Women, Improv, and Risk
Last night I was honored to speak at the general meeting of Women in Consulting. They pushed me out of my general management frame by asking me to focus on plugging-in with clients and partners. I headed for home happy with the framework we'd developed to organize their already deep expertise. I also left thrilled with the new colleagues I'd gained.
Kathy Klotz-Guest of keepingithuman was my coach for the session. We had the chance to share ideas over dinner and she spoke of the value of improvisation for people in business. Kathy has over 20 years of experience in comedy and improvisation and now teaches improv to business students, as well as being a marketing guru.
The connection was clear when I had the chance to read a post Kathy has on women and risk taking. She notes:
The bottom line is that “risk” matters, especially in careers and comedy. This lack of bigger “game” risk-taking has longer-term economic implications for women and explains, in part, the gender wage-gap that still exists today. According to an April 2010 report released by the Labor Department, that gap though narrowing, is 21% for equal work. Yes, women are more likely to take time out from the workforce to have and raise children than their male counterparts, and this accounts for some of the gap. However, research also tells us that women are also less likely to take risks in negotiating pay, better benefits, and promotions, and in taking “risky” projects that also come with high visibility in the organization. In the end, less risk-taking in a woman’s career leads to a lifetime wage gap estimated to be greater than $500,000. Click here for the full post.
Not the first time this week that the gaps between men & women's pay has come up. Gina Tripani, creater of ThinkUp and founder of LifeHacker, has pointers to the Equal Pay App Challenge (sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor) and Narrow the Gapp.
I think Kathy's post is on the mark. At least part of the problem is that you have to ask to get more. If you don't get on stage, you can't get laughs. If you don't negotiate, you'll get what you're given. My colleague at Stanford, Prof. Maggie Neale, has a great talk on YouTube, "But First, You Have to Ask." She points out that though fewer women negotiate their pay - it's not tied to our gender, but rather our perceptions of power. Watch the talk and learn. I know I'll be thinking about power and getting on the stage the next time I need to negotiate.