Since publishing Evolutionaries, I have been contacted by more women like the anonymous Chief Operations Officer we reference in the opening of the Chapter on Evolutionary Women looking for development toward CEO succession. I love this kind of one-on-one work, and the women I have met continue to renew my faith in the next generation of executive leadership, after a decade of questioning corporate values and integrity. These phenomenal, talented, dynamic women seek out coaching for a variety of reasons, but one of the most prevalent is a feeling that they are going to be challenged disproportionately by their male contemporaries.
In The Curse of the Good Girl, author Rachel Simmons argues that women try too hard to be good, and that’s bad. If, like me, you are a woman, then you know that we face daily pressure to be perceived as modest, generous, caring, helpful, in a word – good. And if you are not good, then there is only one thing you can be, and that’s a bitch. Middle school girls describe good girls as: perfect, kind, intelligent, have no opinion, have lots of friends, and never get mad.
But bad girls are described as: proud, speaks her mind, center of attention, willing to break rules. And, it is exactly those bitchlike qualities, Simmons explains, that propel women ahead in business. When we abandon being “good” and release the inner-bitch, miracles happen: higher salaries, better titles, quicker progress up the corporate ladder.
Girls now outnumber boys in graduation rates, college enrollment, school leadership positions, and as of 2010 for the first time in U.S. history, more women are employed than men. As Simmons puts it, “Girls collect achievements by the handful, but often don’t have the confidence to own them.” By the time we reach the workforce most of us are giving up our leadership status and settling for a more supporting back-seat role in our professions.
I try to contribute in one way or another every year to a non-profit organization in Portland, OR called Girls, Inc Northwest. Last year, the first woman Chief Officer in the NBA (for the Portland Trail Blazers), Sarah Mensah, was the guest speaker at a lunch meeting. I was blown away by her story and her experiences as a women executive in a classic “men’s” industry – but that’s another story! Just trust me when I tell you that Sarah is definitely an Evolutionary Woman! Anyway, Girls Inc follows a mission to target young girls “at risk” and inspire them to be “strong, smart, and bold.” Or—depending on how you define it—to be little bitches.
Check ‘em out. They’re Evolutionary!