Why Women Don’t Grab The Brass Ring

brass ring

There are sharply different views of women and men in the workplace, according to findings of a major study conducted this fall by LeanIn.Org and McKinsey & Co. The study gathered data on promotions, attrition and career paths at 118 companies and surveyed nearly 30,000 men and women in the workplace.

Equal numbers of men and women say they want to be promoted; but as men’s desires for big jobs rises over their careers, only 43% of women say they want to be a top executive, according to the research. Today, women make up only 17% of people in the executive suite. The survey shows that women are 15% less likely than men to be promoted to the next level. That means at the current pace, it will be more than a century before there is gender equality in the C-suite.

The business women I know don’t lack for ambition. Women who work in a farming operations are made up of pure grit and love of the land. But rural America has the same issues with fewer women than men owning and running businesses as they do in the corporate world.

Why is this? I’m no social scientist, but much of women’s progress in rural America is cultural: for decades women worked inside the farmhouse, men worked outside. There is no wrong to this cultural pattern, but it may have precluded many daughters from coming back to the farm.

That’s not the case today. Times are changing and I see more and more young women coming back to the farm to work side-by-side with their fathers and brothers. I see women who have MBAs coming home to manage the business side of the operation. I see more women owning farms and developing diversity in ag operations: livestock subsidiaries, farmer’s market offerings, agritourism, and high-tech ideas for sustainable row crop farming.

As I always say, it takes brains to run a farm these days, not just brawn. The more women realize this about the vocation of farming, the more women will be able to grab the brass ring of ownership in agriculture.

Too Busy For Your Business?

How many times a week do you hear the words “I’m too busy” from a friend or colleague? It seems we are all busy. Too busy. Soooooo busy. Over the course of my career, and now with kids ranging from second grade to high school, I have often answered the request for a business project with the words “I’m too busy.”

But are we all really TOO busy? Or are our priorities in the wrong order? There is an entire genre of nonfiction dedicated to organizing, cleaning up and freeing up time in your life (trust me, I’ve read them all). But I believe the best advice boils down to just a couple of simple tips:

  1. Let go of perfectionism. Many women are overachievers, a habit that can develop from an early age. A healthier option is not to aim for perfection, but to aim for EXCELLENCE.
  2. Unplug. Man I love this one. So many women set up their business so they can work from home. Great idea, right! Yes, but work-at-home situations can also mean a loss of boundaries. It took me a long time to learn to not check emails constantly (and I honestly still glance at them while stirring spaghetti). But the time away from our phones is time to reenergize.
  3. Get a life. I used to have a life, way back in my 20s. Then I became a professional and then a mother. And then my life became someone else’s life. I can be resentful…or I can go find hobbies outside of work and kids. I recently started horseback riding again, something I relished in my youth on our ranch. What I love most about this activity is that it’s truly impossible to cantor a horse and check email on your iPhone (I have tried). So for one hour I can put away the world. One hour equals a lifetime in some stressful weeks.

Work/life balance is all the rage, but I honestly don’t believe there is a balance. Instead, I believe there is a season in life for all things. There is a season on the farm when work comes first (planting, harvest). There is a season in life when kids take priority. And there is a season when your business demands your full attention. Can we have it all? Yes, but maybe not all at the same time.

I challenge you this week to let go of perfectionism, unplug and get a life. Maybe not in that order! Your business will benefit from those three things.