Better Career Advice For Women

On a recent Monday morning, Kathryn Ferris, a 32-year-old financial analyst, had a weekly 6:15 appointment with her formal mentor at a lower Manhattan office for a 40-minute debrief of the previous work week. She spent the next 11 hours in front of three computer screens, checking in twice with the nanny about her three-year-old twins. At 6pm, when her male colleagues hit the gym before evenings out with clients, Faris caught the subway to the New York Public Library where her women’s group meets for networking and advice twice a month.

Then it was back downtown to Cipriani to meet clients and colleagues. “There aren’t many women in my group, and it seems to be general consensus that it’s best to have at least one of us there when we’re entertaining.” As a result, she says she’s out at least three nights a week. By 10 pm she was on the train to the New Jersey suburb where she lives, not catching a nap on the hour long ride, but working on a pitch she wanted to brainstorm with a mentor the next day. That’s right, another one.


Ferris, who says she’s been working at this pace since returning from maternity leave in 2009 finds it nearly impossible to compare her lifestyle with her male colleagues. “The guys come to work and go home. No one talks about career advancement strategy or mentoring with them, and yet they get the majority of the promotions.” For Ferris and her female peers, however, the pressure is on. “I just don’t feel like I can afford to pass up any opportunity, even if it means being ‘on’ way more than I want to.”

“We’re putting a lot on younger women,” said Sallie Krawcheck, former president of global wealth & investing for Merrill Lynch at a recent ForbesWoman panel discussion. “[Telling them that] In order to be successful you need to ask for more money in this way, you need to raise your hand in that way, you need to do things that you weren’t brought up to do or are not comfortable doing. By the way, you need to join this woman’s network and go into that mentoring program… And what’s happened is [that] we’re not necessarily bringing women forward as much as we’re just making them busier.”



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