Liz Carpenter calls it the "queen bee syndrome" -- a tendency of some women who make it to the top to "sting" other women by shunning them in favor of "buzzing around the male drones -- who really aren't a very exciting group anyway.
"Nothing makes me angrier," the Department of Education's assistant secretary for public affairs told more than 1,000 women bank executives last week, "than women who make it and forget that they owe a debt to those earlier women who forged a path by helping those still struggling to make it."
Although the banking industry is experiencing "tremendous growth," Carpenter noted at the National Association of Bank Women conference, "women continue to be excluded from the jobs with the most money and most responsibility for the most part."
She cited these statistics:
More than 60 percent of bank employes are women; fewer than 10 percent of white women and 5 percent of minority women in banks are officials and managers; more than 70 percent of bank clerical workers are women; bank clerical workers are paid less than clerical workers in other industries.
"i hope the new wave of women careerists won't just clone the men who proceeded us," she said, "but bring a differrent dimension to the job. And I'm banking on women who make it big to remember their sisters as they move up."
Among the dozens of top excutives who spoke during the four-day event were three women who focused on "the agonies and ecstasies of leadership." Here are excerpts of their remarks:
Bette B. Anderson, Under Secretary of the U.S. Treasury:
"I do not have a college degree . . . and that's created problems for me in terms of my self-image.At age 51, I would love nothing better in the world than to go back and get my degree . . .
"The person who values the opinion of others, who is unafraid to acknowledge the need to draw upon the experience of her troops, will find a good support system.
"I have to acknowledge that one of the prices one pays, sometimes, for the honor of heavy responsibilities is the missed opportunities of sustained contact with a lot of people . . . .
"A word of advice . . . Whenever you are the 'first' to do anything, make sure you have your role clearly defined and understood by all involved . . . You don't have to be nasty. You don't have to play power games. But you do have to spell it out: 'That's my decision to make.'"
Leanne Lachman, president of Real Estate Research Corp.:
"A consultant needs a fairly strong ego. If we aren't very positive about the advice we're giving, the people who are paying are not going to be happy about paying the bills or taking the advice. . . .
"It is when you learn to understand people that you make the valid judgements crucial in management . . . and women really have it.
"There comes a point in rising through the ranks where specifics become less important and how you can deal with decision-making becomes more important, and broad, general experience stands in good stead.
"I'm a strong believer in creating your own position. Women have a real advantage in not being part of the oldboy network. If we don't know the rules we can create them."
Alene Moris, president, Individual Development Center, Inc.:
"I came to leadership late in life. I grew up thinking there were clever people out there who would run my country wisely and all I had to do was be a good member of the group.
"I lived in South Asia during the Vietnam war (teaching in a Chinese school) and realized either (the leaders) were on a wrong track or I was crazy.
"Being a good female I started out thinking I was crazy. But when I heard we had enough nuclear bombs to kill the enemy nine times I realized I'm the sane one.
"In going back to graduate school (after age 40), I discovered Freud said a normal woman wouldn't want to be a leader. Since I wanted to be normal, I was worried. Then I read he said we have penis envy. . . .
"I entered mid-life with a sense of mission . . . but not sure how to apply it. I decided there were two kinds of people: people who are afraid, so don't act, and people who are afraid and act anyway. . . .
"My biggest temptation is to retreat. I do need, occasionally, to literally stop for spiritual grounding and to get my life back in focus.Those days, when I can't fight any longer, when I feel myself stretched too thin and too hot, I go home and prune the roses."