TODAY   |  March 12, 2013

Working women caught in crossfire of ‘having it all’

As women navigate their way through work and family, they are receiving mixed messages from some powerful women who do seem to “have it all.” Psychiatrist Dr. Sue Varma, Sylvia Ann Hewlett of the Center for Talent Innovation, and media consultant Galina Espinoza debate the topic.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> reporter: economist sylvia hewlitt from the center for talent education . a paid i can't consultant and parade magazine contributor and dr. varma from nyu landgone medical center . good morning. i expect three different perspectives on this and i hope so. let's take it past the traditional can women have it all debate which we have had and had and probably will never resolve. sandburg is getting criticism because p some women think she's saying the fault of women , she says, being stalled in the workplace lies with women . what was your initial reaction to that?

>> i think leaning in, grabbing hold of ambition is a great idea. you can't do it all on your own. employers have to lean in, too. we find in our big new study that sponsorship is a game-changer. if companies create pathways to sponsorship for women they are 20% more likely to get that next job. they are 30% more likely to hang onto their ambition which is important.

>> let me be devil's advocate. do men need sponsorship, too?

>> today do. men have twice as many sponsors as women . this is the senior champion who taps you on the shoulder to give you fabulous opportunities so you can strut your stuff. sandberg herself had an amazing set of sponsors starting with --

>> larry summers , the treasury secretary. jump in here.

>> she's saying women don't have the traditional grauound work laid for them like men do. i find her message empowering. she's saying it is a complex issue but here's what you can do to make a difference for yourself.

>> dr. varma, think she raises provocative issues. in the interview she says when you ask women what accounts for your success they often say, well, hard work and my luck and people helping me. they can't say, it's my core skill. she herself had difficulty in the interview attributing her success to her own innate abilities. are we hard-wired differently?

>> yes. the nature versus nurture question is interesting. biologically women are driven b to form communities. estrogen and oxytocin is higher than women than men. men have six times more testosterone which drives them to competitive, risk taking behaviors. for women forming communities is about survival. competitiveness flies in the face of that.

>> we take it as a jumping off point. so women aren't biologically like men. should we try to paycheck thmake them socially like men? why not use the attributes they have to their advantage?

>> one reason companies need to get into the game and lean in, too, is there is research showing that gender smarts and gender-styled leadership is incredibly important for innovation and growth. in other words when group think goes on with a bunch of white guys who are all somewhat homogeneous you don't get creative solutions.

>> diversity is a powerful force.

>> and there is data that says gender decision making creates new opportunity.

>> and the role of men. cheryl pointedly talks about how you need to choose wisely in a partner. you need someone who is going to at least be willing to do his half of the laundry.

>> you mean the spouse.

>> you need someone to approach you as an equal at home and on the job.

>> which brings me to the work-life balance issue. a lot of women whether they stay at home or work will confess to feeling guilty about the choices they made. we see the op-ed in the new york times from erin callan. she was successful about saying in retrospect she got it wrong. she put everything in work to the exclusion of her home life. sandberg says there is work and life, no balance. marissa mayer says i don't believe in balance, not in the classic way.

>> it's not about balance but about flexibility, adaptability and knowing when to use the community side of you and the competitive side of you. the goal is often not about making friends . if you are at the negotiating table you're not getting a person to like you. you don't need them to like you. be friends with them before and after the negotiation. being flexible is one of our greatest skills and has to do with resiliency and longevity in the career.

>> we have to use the skills. that's the takeaway. you know, success does give you more choices. it's something she brings up. women are delaying child bearing these days and clearly if you are earning more and more senior, you are able to dictate your terms more completely to the workplace, particularly if you have some fabulous champion in your corner, allowing you to actually go home at 5:30 and get online which she does.

>> she does go back to work. everyone's grabbing onto whether she goes back to work. after family dinner she's back t her computer.

>> we all have long days. we are very familiar with it.

>> the message is women can lean in, employers can lean in and hopefully it results in balance.

>> meet in the middle .

>> great to get your perspectives. thank you so much.