and why events like Ferguson continue to happen feels important.

Last May, Elena Mendez recruited me to help plan an event at Sloan on unconscious bias. The event grew into a conference, and the conference grew into a four-month long initiative. Our team of two grew into a team of more than fifty. Virtually every event the team has organized this fall has been packed. I’ve been amazed by how much Sloan students care.

Among the many complex factors that led to what happened in Ferguson, the unconscious associations that many of us have between young black men and danger seems to have played a role. It’s incredibly frustrating to think that we can fight to make institutions more equal, and that we might think we’re treating everyone around us fairly, but that our unconscious associations can still lead us behave in ways that don’t fit with our values. How can we deal with biases that we aren’t even aware of?

Elena read an article about the danger of unconscious bias in policing that mentioned an organization called Fair and Impartial Policing, which trains police forces across the US in dealing with unconscious bias. In policing, snap decisions can literally mean the difference between life and death. In the corporate world, the many small decisions that we make every day may not seem important, but over time they lead to dramatic differences in career and life outcomes.

Elena reached out to Fair and Impartial Policing to ask if they could use their expertise to train us in how to tackle our unconscious biases. What can we do as individuals to make sure our behavior is consistent with our values? How can we set up our organizations to be as fair as possible?

They not only agreed to come, but offered to create a tailor-made training specifically for us, taking what they do for the police and translating those skills and approaches into the corporate world.

I don’t think unconscious bias was the only factor at play in Ferguson, but I think it was a part of the story, and learning how to deal with unconscious bias is my small way of trying to take a step in the right direction – not the only step, and not a big enough step to stop another Ferguson from happening, but still a step.

I’ve been amazed by the number of people at Sloan who seem to feel the same way. More than half of the tickets for the conference, which will include the training by Fair and Impartial Policing, are already gone. People who have signed up in these first few weeks have included men and women, students and faculty, local professionals and prospective students.

Unconscious bias isn’t the only issue I see when I read about Ferguson, but it’s something that I think is important, and that we can and should be working hard to address. Thank you Elena Mendez, the Breaking the Mold team and my classmates at Sloan for letting me be a part of doing something about it.

On Buzzcar, Big Macs, and B-School

By Andrea Schneider

When I decided that I would be applying to business school about two years ago, I was actually excited at the idea of professional networking. For about a year, after leaving work in the evenings, I would venture off to all sorts of events: American Chemical Society’s young professional meetups, networking nights at 85Broads (now known as Ellevate Network), female MBA info sessions from the Forté Foundation, and on top of all that, I went to as many conferences as I could afford.

About a year into my networking madness, I was a little jaded. I felt like I was treading water. I mean, I had met some very interesting people here and there, but nobody that I felt I really connected with. I wasn’t looking for a soul-mate or even a best friend. I just wanted to meet somebody who was going through what I was going through: the process of applying to business school.

Just as my round 2 b-school applications were coming due, a notification popped up on my calendar for an event that I signed up for a couple months prior. It was called “The Successful You: 2013 Women’s Leadership Forum” held right next to Sloan at the Microsoft NERD Center. I convinced a colleague of mine to sign up, and together we went.

So it’s just as I was losing all hope in networking – when my MBA application fuel was dwindling away – that happened upon an event that turned everything around (it seems like life is always tricky in that way). Here’s a run down of what went down at the Microsoft NERD Women’s Leadership Conference:

1.      Diane Ripstein, a professional communications consultant, gives a talk called “Get Ready for your Communication Moments” – and it was AWESOME. About six months later, I recognize her at my synagogue – she’s a member too. This is a very small world.

2.      During lunch I meet two awesome women: Tina Tang and Morgan Wang. I stay in contact with them after the event. Morgan becomes my classmate a year later, here at Sloan!

3.      Kathleen Kennedy speaks. She’s the Chief Strategy Officer at MIT Technology Review. 

4.      Robin ChaseSloan Alumna, serial entrepreneur, peer economy trendsetter and enthusiast, founder and former CEO of of Zipcar, co-founder of Veniam, and CEO of Buzzcar, speaks. Her talk is amazing. Afterwards, I add "entrepreneur" to the long list of things I want to do when I "grow up". She is truly inspiring.

My world got bigger because of this one great conference, and I couldn’t have been luckier on the timing.

If you’re reading this and wishing you could find your next big thing, I highly suggest that you sign up for a great conference that’s right around the corner: MIT Sloan’s Breaking the Mold Conference (which just so happens to be ending its early bird discount tomorrow). If you’re not currently a Sloan student, this is your chance to meet tons of Sloanies in a low-pressure environment. And of course, Sloanie or wannabe-Sloanie, you get to hear keynote speakers Robin Chase AND McDonald’s former President, Jan Fields!

