Friday, June 26, 2009

Why Women Should Rule the World

Don’t women already rule the world? My first guest blogger on Navy Reads… Lt.j.g. Theresa Donnelly puts Dee Dee Myers’s Why Women Should Rule the World in perspective. For more information on Theresa’s take on women and diversity in the Navy – and a full report on the recent Sea Services Leadership Association symposium – you may wish to visit GI Jess’s blog. No question about Navy's commitment

to diversity.

Guest Perspective on SSLA Symposium

by Lt.j.g. Theresa Donnelly

The Sea Services Leadership Association symposium, held June 18-19, honored women leaders, presented networking opportunities and promoted mentoring in the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard.

For a list of keynote speakers, please check out my more detailed blog post on another friend’s blog (GI Jess). For Bill’s Navy Reads, I wanted to concentrate on how Dee Dee Myers opened my mind to a “woman’s place” in this world.

Dee Dee Myers, who comes from a Navy family, spoke about being the first female White House Press Secretary in the first two years of President Clinton’s administration in 1992 and 1993.

All attendees got free copies of her book, “Why Women Should Rule the World” (for which she kindly stayed afterwards and signed) and in her book, as well as in her speech, she brought up many interesting observations about women in the workplace. For example, women tend to be more collaborative and consensus building than men. Also, companies who employ more women tend to offer more perspectives, fresh ideas and varied experiences. In her book, Myers cites several examples where women have enabled peace processes in war-torn countries and have been crucial to the rebuilding of nations, such as Rwanda after the 1994 genocide. She sites numerous examples of the positive impact women have made in business, politics and education.

But, even with those great examples, I still found some of the statistics about women in business disheartening, like that only 2.6 percent of heads of Fortune 500 companies are women, Or, that only 16 percent of seats in the House and Senate are filled by women.

Even in the Navy, with all the initiatives to facilitate more women in the Navy’s highest positions, the number of female CMCs was quite disappointing. According to Master Chief Jackie DiRosa, director, CMC Management Office “We have 57 female CMCs, out of approximately 760 CMCs total (AC/FTS numbers). We have nearly 160 female Master Chiefs of which 57 are CMCs. However, keep in mind that MCPOs are one percent of the total force...nearly 3000 strong. Yet out of nearly 3000 MCPOs, only 160 are female.”

These numbers alone demonstrate that women still have a long way to go in being equally represented in the workforce. Especially, when one considers that (as mentioned in Myers book), “women (in the U.S.) now earn 60 percent of all bachelor’s and master’s degrees.”

So my question is, if the U.S. has so many educated women, why are they not in the top political, medical, educational, military and other professional positions? The book (which I devoured on my plane ride back to Hawaii) cites many reasons including not enough women who ask for promotions and how many women feel forced to leave their jobs because of their difficulties balancing having a family with their work life.

Much progress has been made in terms of women, but many small subtleties still exist. I feel these can be setbacks to women’s advancement, such as the informal networks men have like a golf outing where talks of promotions can (and do) happen. Or, another example might be when a man re-words an idea that the lone women just said in a meeting. These are the type of barriers we discussed and ways women can overcome these obstacles.

Myers also spoke of her time as press secretary as a great experience, but said she still lacked the authority to really have the kind of power she needed to perform certain functions, and that many times she was left out of some very important decisions she needed to convey to the press. She had many reservations about taking the job because President Clinton assigned George Stephanopoulos as director of communications, making Myers a back-up briefer. This was the first time in history the job was split up in this fashion, and it led to a lot of overlap between job duties.

Stephanopoulous, now chief Washington correspondent and anchor of ABC News’s This Week, writes, “Smart, funny, and tough — Dee Dee Myers may not have ruled the world, but she held her own at the highest levels of the White House. Here she shows how she did it, what she learned, and what all women should know about how to succeed and lead in a world where the deck is all too often stacked against them.”

Mary Matalin, former counselor to President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, writes, “Women around the world are rewriting history at a ferocious pace with or without permission. Though provocatively titled, Why Women Should Rule the World is no polemic, but a deeply researched, evocative rendering of this transformation in progress. Dee Dee’s own personal and professional history is a frontline testimonial to women creating their own reality and in so doing changing the world’s.”

