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Sunday, December 19, 2010

Women Leadership

Do you believe in women leadership? I always did. During my career as a chemist I continuously fought to improve women’s conditions and status at work.

I remember the quip of one of my male employees. “Hey boss, I am a young white male. Why do I feel like a minority here?” The whole staff burst out laughing. But Jim had a point here. In my lab there were a few more women than men. Not that I hired more women on purpose. Qualified chemists were difficult to find. We had to train the new hires. The hours were long, the job difficult and highly stressful with many government regulations, strict quality control and deadlines. Some chemists couldn’t cope with the pressure. Women seemed more resilient. [Jim, if you read this. Know that you were one of the best chemists I ever had. You survived.]

When I started my own career I had two small children and I worked at a time when a woman was asked questions considered discriminatory today.
Who will take care of your kids when you are at work? The best daycare, not that it is any of your business!!.
Are you going to take off when they are sick? What do you think, am I going to let them stay alone at home!!
Can you stay long hours and overtime if necessary? Yes, sir, I am a professional. I have the feeling I will work harder than any man here to prove myself!!

Yes, I did work harder to prove myself. And I succeeded in my career and got promoted.

But I always understood how difficult it was for a woman to make it in a man’s world. As a result I ran my the Analyitical Division and the laboratory in my own way, differently from other work places.

Young mothers could take off when their kids were sick. They could come later or earlier than the classical 8:00am. Providing they put their forty hours a week and delivered their results on time, I didn’t care how they manage their schedule. A young mother with a sick kid could work in the evening when her husband was back from work and stay home with the sick child during the day.

Flexibility was the name of the game. With good salaries and regular increases, my employees didn’t mind hard work as long as they organized their hours themselves. As a result, chemists stayed for years in my lab which was famous for its low turnover and reliable staff.

Exhausted by my heavy responsibilities to corporate, to my staff and to the laboratory’s clients, and burnt out by the incredibly long hours of work I imposed on myself, I took an early retirement. A year later, the lab closed. My employees had no trouble finding jobs elsewhere, thanks to their thorough experience and the excellent references we gave them. After being the boss for many years, I am now the good old friend who likes to hear about their family news.

In my new career as a published author, I create heroines who believe in women leadership and have successful career as chemist, doctors, architect,...

As the corporate office celebrates its thirtieth anniversary, the actual officers surprised me with this certificate of achievement.

If you like to travel and love to read, come and enjoy my international romances. I will take you around the world through stories that simmer with emotion and sizzle with heat.

BABIES IN THE BARGAIN winner of 2009 Best Romance Novel at Preditors & Editors and winner of 2009 Best Contemporary Romance at Readers Favorite.
Rx FOR TRUST, winner of 2010 Best Contemporary Romance at Readers Favorite and 2011 EPICON.
http://www.monarisk.com/

22 comments:

Margaret Reyes Dempsey said...

I bet the people who worked for you appreciated your flexibility.

I've never understood what the big deal is about 9 to 5. What difference does it make when the work gets done, as long as it gets done?

raesummers said...

I wish there were more bosses like you, Mona!

A few years ago management shifts in my company resulted in an almost entirely female management. I was so pleased, as they're also mothers, but sadly taking time off for family is now more difficult than it was before!

I suspect that some female bosses over-compensate for what they feel is their own 'weakness' and are less tolerant. Instead of working cleverly and accommodating parental responsibilities, we are now expected to prove our dedication to the job aboev all else.

The only result has been an office full of working mothers shopping their CVs around ...

Mona Risk said...

Margaret, in my lab I proved that flexibility of working hours results in better productivity. I remembered how I was forced to lie and pretend to cough to be able to stay home with my sick toddler. It wasn't fair to force a mother to choose between work and her children.

Mona Risk said...

Reasummers, women who don't have children try to act like their male colleagues and are more narrow-minded. You should try to talk to an excutive who has children and rationally explain that flexible hours doesn't mean you work less. In the contrary with a quiet mind you can work much better.

Maeve said...

Great post Mona! I can remember those discriminatory questions I had to answer too. I've been at the same job for 23 yrs now and a lot of things have changed when it comes to the leadership of women. (Thank Goodness!)

Keena Kincaid said...

Hi, Mona. I've managed teams for many years now, and my motto has always been flexibility. I never cared when someone did their work as long as they got it done correctly and on time. Most of the time, people thrived under that type of management, and I only had one or two people take advantage of it.

Most difficult, though, were my male superiors who would get bared-teeth furious at my policy. I was even threatened with firing once. Most days I don't miss the work place.

Molly Daniels said...

You were definitely ahead of your time! I LOVE 'flex time':) Several of my friends work for companies with that policy and compared to friends who don't, they have happier, healthier families! Kudos to you!

I'm with Margaret: Who cares when the work is accomplished, as long as it is finished on time?

Mona Risk said...

Maeve, you must be in a good company. Enjoy it.

Mona Risk said...

Keena, I am glad you shared my philosophy of leadership. But there will always be those who will say if you give them a leeway they won't produce. Not true.

Mona Risk said...

Molly, I was a big promoter of flex time. I wish I had it when my own kids were small.

P.L. Parker said...

If all bosses could be like you, what a great world that would be.

Mary Marvella said...

Mona, you are always so sweet, it's hard to remember you are a chemist and a PHD. I know you were the best boss! Reasonable is always good!

I remember teaching when men made more money than women. Yep, since men were considered the bread winners and women were considered secondary income, there were even official pay scales for men and for women.

It wasn't even taken into account that some women supported themselves and sometimes their families.

Sandra Cox said...

Wow, Mona. Impressive. Thanks for sharing.

Mona Risk said...

Patsy, I hope there are many more understanding bosses now a day.

Mona Risk said...

Mary, yes there was a time when men were paid differently from women. I remember the huge argument I put because a VP wanted to give a man a higher severance pay than a woman.

Mona Risk said...

Molly, I am glad that the flex time policy is well implemated now. I for one believe that such policy increases the productivity.

Mary Ricksen said...

I have no doubt that you were a good boss and that lab had the best chemist in the world when they make you boss!
You are an amazing author!

Mona Risk said...

Hi Sandra, thank ypou for stopping by.

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

Mona, I am doubly impressed at your work ethic and your knowledge in running your lab. Knowing you for all these years, I have always respected you and loved considering you my good friend. I imagine those who worked with you and alongside you were very lucky.

Mona Risk said...

Thank you Paisley. I posted a picture of this certificate on Facebook. Imagine that two of my former employes commented saying they thank me for having been their mentor. It brought tears to my eyes.

StephB said...

Mona,
A very inspirational post on women leadership. When I was the Army I was in a leadership role as team leader and squad leader. I think most women are better multi-taskers and having that skill really helps in leadership.
Now, I'm a semi-leadership role training new hires at my work as well. It's almost natural to me.

Smiles
Steph

Mona Risk said...

Steph, I bet yout time in the army taught you a lot about leadership. Thank you for stopping by.