What glass ceiling? younger women ask. Writing from  Fortune Magazine’s “Most Powerful Women” summit in San Francisco, editor at large Patricia Sellers notes that younger and older women reported very different experiences when asked about barriers to their rise:


The Most Powerful Women franchise, just a decade old, is already
Fortune’s second biggest after the Fortune 500. Amazing, isn’t it? This
fact attests to the power of women in a year when so many powerful
women – including Hillary Clinton and Morgan Stanley’s (MS) Zoe Cruz
and Lehman Brothers’ (LEH) Erin Callan – got so close to the top and
then fell. Even so, the power of women in business and beyond is
clearly expanding. And Thursday we celebrated with the second of our
nationwide MPWomen dinners, this one in San Francisco.

Quite a turnout. We had the top women from companies as diverse as the
Gap (GPS), Wells Fargo (WFC), KPMG (thank you, KPMG!), and the Silicon
Valley gang including Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, senior venture
capitalists from Kleiner Perkins, Google (GOOG) Asia-Pacific/Latin
America boss Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, and eBay (EBAY) SVP Stephanie
Tilenius. She has run just about every part of eBay and could lead the
entire company someday. That’s what former eBay CEO Meg Whitman has
told me.


Cassidy and Tilenius, along with new lululemon athletica (LULU) CEO
Christine Day, were on the Rising Stars panel that I led before dinner
at the wonderful SF restauarnt Jardiniere. As usual, the questions from
the audience were much about how successful women display power. I
asked the three up-and-comers whether they believe that the acceptable
band of behavior is narrower for powerful women than for men.
Essentially, they said no – though Tilenius remarked that she wished
that Hillary Clinton had campaigned more like a woman than a tough guy.

On this issue of female leadership style, there’s a generational
divide. The debate began as soon as we sat down to dinner. I was
sitting with Genentech (DNA) president Susan Hellman, Cisco (CSCO)
chief technology officer Padmasree Warrior, SAFECO CEO Paula Rosput
Reynolds, and other influential women spanning two generations. The
older women generally insisted that they, throughout their careers,
have been forced to behave a certain way – to rein in their
aggressiveness and tone down their style.

This is true particularly in financial services. But Genentech’s
Hellman, a former practicing oncologist who is now the most powerful
woman in pharma, said that in her business, women aren’t so
constrained. In science and medicine, the guys usually don’t even
notice your gender. If you’ve got brains, you succeed.

Spotlight on Senior Singletons: A long piece in this weekend’s Boston Globe explored the wild and woolly world of dating in midlife, including companies that have sprouted up to help ease the process.

For those looking for love with like-minded and like-aged people today,
it’s a brave new world often complicated by love-gone-wrong histories
with ex-spouses or lovers, and by children and grandchildren, dependent
elderly parents, careers, health problems, and emotional baggage that
won’t fit into the overhead compartment. Framingham State College
sociology professor Virginia Rutter says all that can be good: “The
baggage is actually part of what makes the person you’re with a human
being, and you have this opportunity to connect with them in the middle
of the plot of their story.” …

Bostonian Beverly Summer is a slender brunette in her mid-40s, never
married, childless, Ivy League-educated, and runs her own
financial-services company. “If I were a guy,” she quips, “I would be
the most eligible bachelor in Boston.”

Having tried everything from charity events to pub crawls, Summer
turned to Personals Work two years ago in her hard-charging hunt for a
husband. Since then, she has viewed dozens of profiles and dated two
men from Match.com,
going out for several months with each of them, but she still hasn’t
met The One. “There’s no science to it,” she says. “It’s a just a
matter of time, kissing frogs.”

THEY SPARKED THE SEXUAL REVOLUTION, but for many boomers – those in
the first wave are turning 62, while late boomers are hitting 44 this
year – reentering the dating game, sometimes after decades, or
continuing to search despite long odds, is both unnerving and
liberating in ways that hooking up in their younger days was not. “The
romance of your 20s – whether you actually decide to have children or
not – is the script about how, especially in the heterosexual ideal, we
get together, and we make a family, and we have our little dream
world,” says the 44-year-old Rutter, who became a widow at age 35.
“That is no longer on the table when you’re in your 40s, 50s, and 60s.”

By shedding stereotypical gender roles, Rutter says, midlifers have
a lot more freedom to be themselves, and romance becomes less of a
fantasy than a practicality that involves negotiating complexities such
as child-custody arrangements, retirement planning, and medical
directives. “That isn’t less romantic,” she says, “but the romance is
different.”

Instead of Grandma, why not just call me cherie? San Francisco columnist Adair Lara has generally been fearless in writing about life and love in the Bay Area. And she doesn’t see why having grandchildren should change her edgy-yet-relaxed ways:


It wasn’t that Adair Lara wasn’t thrilled about her daughter’s
pregnancy. It’s just that at age 52, Lara was, well, way too hip and
young to be a grandmother. And she spent the next nine months trying to
avoid the name “Grandma” — a word, she said, “that lay in wait for me
like a pair of dentures in a glass.” …..

We’re
often the same age as our mothers and their mothers were when they
became grandmothers,” said Lara, “but it looks different and feels
different on us. We’re in our 40s and 50s, in the middle of our lives
and careers.”

Plus, there’s that whole boomer zeitgeist thing. “We all think we’re
still 19 years old, and we don’t want any titles actually used for
older people,” said Lara, now 56 and grandmother to Ryan, age 5, and
Maggie, 3. “The connotations in this culture have a lot of baggage —
you should get an apron and learn to bake cookies.”

Lara said her husband told her, “I won’t sleep with a ‘grandma.’ You can’t make me.”

So, Lara tried on “Nana” for size, vetoed it, and finally dubbed
herself “Bobbi,” a twist on “Baba,” the Russian word for grandmother.
That’s not to say there was ever any question about Lara’s excitement
and delight at the thought of having grandbabies to hold and love. Lara
was — and is — absolutely smitten.

The Landaverdes can relate. “My mom is called Nana and gets mad if
strangers call her a grandma,” said Noreen Landaverde, a Pittsburg,
Calif., mother of two. “It is an age thing. She does not want to be old
enough to be ‘grandma.’”

Sixty is the new 40, said Jerry Shereshewsky, CEO of Grandparents.com, a Web site devoted to first-time grandparents.

“They’re certainly not their own grandparents, and they’re barely
their own parents,” he said. “Instead of being an old person dealing
with your grandchild, you’re a young person — younger and fitter and
richer.”

And the most popular segment of Shereshewsky’s Web site, he said, is
the section devoted to cool things to do with your grandkids: Alaskan
cruises, whitewater rafting and adventures keyed to different cities.

The Bay Area guide, for example, includes ghost walks, sailing excursions, teddy bear-building and exotic, ethnic restaurants.

The bottom line, said Lara, is that today’s grandparents are more than a label, unless that label is Grandma 2.0.

“Baby boomer women, in their 40s and 50s, with busy lives and
careers, are wrestling with their new identity as grandmothers in a
world where Mom, Dad and Nana all work,” she said. “These new
grandmothers are the urban, marginally hip, accomplished boomer who’s
too busy getting her Web site up and running to take up needlepoint.”

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