January 6, 2010

In a New Age, All Women Need to Work Together

Whether it’s baseball, climate change or Taylor Swift, each generation needs to know enough to follow a conversation about current events and a little pop culture. Cruise Hulu and read the Huffington Post, no matter how old you are.

And don’t make assumptions about younger men based on older ones: The younger set cooks, are engaged parents and can converse about a broad array of topics.

Also, keep in mind that with the possible exception of your own children, no one wants you as a parent. Your requests should have demonstrable merit and be made in a collegial fashion.

When you disagree with an idea, try asking questions that elicit more detailed thought about what’s been proposed. “Because I said so” works only if you are signing the paychecks, but it also creates subversive activities. There’s a reason TV’s “The Office” is so popular.

Younger women have grown up with rights older women lacked. Older women had to have their husband’s permission to get a library card; the younger ones believe real freedom means choosing to do what you want, regardless of how it may look to others. It is sometimes a naive perspective, but that freedom is the reason we all fight for equal pay.

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright once said, “There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.” If ever there was a summary of the wisdom we can take from earlier generations, Ms. Albright said it.

With the resonation of her words among the latest generation of women to enter the corporate world, we’re reminded that, although we have reached these heights, we must keep climbing. But only when we truly learn to work with, not against, each other can we all reach the universally sought-after summit.

And remember that so much of what we need do, in the great scheme of the universe, is a bit absurd. If you can laugh about it, and even make others laugh, you can get through the rough spots – together.

This article, by Carole J. Fuller, Andrea Naddaff and Amanda Zantal-Wiener, originally appeared in the Boston Herald on January 1, 2010

Carole J. Fuller is senior donor relations officer, development, at Smith College. Andrea Naddaff is vice president of business development and a partner at Corey McPherson Nash and Amanda Zantal-Wiener consults with the firm. Fuller hired Naddaff early in her career and then Naddaff hired Zantal-Wiener.

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