Women Lead

Career Perspectives from Workplace Leaders

by Tracey Wilen-Daugenti (Volume editor) Courtney L. Vien (Volume editor) Caroline Molina-Ray (Volume editor)
©2013 Textbook VIII, 258 Pages


Women are taking the lead in today’s workforce. They hold half of America’s jobs, 51% of supervisory and managerial positions, and nearly 60% of all college degrees. A woman starts a business in the U.S. every 60 seconds. Without women, the U.S. economy would be 25% smaller than it is today.
Women Lead is an in-depth examination of women’s role in today’s workplace. Drawing on interviews with nearly 200 women leaders, and survey responses from more than 3000 male and female managers, the book explains 21st-century career trends and provides practical advice to help women excel in the new world of work. Readers will discover facts, figures, and real-life stories about leadership, education, and career planning, and learn how women are using negotiation, networking, and other collaborative practices to lead their organizations into the future.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the editors
  • About the book
  • Advance Praise for Women Lead
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • Foreword by Gail M. Romero
  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction: Navigating a Changing Workforce in the Woman’s Century
  • 1. The Future of Work: Why Women Will Thrive in Tomorrow’s Complex, Connected, and Decentralized Workplace
  • 2. Women Lead: How Women Are Making Companies More Profitable, Innovative, and Equitable
  • 3. Women in the Workforce: Opportunities for Women in the New Economy
  • 4. Forging Their Own Paths: Self-Employed Women, Small-Business Owners, and Entrepreneurs
  • 5. Education and Skills: A Woman’s Toolkit for the Future
  • 6. Technology: How Being Tech Savvy Can Give Women an Edge
  • 7. Negotiation: The Woman’s Advantage
  • 8. The Labyrinth of Life: How Women Are Reshaping Work, Family Life, and Retirement
  • 9. The Roadmap to Success: (Has Many Twists and Turns): Planning Your Career and Leaving Room for Serendipity
  • 10. Mentoring and Networking: Make Your Connections Work for You
  • 11. Women to Women: Life Lessons from Mothers and Daughters
  • Conclusion: Leadership in the 21st Century
  • Leadership Survey Methodology and Questions
  • Women Quoted in This Book
  • Endnotes
  • Bibliography
  • Index



Women lead, and they certainly rule. Empowered women are creating a sustainable future for upcoming generations, who will benefit from their vast social and economic contributions.

Women continue to command attention on the global stage, as exemplified by the three who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011 for their efforts to secure women’s safety and rights. For the first time ever, all nations participating in the 2012 Olympic Games had female athletes competing, and in another first, female U.S. athletes outnumbered U.S. male athletes. Women at the highest levels of global leadership—from the Chancellor of the EU’s most economically vibrant country, to the first female head of state in Africa, to the U.S. Secretary of State—provide inspiring examples of just what is possible when young women have a dream and a path to attain it.

Right here at home, women are a powerful economic force. Between 1970 and 2009, women went from holding 37% of all jobs to nearly 48%—without these 38 million more female workers our economy would be 25% smaller today. Currently, more than half of American women are breadwinners. Increasing numbers of female entrepreneurs and women in the C-suite are also helping to drive an economic revival: Fortune 500 companies with the most women board directors outperform those with the fewest by 26%. ← vii | viii →

Clearly, the rest of this century holds great promise for women and for the societies and economies that will benefit from their vision. This book alone contains insights from 200 women leaders as to how they carved their own path as well as perspectives from more than 3,000 male and female managers on 21st-century leadership. Examples of successful women from diverse industries provide a blueprint for anyone who has set her sights on bettering our world. Through their words and experiences, these women impart a unique knowledge that can help empower future female visionaries and drive global prosperity for generations to come.

Gail M. Romero CEO, MBA Women International

← viii | ix →



Sincerest thanks go to the dozens of women leaders whose insights, advice, and personal anecdotes appear throughout this book. You showed us how powerful and inspiring women can be, and we’re honored to be able to pass on your words of wisdom.

