Mistresses of the Universe
Letter to the Editor submitted by Sumru Erkut, Ph.D., to The New York Times in response to the article “Mistresses of the Universe" published February 8, 2009.
February 10, 2009
Thank you to Nicholas Kristof for directing Wall Street to bring women’s perspectives to the table (Mistresses of the Universe). Not only do women’s contributions help boards fulfill responsibilities to multiple stakeholders, they help create a boardroom environment in which members work collaboratively while encouraging tough questions to be asked. Studies show that women’s collaborative leadership style benefits boardroom dynamics by increasing the amount of listening, social support, and win-win problem-solving. And what’s more, women do not shy away from controversial issues. A note of emphasis, however: usually three or more women are necessary to constitute a critical mass where women are no longer dismissed as outsiders or token representatives. Three or more women is what it takes for women to be able to be effective in influencing the content and process of board discussions. Financial corporations should heed Kristoff’s advice and the growing research that supports it.