AAPOR Women Leaders Share Their Insights #AAPOR #MRX


AAPOR… Live blogging from beautiful Boston, any errors are my own…

Lessons in Leadership: AAPOR Women Leaders Share Their Insights;

Organizer: Anna Wiencrot, NORC at the University of Chicago
Moderator: Angie Gels, The Nielsen Company
Panelists: Mollyann Brodie, The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation Courtney Kennedy, Abt SRBI Nancy Mathiowetz, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Eileen O’Brien, Energy Information Administration, U.S. Department of Energy

  • “There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women”
  • “Whatever you are, be a good one”
  • “Big deep breaths”
  • “Do your best, one shot at a time, then move on”
  • (all the panelists have children)  [why does this matter? male leaders don’t start a talk by listing off their kids]
  • This is a global phenomenon, and perhaps the US is behind – 17 world leaders in power and mostly in developing countries
  • Women aren’t always taught they can be successful in careers, “not the right time for me”
  • Need to focus on ensuring women are allowed/able to advance
  •  The female brain is wired differently, less aggression, more multitasking/big picture, more gut feeling, more worry
  • Women speak 20 000 words a day compared to men 7000. Female babies make more eye contact. These are untapped skills.
  • Maximize connecting, optimism, big picture thinking, intuition, negotiation
  • Minimize emotion, worry, staying in the background, multitasking, urge to “fix” – You don’t need to be everywhere doing everything

Eileen O’Brien

  • Hang around the people who bring out the best in you, her best teachers were science/math so she hung around them
  • She had thoughts of “the timing isn’t right” but went ahead anyways, also thoughts of “there’s more to this” and pursued the “more” several times
  • If people don’t know you by your first name, then you’re not reaching out
  • Write it down.
  • Bring someone with you who might not get there without your wisdom.
  • It’s okay to be 80% prepared.
  • [sorry, hard to hear this speaker]

Courtney Kennedy

  • Went to an interview that sounded interesting, was asked “have you ever worked with microsoft excel?”, she said yes even though she hadn’t, she got the job a week later, wonders if her entire future hinged on that one answer – she’s not recommending lying🙂  You need to take initiative and responsibility for taking yourself to the next level. She bought an Excel for Dummies book on her way home from the interview and spent 3 days learning it
  • Got involved in AAPOR early, introduced to people, felt part of the family in this community
  • A mentor helped guide her, told her to take statistics even though she’d hate it, she would have never done this without him telling her
  • not everyone needs to be quantitative but build your statistical capabilities can open doors professionally, make you more marketable
  • Another mentor let her co-author to get a track record of publications [I like to do this but people are too chicken to take me up on my offers🙂 ]
  • Geography is important – where you live affects your career, a one career man can move their family and no one thinks of it. A household with two professionals doesn’t work that way. Hard to move back to DC, where she’d love to be now that they are settled elsewhere.
  • Smell the roses.

Mollyann Brodie

  • Careers seem linear and well planned when you look back at them but during the process, they aren’t. Every decision is unclear along the way.
  • Followed interests and passion at each decision point, trusted instinct of what felt like the right fit
  • In grad school, the course track is clear – which courses to take. But she took a path that wasn’t so clear.
  • Try to identify your skills, organization, people person, “committee girl”, managing egos, getting things done, it’s more than being an analyst
  • She is harder on herself than anyone else, don’t let it stop you, assess your own performance as other would, don’t over criticize, give credit where credit is do, don’t be embarrased by your own success
  • There are normally multiple mentors. Those who give you opportunities. Successful people you watch how they act and treat others, you don’t need to have a mentor role to mentor, people are simply watching. Third group of people who make you say I will not do that, and they can be the most powerful shapers.
  • Leaders need to be conscious of challenges of our people to maintain work and family responsibilities, work life balance, be fair and honest about flexibility with the whole team, there is a cost to picking up the slack but it is important to do
  • Managing maternity leaves is the right thing to do even though it is stressful for everyone, you get a conscientious team who know you value them, the work place needs to be more conscious of balancing life so we are more well-rounded
  • Don’t be in such a hurry, there is no rush. You work for a really long time. Worst mistake she made was to end a job and start a new job in another city in a couple of days.
  • Take more vacations.

Nancy Mathiowetz

  • The journey isn’t linear
  • Went to the school where she was beginning her grad degree and asked if they had a job – even though they don’t normally hire newbies. She asked to work for free and they eventually found money for her. Through this she realized she was in the wrong program and switched her Phd program
  • Left school ABD (all but dissertation), 2 years later, an employer gave her 25% of time to finish her Phd
  • Path looks crazy but make opportunities yourself, you don’t need to explain yourself
  • Have a range of mentors
  • Her spouse was very supportive, believed in 50/50
  • Invest in support services you always have care for kids/whomever. One person shouldn’t just automatically stay home.
  • Consider full lives for women AND men. It’s not just kids, it’s aging parents. Maternity you can plan, but a sick parent can’t be planned. Work hard for these policies at your workplace.
  • The right to be at the table comes with the skill set – learn statistics.
  • Lobby at a higher level that allow everyone to have a full integration of their life
  • Have a ten year plan and revisit it every day. Where do you want to sit ten years from now and how do you want to get there. You don’t have to stick to it but consider what you need to do to get to where you want to be.
  • Time is precious, spend it wisely.

Live both the length and width of your life

  • Male leaders don’t necessarily worry about making everyone happy, just move forward at all times
  • Play to your strengths, figure out what they are, ask others what they think your strengths are, you might not recognize what other people naturally see in you
  • Other women business owners face the same challenges, you can be insecure with them if you need to, use them as your support network
  • Honour everyone’s choice, regardless of the path, even people who want to step back from advancement
  • Maybe you don’t play par but you do play through – think about raising kids and your career
  • If something is too hard, maybe it’s just important, you don’t know what is coming so just play through
  • “I never take a vacation in June because that’s when they talk about budget”
  • [Funny audience member asked if she could ask two questions. Don’t men just ask 5 questions in a row without asking?  Pardon the extreme stereotyping there.🙂 Her question was about gumption.]
  • Can you teach people to step up, speak up? [Based on personal experience – absolutely.]
  • Being asked versus volunteering – opportunities often come when people ask you. [ditto, but i put my name out there so much that people remember my name and then they ask me]
  • Mentees sometimes wait until the next meeting to solve a roadblock – just go ahead and start working on a solution now, don’t wait
  • Teach gumption by instilling confidence, many women think they can’t do statistics but yes they can, women should and deserve to be at the table
  • Self-doubt is part of success
  • Not everyone is committed to your success, help people understand this
  • Being assertive and ambitious are masculine and for women to do this means they are being bitchy, but if they don’t, then they are not a leader
  • You can never please everyone, stop worrying that people are saying mean things because you can’t control that
  • “What other people say is more about them than about you” [interesting….]
  • Men can be mean and get away with it but women are just being cranky. Well, no one should be mean.
  • Imposter syndrome – “I don’t deserve to be here” . You did NOT get this far because you are lucky. Tell them why they matter, why they’ve been asked to the table.
  • “Lift as you climb”

2 responses

  1. This was such a popular session, and I was sorry to have missed it. Thanks for the summary!

  2. Wish I had been there! But, Sandra Bauman is (my business partner) and she’s keeping me posted on all the good stuff, too. I love that they opened with the Taylor Swift quote!

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