This book arose from a collaborative effort by the Apollo Research Institute team. As general editor, Dr. Tracey Wilen-Daugenti drew on her experience as author of seven previous books on women in business to shape the themes, structure, and style of the book and to oversee its development. In the process, she modeled many of the 21st-century leadership skills and attributes discussed in the book—perhaps most notably professional networking, as she sought out and interviewed more than 200 women leaders who contributed their perspectives, advice, and stories. She also drove the creative development of the Women Lead inspirational video* that captures the voices of several of the women interviewed and reinforces their message of women’s leadership. Dr. Courtney L. Vien served as both the book’s primary author and its coeditor, weaving hundreds of research sources and interview transcripts into a compelling “storyline.” Her analytical precision and literary sensibility gave the book its elegant and energetic voice. Caroline Molina-Ray, PhD, served as managing editor to oversee the book’s quantitative research components, integrate the work of the research, editorial, and design teams, and to develop the video script. ← ix | x →

The editors thank the following Apollo Research Institute team members: Sheila Bodell, for keeping us apprised of women- and workplace-related trends and media coverage through environmental scanning, for mining library databases, and for indexing the book; Bethany L. Peters, PhD, for developing and executing the 21st-century leadership survey and making it a source of rich empirical data; Joseph Kirchner, PhD, for consulting on the quantitative research; Sunanda Vittal, for the thought-provoking perspective on women and technology she brought to the writing of Chapter 6; Corinne Lyon Kunzle, for her project management and for coordinating communications among the production teams; Jill Jensen, for arranging and tracking the interviews and for ensuring compliance with legal and copyright standards; Laura A. Long, for her editorial assistance with the interview transcripts and for compiling the reference list; James M. Fraleigh, for his meticulous copyediting and proofreading; Graham B. Smith, for the book’s graphics and cover design; Christine Eveker, for her editorial insights and her oversight of the Women Lead video production; and Michael Shaw and Brad DeForest, for designing and developing the Women Lead web page on the Apollo Research Institute website, www.apolloresearchinstitute.org.

Apollo Research Institute also thanks the Peter Lang Publishing/USA team for their work to bring this book to print.


*The 2-minute Women Lead video is available at www.apolloresearchinstitute.org. ← x | 1 →



Navigating a Changing Workforce in the Woman’s Century

Will the 21st century be the century of the woman? Consider these statistics:

             Women make up half the US workforce and hold 51.4% of all managerial and professional jobs and almost half of all banking and insurance jobs.1

             A woman starts a business every 60 seconds.2

             Forty-one percent of women in dual-earner households earn as much or more than their husbands or partners.3

             Fifty-seven percent of college students are now female. Women outpace men in earning master’s and doctoral degrees,4 and comprise 49% of medical students5 and 48% of law school graduates.6

             Companies with more women in leadership positions see higher profits, stock price growth, return to shareholders, and returns on equity, sales, and invested capital than companies with few women executives.7

             Studies show that female business leaders outperform men on a wide variety of leadership traits, including adaptability, innovation, people skills, and strategic drive.8 ← 1 | 2 →

             Eighty-nine percent of Americans are comfortable with women as leaders, compared to 77% in 2002.9

             The percentage of women ages 25–34 with a bachelor’s degree has more than tripled since 1986, while the share of men in that cohort with a bachelor’s degree has grown by only half.10

             In 2008, women in dual-earner couples contributed 45% of annual family income—39% more than they did in 1997.11

             Between 1997 and 2011, the number of woman-owned businesses increased by 50%: 1.5 times the growth rate of businesses as a whole.12

             If US women-owned businesses were their own country, it would have the fifth-largest GDP in the world, ahead of France, the United Kingdom, and Italy.13

Compare those facts to the status of women just a few decades ago—when women comprised only a third of the workforce14 and just 11% of working women had graduated from college15—and it’s not hard to see why the rise of women has brought sweeping changes to the workplace and the economy.

