Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Who Needs a Corner Office?

Last week, Del Jones wrote a great piece for USA Today about female executives and their mentors. 33 of 34 women interviewed said that a male mentor had made the biggest impact on their career. Not surprising, really, given the numbers (even today, it's rare to find a woman in the executive suite, so how can a woman champion you if she's not in a position to do so?), so kudos to those brave men who bucked the system and gave women a seat at the table.

I'm lucky in that I've had a number of male mentors in my career--a manager who took a chance on a fresh-faced graduate student, an SVP who gave me the opportunity to write for the very accounts I managed, the journalist turned firm partner who told me my writing was on par with the best in the business. Meanwhile, the majority of my female bosses seem to have taken a page straight from The Devil Wears Prada-autocratic, demeaning, bitter and threatened.

I know it's been a tough road for our foremothers in the business world, so I'm willing to cut them some slack. But I can't help wondering if they have been striving for the wrong thing all along--now that we've made it to the corner office, is it what we really want?

The corner office--along with the power suit, the expense account, the personal assistant and lavish pay--are symbols of a soon-to-be bygone era where individualism, greed and deception reign supreme. A hollow existence, if you ask me.

So, if not the corner office, then where to? How about the home office, the virtual office, the shared office, the neighborhood office? Places where you can connect and collaborate with likeminded individuals, pursue work that simultaneously challenges your intellect and feeds your spirit and have a direct and positive impact on your community. I'll take that over a gold name plate any day.


  1. Carrie, Great post. As a dietitian, I work in a career where females dominate, so all of my mentors have been women. I have had the most amazing women mentors; a health educator, 2 dietitians, and a nurse. I think things are different in the health care arena- at least they have been in my experience.

  2. Great follow-up post to the USA Today article!


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