‘Women Lead’ discusses long-term career options for women
By Ling-Mei Wong
Author Tracey Wilen-Daugenti spoke about women leadership on Oct. 14 at MIT.
Wilen-Daugenti worked in Silicon Valley firms Hewlett-Packard, Apple and Cisco Systems, while a visiting scholar at Stanford University. Her latest book, “Women Lead,” surveyed women and also conducted in-depth interviews with women on leadership. In an interview with the Sampan, she discussed her book and research on the future of work.
“The message I do have to young women is you have many, many options,” she said. While many of the popular business books focus on advancement in a corporate environment, women today have many more options such as self-employment, entrepreneurship, small and medium businesses, franchises, public sector work and nonprofits. Every firm and opportunity has a culture and women need to find their fit. Women should investigate what the culture is like before they join an organization by doing research and talking to other women and employees who work there.
Wilen-Daugenti emphasized women should take ownership of their career, and thoughtfully plan where they want to be and what they want to do. Many assume that the firm or their manager will do this for them. “There’s interesting research in job growth and hiring, which is not at large or small firms, but young firms. Firms which are five years and younger have many of the future job and career opportunities,” she said.
The nature of work is changing, as few jobs guarantee lifetime security. As young people today can expect to live to more than 100, their career time will double to 50 to 60 years — much longer than their parents.
“The Bureau of Labor statistics for 2012 found the average tenure of a job is 4.4 years,” Wilen-Daugenti said. “If people cycle through jobs that fast, we’re only few steps away from being an agent, really. … If you’re looking for a new job every four years, you will learn the skills to be employable for life.”
One promising industry is health care, which has high growth potential for its breadth of options, ranging from finance, marketing to technician positions, Wilen-Daugenti said. There are also portfolio career options where individuals can assemble a career around multiple projects.
Regardless of one’s age or gender, the workplace today has many more choices. “As a young person, entrepreneurship was not an option for me. Today it is,” Wilen-Daugenti said. “Young people can start and open a business form their smart devices using the Internet. I just think that’s fantastic.”
To find out more about Wilen-Daugenti, visit her website at www.traceywilen.com.