Personally, I can’t say that I’ve had the honor to meet or speak with Jan Fields, but I am so looking forward to it. I hold a special reverence towards the fact that she made her way up the McDonald’s food chain (no pun intended), all the way from starting as a crew member at a Micky D’s in 1978 to becoming COO and finally President in 2010. Talk about success. Dear Jan Fields, can I be you?

Now I’m hungry for a Big Mac…

Until next time,

Andrea

Breaking the Mold, Starting with Myself

By Andrea Schneider

My blog is my own. I’m not given any guidelines, any script, any targets to meet. There’s no auditing – when I publish a post, it’s available for the whole world to see. That’s the most daunting fact. On one hand, it’s amazing to have such autonomy. On the other hand, I find it is almost impossible to be creative when there are no rules.

So this is going to be a themed blog post. On the Breaking the Mold initiative, which was created by MIT Sloan Women in Management to start a conversation about unconscious biases.

So back to the Breaking the Mold initiative. As with all initiatives at MIT Sloan (and MIT as a whole), it’s about action. What types of actions, you ask? Well, let’s talk about the events over the last 7 days.

Project Implicit Workshop

Dr. Carlee Hawkins from Harvard University’s Project Implicit came to give a workshop about uncovering implicit biases. I’ll describe it in one word: amazing. No, illuminating.

Before the workshop, I started thinking about what types of implicit biases I’ve run into in the past. There was this great cartoon I read a couple of months ago that tried to get at the implicit sexism that goes on in the tech industry. This was really close to home for me, as a female scientist, as I encountered similar gender balances as the tech industry. It goes something like this:

Medium: The Ping Pong Theory of Tech Sexism, by Ariel Schrag

It’s frustrating mostly because there is no easy solution. But this workshop brought us a bit closer to realizing our own biases, not just those of others (which, in my humble opinion, are usually easier to notice).

The workshop started by taking a broad perspective on what biases can look like. This was one of the first examples. You can try it out if you want.

Read aloud the following words:

Red   Green   Blue   Yellow   Black   Brown   Purple   Red   Green

Now state the colors of the fonts of the following words (not the words themselves):

It’s difficult to do, right? You’re conditioned to read the text, and then immediately asked to ignore it. You want to go by the directions prompted in the task, but your brain doesn’t want to let you.

After a few more superficial examples of implicit biases, Dr. Hawkins prodded us to dive deeper into some more meaningful biases. If I’ve sparked your interest at all, you should go onto the Project Implicit Website and try some of the implicit association tests offered.

I was slightly shocked to learn about my implicit biases. First, that I associate words related to “work” and “career” with men, and words related to “home” and “family” to women. How could a self-identified feminist be so biased against women’s careers? Well, I can’t say for sure, but probably from a lifetime of societal conditioning. But the good news is, now that I know about my bias, I can work to address it and keep myself from making biased choices that disempower women. Or at least try to recognize when I do.

Ask Me Anything: Africa

From Left to Right: Moderator Prof. Valerie Karplus, Panelists
Prof. Calestous Juma, Perihan Abou-Zeid, David Machingaidze, and Tuoyo Ebigbeyi.

This lunch panel was a great opportunity to ask questions about Africa, with no reason to hold back questions we thought were stupid or stereotype driven. It was meant to be a safe environment. Unfortunately, I don’t think we really felt as safe as we could’ve, maybe because it was such a short panel discussion that we didn’t get the chance to become comfortable with the setting. It was also in a huge classroom, which made it feel less intimate than it could have felt. For instance, I was surprised that nobody asked any questions related to the ebola epidemic.

That being said, we did get to ask some great questions. It was a great chat and I learned that I don’t know very much about Africa. But the feeling that I left with was that African problems are not much different than American problems. Bringing the issues close to home helped me to understand that maybe Africa is not such an enigma after all.

The Yarn

Storytellers at The Yarn: Breaking the Mold, from left to right: Alanna Hughes (HKS MPA ’16/MBA ’15), Emily Koepsell (LGO ’16), Ellie Yogev (MBA ’16), Cainon Coates (MBA ’15), Juliano Pereira (MBA ’15), and Elena Mendez Escobar (MBA ’15).

The Yarn is MIT Sloan’s version of NPR’s Moth Radio Hour. Last night, The Yarn and SWIM teamed up for a Breaking the Mold themed Yarn event. Sloanies told stories about when they broke the mold. I want to say more, but you really just had to be there. Thank you Alanna Hughes, Juliano Pereira, Cainon Coates, Ellie Yogev, Elena Mendez Escobar, and Emily Koepsell for bravely sharing your stories with us.

