In October 2008, I published an article here on Women on Business titled “Condoleeza Rice and Indra Nooyi Talk about Women, Business, and the Glass Ceiling.” In today’s look back at the Women on Business archives, you’ll see how right these women were in their insights at the time and how little progress has actually been made over the past five years in closing the business gender gap.
From the Women on Business Archives:
In late October, the 2008 Women’s Conference was held and featured speakers such as Gloria Steinem, Jennifer Lopez, Maria Shriver, Christianne Amanpour and more female leaders from various industries and walks of life.
A panel featuring Indra Nooyi, CEO of PepsiCo, and U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice (moderated by Campbell Brown) featured discussions on the glass ceiling for women, thoughts on Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton, and the need for women to reach out and help each other to succeed. The panelists also discussed education and the family sacrifices they had to make for their careers.
Following are some excerpts from the panel with Indra Nooyi and Condoleeza Rice:
Indra Nooyi about the glass ceiling: “I think there is a glass ceiling. But it’s glass, and glass means you can see through it and you can break through it. But it’s not easy. And the reason it’s not easy is because the people who are going to help you break through that glass ceiling, at least in my life, have all been men. I think the glass ceiling will go away when women help other women break through that glass ceiling. That’s what is really going to make a difference.”
Condoleeza Rice about the glass ceiling: “…it’s going to have to continue to be shattered by girls who really believe that they can be anything that they can be. And I’m not worried about those of us now. I’m worried about girls in the future. They have to see themselves as capable of being in math and science, in engineering. I think that is really the next glass ceiling, is in the hard sciences and in technology.”
Indra Nooyi on shifting focus to working women and mothers: “I think there’s a lot more that can be done. I still think childcare at work is not something that is available everywhere. I don’t believe we have taken flex work schedules to the ultimate still. Technology hasn’t really caught up in all companies. think leave policies after children are – you know, women give birth; that has not been addressed, still.
“I think there’s so much that can be done. And it’s got to happen at some point, because if you look at the demographics, if all companies cannot draw from the entire population pool and have to draw only from a small population pool, I don’t think we can keep up our growth.
“So we need women in the companies. We need the best people, whether they’re women or men. But some of the brightest candidates we interview are the women. So we have to provide an environment where we bring them in, and – I think – I don’t know if it’s government. I think corporations can do a lot, and I think we have to set the example for government to then follow.”
Condoleeza Rice’s advice: “The most important piece of advice that I can give is, don’t let somebody else define what you ought to be and what you want to be. … Do what you love and forget the rest of it.”
Insightful quotes from two amazing women, don’t you think?