In fact, some theorists claim that the technological and demographic shifts of the past 20 years have created an economy highly congenial to women. As the United States transitions from an industrial, goods-producing economy to an information-based service economy, fewer jobs will be dependent on manual labor, making physical strength far less of an asset. Instead, employees will be valued for their intellect, education, interpersonal skills, and capacity for lifelong learning—characteristics women possess in abundance. Women’s greater educational achievements, coupled with their propensity for teamwork and communication, will likely prime them for success in the emerging workforce, where most stable, well-paying jobs require at least a bachelor’s degree. Likewise, as technological advancements enable workplace cultures to become less hierarchical and more democratic and participative, the transformational and collaborative style of leadership practiced by many women will become increasingly relevant.

Demographics, too, are on women’s side. As Baby Boomers retire, they’re being replaced by Generation Xers and Millennials, cohorts that have never thought it unusual for women to go to college or work outside the home. These younger workers will have inherited fewer biases about women’s leadership potential. At the same time, companies are increasingly recognizing the value of gender and ethnic diversity, which has been shown to increase innovation while reflecting a more heterogeneous customer base, and many are actively seeking to increase women’s participation at all levels. ← 2 | 3 →

A Woman’s Manual for the New Century: About This Book

Clearly, the 21st century holds great promise for women. But many women say they’d appreciate some advice on how to navigate today’s complex and ever-shifting workplace. To address this need, Apollo Research Institute conducted a comprehensive study of women’s careers and leadership using three means of investigation: 1) examining the scholarly literature and news media on women’s career trends, 2) interviewing women leaders about their own careers, and 3) surveying male and female managers about what it takes to lead in the 21st-century workplace.

In an intense environmental scanning effort, our researchers mined databases for hundreds of academic articles and scanned national media outlets and trade publications to gather information on trends affecting women’s work and family lives. Key findings from our analysis of the literature are woven throughout the book.

Next, believing that women can best learn from others who have gone before them, Dr. Tracey Wilen-Daugenti, vice president and managing director of Apollo Research Institute, interviewed more than 200 female leaders on topics ranging from career paths to education to technology to getting ahead on the job. These women represent a wide variety of sectors, including healthcare, business services, manufacturing, finance, K-12 and higher education, law, technology, government, and nonprofits, and hold such titles as CEO, COO, CFO, CTO, CIO, president, owner, founder, senior vice president, and dean. They candidly shared their views on the changing status of women and opportunities for women in their fields, and their advice on achieving work-life balance and forging a satisfying career path. This book draws largely on these women’s perspectives of career planning and success.

In addition, the book presents the results of an Apollo Research study on gender, generation, and leadership. Researchers surveyed more than 3,000 male and female manager-level professionals from three generations (Baby Boomers, Generation Xers, and Millennials) in diverse industries: IT and telecommunications, healthcare, business services, manufacturing, and others. Respondents were asked such questions as which skills and attributes are most important for 21st-century leadership; how well male and female leaders demonstrate these skills and attributes; what type of education is most important for leaders to have; and at what age men and women become effective leaders. The compelling results appear throughout this book. (A fuller description of the survey methodology and a list of the survey questions appear at the end of the book.)

These multiple forms of research yield insights into women’s careers and leadership from three vantage points: societal trends as seen through the lenses of ← 3 | 4 → academia and the media, women’s personal testimonials, and empirical evidence from survey results. Together, they provide a rich and detailed portrait of how women see themselves and are seen in the workplace and at home. They also present a wealth of data, candid advice, and tested strategies women can use to achieve success in an ever-changing workplace.

Overview of the Book


VIII, 258
ISBN (Softcover)
ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2017 (June)
workforce examination interviews survey practical advice
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, Oxford, Wien, 2013. 258 pp., num. coloured ill.

Biographical notes

Tracey Wilen-Daugenti (Volume editor) Courtney L. Vien (Volume editor) Caroline Molina-Ray (Volume editor)

Tracey Wilen-Daugenti is Vice President and Managing Director of Apollo Research Institute and Visiting Scholar at Stanford University’s Media X program. Courtney L. Vien is Senior Editor at Apollo Research Institute. Caroline Molina-Ray, PhD, is Apollo Research Institute’s Executive Director of Research and Publications.


Title: Women Lead
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274 pages