Myers’s book follows in the footsteps of Torie Clarke’s Lipstick on a Pig, a great read, also from behind the scenes in the White House.

In Lipstick, Clarke writes about her experience as press secretary to Senator John McCain, serving on the staffs of Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, and working in the Pentagon as Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs during President George W. Bush’s first term in office, for Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Clarke offers a clear-eyed treatise on the need for honesty and transparency in government. -- Bill Doughty

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Father’s Day Perspective

By Bill Doughty

My grandfather fought in “The Great War,” World War I the one that was supposed to end all wars... He fought for Germany, and had a jagged scar from a French bayonet that went through his arm, shrapnel in his neck and scars on various other parts of his body.

He remembered the horrors of the trenches the gas, the terror, the gangrene and the rats. A quiet, creative and spiritual man who before and after the war made a living as a chef in Europe and in the States, my grandfather was also physically very strong and powerful.
He and my grandmother escaped Germany after the war, just as the German economy imploded but, thankfully, before the Third Reich’s talons clawed out of the ashes.
So that they could start a family in the United States, free and safe, my grandparents had to say goodbye to their loved ones in Germany. In most cases it was a forever goodbye.
I was about 10 when my grandfather and I looked at his old black-and-white coffee-table-sized book about WWI. Now, you can find similar types of books, but with better photography, printed on better paper. They’re easy to find in the bargain section at Borders or Barnes and Noble, but in 1964 there were no such mega book franchises, and books were more valued and valuable, or so it seems.
Like today, in 1964 war raged in remote areas of the world, including in a place whose name we were all learning: Vietnam. It was the year the Beatles and the Ford Mustang made their debut in the U.S., plans were announced to build the New York World Trade Center, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was awarded the Nobel Peace prize.
But, this post isn’t about war and peace, per se, or about that big old picture book, or even about my beloved grandfather.
It’s about perspective.
In a way, it’s about our understanding of history, too.
I was born in 1954, the year the Supreme Court ruled in Brown v. Board of Education that segregation of schools was unconstitutional. It was also the year Tolkien published two of his Rings books, William Golding published Lord of the Flies, and Hemingway won the Nobel Prize for Literature.
If I subtract my current age, 55, from the year I was born, we go back to 1899, the 19th Century! It was the year the Spanish-American War ended (our Senate ratified the Paris Peace Treaty by only one vote on Feb. 6, 1899), the Philippine-American War, also known as the Philippine Insurrection, started and Ernest Hemingway was born. Old Man and the... See?
Back another 55 years – 1844, the year the first telegram was sent, James Polk defeated Henry Clay and the Mexican-American War, though not officially proclaimed, was in full effect. One year later, 1845, the U.S. Naval Academy would be established, the U.S. would annex Texas and Frederick Douglass would ignite the anti-slavery abolitionist movement with his writings, fueled a few years later with the publication of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin, a book Abraham Lincoln said helped start the Civil War.
Go back one more chunk of 55 years, and it’s 1789, the year of our first presidential election, in which George Washington was elected to the first of his two terms and John Adams became the first vice president – just 13 years after Thomas Paine’s Common Sense and the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
The point is not that I’m old (that’s besides the point)... Getting older gives you perspective.
So, now I imagine the perspective my grandfather had, his understanding of the world and history and the love he had for his adopted country. Like most American families, we enjoy our gifts of freedom because of generations who sacrificed so much.
It’s intriguing to consider some of the great thinkers in literature and science, using my own lifespan so far of (only) 55 years as a yardstick. Those authors’ voices don’t seem so far away. They seem more relevant and alive than ever.
Think how many advances there have been since 1789, 1844, 1899, 1954 not just in technology but also in our understanding of the mysteries of the universe and the mind. These mysteries can sometimes be revealed in books, now with an even greater diversity of voices from which to learn.
As a nation we are still riding the wave of the Enlightenment and its direct effect: the beginning of the United States of America.
What will we say about 2009? Who can even imagine our world in 2064, 55 years from now?
Will we learn the lessons of the past? Or, as we read from Santayana and Huxley, are we condemned to repeat our history?
I wonder what my late grandfather would say. He and my grandmother certainly applied the lessons of history and, in doing so, provided a better world for their descendants.
Happy Father’s Day, Pop-pop.
Coming soon, an updated review of David McCullough’s 1776.