When it comes to women in the workplace, you hear a lot about how much progress has been made. Yes, women have made inroads into entry-level jobs and now hold about 50 percent of the positions in America’s workforce. But if you look at top earners in big companies, between 2000 and 2010 the percentage of women rose from 5.6 percent to…wait for it… 5.7 percent! The higher you go up the corporate ladder, the smaller the percentage of women you find.
That was the backdrop against which The Post’s former publisher Katharine Weymouth took the mic Wednesday at Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business as featured speaker for a Washington Women’s Leadership Initiative lunch. The topic was “Leading through Change.” And Weymouth had agreed to speak before she knew about a change in her own career — that she’d be out of the top job this month.
Weymouth offered the gathering of some 70 lunchers, which included a couple of men, a rundown on the challenges of making money in the quickly evolving digital news business; she gave anecdotes about sharing dating stories over Friday-night TV suppers with her grandmother; provided four lessons in leadership (surround yourself with talent, be decisive, take calculated risks, and be willing not to be liked); and likened new Post owner Jeff Bezos to her own great-grandfather who bought The Post in 1933 and was able to sustain losses (a mere $2 million in 1947!) until he turned the paper into a very profitable business.
As for the change in her own career, Weymouth offered no clue about what’s next.