Four young women — one black, two white, one Asian by way of Australia — explained to me how they had made it so far when so many other women had given up.

“Oh, that’s easy,” one of them said. “We’re the women who don’t give a crap.”

Don’t give a crap about — ?

“What people expect us to do.”

“Or not do.”

“Or about men not taking you seriously because you dress like a girl. I figure if you’re not going to take my science seriously because of how I look, that’s your problem” From [1].

[1] Eileen Pollack, Why Are There Still So Few Women in Science?
New York Times, October 3, 2013.
Eileen Pollack is a professor of creative writing at the University of Michigan and author of “Breaking and Entering” and “In the Mouth.” She is at work on a book about women in the sciences. She is also one of the first two women to graduate with a B.S. in Physics from Yale (in 1978). She offers a moving account of the challenges facing women in academic science.

[2] Women’s Global Leadership Conference In Energy and Technology
Houston, 29-30 October, 2013
My notes from conference speakers
I helped organize and attended this conference in Fall 2013. The notes above describe the views of Amity Shlaes and Deborah Byers as presented at the conference. Amity Shlaes is Director of the 4% Growth Project with the George Bush Institute, a Forbes columnist, Economics Professor with the MBA program at NYU/Stern, historian, and a national bestselling author. Deborah Byers is the Houston Office Managing Partner with Ernst & Young, LLP. Both women stress the importance of leaning out and establishing an identity firmly rooted in STEM education, and individual agency in thought and approach.

[3] Christine Lagarde, first female chief of the IMF
A former member of the French national synchronized swimming team, Lagarde has made a career of breaking glass ceilings in law, finance, and international leadership. Prior to becoming chief of the International Monetary Fund, she was the first female chair of the law firm Baker & McKenzie and as French finance minister was the first female finance minister in the Group of Eight advanced economies (G8). From a Vogue special on Lagarde:

“Altogether, she conforms to a profile common to women who project a steady hand and a cool head and are therefore acceptable to men as leaders of male-dominated organizations (characteristics that no doubt served her well as she struggled with how to bail out Greece—a country that was in danger of default on its debt repayments—amid serious rifts among other Eurozone governments and mounting problems within the U.S. economy, issues she had to plunge into solving from her first day on the job). Whether from the English Parliament or the American House of Representatives, such women are almost without exception smart, good-looking, married, or at least not on the prowl. Lagarde is five foot ten, handsome, poised, perfect, exuding confidence and charm, like a glamorous headmistress her students half fall in love with, half fear.”

Is this an accurate characterization of “such women?” If so, are such traits necessary for success in male-dominated spheres? Keep an eye on Lagarde- and check out her appearance on 60 minutes. Here is a brief video “Lagarde vs. the glass ceiling.”