Last monday 70 female students and I had lunch with UCLA Anderson Dean Judy Olian. The lunchtime chat (lecture seems too formal) was hosted by the Women's Business Connection (WBC), the first in their series of conversations with successful businesswomen.
Dean Olian spent an hour answering questions about the causes and solutions of the continuing gender gap in the business world, the role of work-life balance and the diverse ways powerful women achieve professional success while maintaining relationships and family. Dean Olian shared with us a little about the key drivers of her journey, as well as the steps she has taken during her tenure to increase the number of highly-qualified women joining Anderson's brilliant faculty.
It was a fascinating conversation because a lot of these topics - how work-life balance really functions at the top, for example - are taboo in many forums. As a woman it can be difficult to find role models who will speak honestly about the sacrifices, successes, and the choices that brought them there.
Personally, I came to Anderson to get ready for the rest of my professional life. I want to make sure I'm making the career choices now which will allow me to be happy, fulfilled, and successful both 2 and 20 years from now. In preparing to make those choices, information is everything.
Anderson is, like all top tier business schools, mostly male (33% female), but the atmosphere is uniquely supportive and collaborative here, and I've not once felt that my contributions were any less valued or my voice any less heard. I appreciate that Anderson, in addition to supporting women, recognizes the challenges we are likely to confront in our professional futures and helps us prepare to meet them.
I'm looking forward to being part of Anderson's network of strong women.