01 Dec 2012

WSA Speakers Kick Off W50

Re: Debora Spar (PMD 62)


In October, the Women's Student Association (WSA) hosted two speakers on campus as part of the School's yearlong celebration of women at HBS. "We're here to start a conversation about how we can accelerate the advancement of women leaders who make a difference in the world," said Parker Woltz, the WSA's copresident with Deborah Singer (both HBS 2013).

Barnard College President Debora Spar (PMD 62, 1991), a former HBS faculty member, described the conundrum facing women today: Despite enormous gains, the percentage of women in leadership positions levels off at no more than 16 percent. Early feminists, Spar suggested, addressed the more obvious policy issues within the system; the remaining, largely cultural issues are much subtler, and more difficult to address. "Because young women can do anything, they think that they have to do everything," she said. "Ultimately, we have to convince women themselves that feminism is a social movement. It's not a 12-step program for personal perfection."

Director of Policy Planning in the US State Department until early 2011, Princeton professor Anne-Marie Slaughter spoke on her much-read Atlantic magazine article, "Why Women Still Can't Have It All." Slaughter cited the importance of flextime and of having a longer-term perspective on the arc of one's career, adding that she believed a "huge norm shift" in attitudes toward work-life balance is entirely possible in a short period of time. "We'll be better off as a society, and much happier as a result," she told a standing-room only audience gathered in Spangler Auditorium.


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