In the past seven days, I have learned so much about myself. Thank you, Breaking the Mold, for giving me the opportunity to grow.


Let’s Work on Breaking the Mold

By Hailey Crowel and Michelle Travis

A month into school, the 2016 Sloanies are now quite involved in activities on campus.  There are a number of career-focused clubs as well as a few less professionally-oriented organizations (Happy Belly Club, anyone?).  But as members of the Sloan Women in Management club (or SWIM for short), we’re particularly excited about the ongoing Breaking the Mold initiative.

Breaking the Mold is a series of events aimed at starting a conversation about unconscious bias and developing approaches to manage these biases on the road towards equal opportunity for all.  A number of SWIM members were inspired by the work of Project Implicit, a research effort concerning thoughts and feelings that occur outside of conscious awareness or control.  Truth is, many of us unknowingly make decisions based on inherent biases.  By better understanding those biases, we’ll hopefully be more mindful about the actions we take.  Countless research pieces suggest that diversity makes for better teams — and potentially better financial returns.

On September 29th, over 100 students attended the Breaking the Mold kickoff event, “Getting to Better Group Decisions – Why Who You Have in the Room Matters.”  Sloan professor Roberto Rigobon explained why we should all care about diversity in leadership groups, while Professor Evan Apfelbaum reviewed the emerging behavioral science research that speaks to some of the benefits of group diversity for making more accurate and objective decisions.  While these events are hosted by SWIM, in the kickoff it became clear that this is a concern that affects more than just women.

Throughout the fall Breaking the Mold will partner with other campus organizations to host a series of events and activities aimed at promoting diversity across MIT.  On October 29th, Breaking the Mold, GW@MIT, and MIT’s ICEO Office are sponsoring a workshop with Project ImplicitBreaking the Mold will also partner with GW@MIT’s fall leadership conference on October 31st for the first screening of the mini-documentary “MIT and the Status of Women in Science,” an inspiring story of how MIT changed the way colleges and universities recruit and promote women in science.  The screening will be followed by a panel discussion on the challenges ahead for women in science and how they can be addressed.  On November 3rd, we will host a Breaking the Mold themed storytelling night through Sloan’s tradition, The Yarn.

Finally, the programming will culminate in the annual SWIM Conference on February 6th, featuring Robin Chase, Zipcar and Buzzcar founder, and Jan Fields, Former President of McDonald’s, as keynote speakers.  For more information on these and other upcoming events check out:  http://www.mitbreakingthemold.com/.

Sloan Women's Week - How To Have It "All"

 by Rachel Hassas

As I wrap my summer internship in financial services in San Francisco, I am reflective on where my path will take me in the future.  Since it is Sloan Women's Week, I would like to touch on a somewhat taboo topic in business school - being a working mother.  I am not a mom (yet), but it is something I hope to have in the future as I am one who wants it "all" (ie: a challenging career AND a fulfilling family life).  Being at Sloan has taught me that this is more than possible. 

Two specific examples come to mind as women who have paved the way and demonstrated that it can be done:

  • I spent my spring break on an international study tour with two inspiring women.  They both gave birth the summer before starting at Sloan and have been able to balance the rigors of MBA life with being moms.  They taught me that you can’t wait for the “right” time to start a family and that your family can fit into your life at whatever point you are in.  They also taught me the importance of utilizing your support system – whether it be family and in-laws who babysit, a supportive spouse, dependable child-care, or ideally, all three.  Here is another great example of an MBA student/new mom, at the Wharton school.
  • During my summer internship I found many examples of women who had it all – senior positions at a large financial firm, a family at home, and a working spouse.  They were able to do it by working hard earlier on in their careers and making themselves indispensable, then starting a family and demanding flexibility.  Furthermore, they work smart and are able to accomplish as much in a shorter work day than their peers in a full day.  One of the best pieces of advice I got this summer was to never ask for a reduced schedule with reduced pay – you risk working just as much as everyone else to keep up, but getting paid less for it.  Instead, I was advised to perform at your best in the most efficient way possible to maximize time you have at home with a family.

Being a student has also shown me that there is still more work to be done.  There are still huge gaps for MBA grads as women are dropping out of the workforce at alarming rates.  This article outlines this issue as it relates to HBS, but I am certain it is not unique to their program.  To make the business world a better place for women in the future, I believe more woman have to stay engaged, demand flexibility, and mentor others who are faced with the same challenges.  I hope to be part of this change and I look forward to seeing what my fellow classmates do to move the needle as well.