Susan's Blog

Blog Home | Blog ArchivesSubscribe to the Full Partner Blog Subscribe

Wednesday's Woman of the Week: Women's Media Center Honorees

by Susan Bulkeley Butler


One week from today, next Wednesday, October 29th, the Women's Media Center will be giving its 2014 awards to four women who are game-changers in the media. I would like to give them each a shout out tonight, Amma Asante, Ursula Burns, Katie Couric and Barbara Walters, as they prepare to collect their awards next week.


Amma Asante is receiving the Women's Media CENTER Directorial Excellence Award for Belle. Asante, a British writer-director, made a name for herself after the release of her critically acclaimed film, Belle, which is based on the true story of Dido Elizabeth Belle, the illegitimate, mixed-race daughter of Royal Navy Captain Sir John Lindsay. It is a brave film that brought to light the difficult questions about the discrimination women face, both in the period the film is set and now. Asante's brave depiction of Belle is helping us to ask the right questions about how far we as a society have come, and how far we still have to go toward reaching equality.


Ursula Burns is receiving the WMC Carol Jenkins Visible and Powerful Media Award. Ursula is the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Xerox Corporation. Burns is recognized at the first African-American woman CEO to head a Fortune 500 company, and the first woman to succeed another womas as head of a Fortune 500 company. This past year she was ranked by Forbes as the 22nd most powerful woman in the world.


Katie Couric is receiving the WMC Pat Mitchell Lifetime Achievement Award. Her name alone has become iconic. Couric has been a television host on all "Big Three" television networks in the United States: NBC News from 1989-2006, CBS News from 2006-2011, and ABC News from then to present.


Barbara Walters is receiving the WMC Media Trailblazer Award. I gave the spotlight to Walters in May after the accouncment of her last day on The View, and with such a long legacy there is no question that Walters has earned this award. As a journalist and respected personality, Walters continues to be a wonderful example for women looking to make a change.

Click here for the full text
Wednesday's Woman of the Week: Malala Yousafzai (Round 2)

by Susan Bulkeley Butler


Though she has appeared in this feature once before, I thought it would be pertinent to recognize Malala again this week in light of her becoming the youngest person to win a Nobel Peace Prize, at age 17.

Malala was awarded the Peace Prize along with Kailash Satyarthi, for "their struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education."

In her speech, Malala recognized Satyarthi and spoke about their backgrounds and what a great honor it is to share a prize with someone from India while she is Pakistani: "One is from Pakistan. One is from India. One believes in Hinduism. One strongly believes in Islam. And it gives a message to people. It gives a message to people of love between Pakistan and India and between different religions. And we both support each other. It does not matter what's the color of your skin, what language do you speak, what religion you believe in. It is that we should all consider each other as human beings."

Included in message Malala said that the respect we carry for one another should extend to fighting for rights for all human beings, including women and children. She is known around the world as a champion of women's rights, who stood up bravely against the Taliban to express her beliefs on the importance of education for women and children.

"The terrorists thought that they would change our aims and stop our ambitions but nothing changed in my life except this: Weakness, fear and hopelessness died. Strength, power and courage was born," she told the United Nations last year.

Winning the Nobel Peace Prize is sure to have an impact on education. Just days after the announcement of the winners Malala took to YouTube to motivate young women and girls in every country to do one hour of educational work, like coding. "You can do it," she encouraged, "Even if you don't have a computer."

Click here for the full text
Gender Equality = Men + Women Working Together

by Susan Bulkeley Butler


Throughout my career and my life advocating for women's equality in the workplace, I've come to realize something: Gender equality for women cannot happen without men.

It was great to hear, then, about the new United Nations program HeForShe -- appropriately characterized as "a solidarity movement for gender quality."

Actress, women's rights activist and U.N. Women Goodwill Ambassador Emma Watson introduced the HeForShe program to the world at a special event in New York last week.

"We want to try and galvanize as many men and boys as possible to be advocates for gender equality," Watson said. "And we don't just want to talk about it, but make sure it is tangible." Read the entire speech here.

As Watson declared at the U.N., she is a feminist. She is proud to stand up and say that, despite the fact that the word "feminist" can be "uncomfortable."

I, too, understand the uncomfortableness that comes with the word.

But I have decided I am a feminist.

In 1965, when I hired as the first woman professional at Arthur Andersen & Co., I didn't think of myself as a feminist. Early on, I had a job, and soon realized that I needed to concentrate on "my career." How was I going to be admitted to the Partnership?

Fortunately, I had male friends to focus me in the right direction for promotion and to help begin to bring about equality. I got my first job at Arthur Andersen thanks to the foresight of a male professor at Purdue and others who realized that getting the job done right didn't depend on gender. Fourteen years later, when I was named the first female partner of Andersen Consulting -- now known as Accenture -- it was also because of the forward-thinking actions of many male partners.

We've come a long way, but women's success still depends on men -- whether we like it or not. The fact of the matter is that, with men holding 95 percent of the CEO positions and about 85 percent of all executive positions Fortune 500 companies, women simply cannot advance without the support of the men who are currently in charge. Unless the men at the top of our organizations strategically decide that equality at the top is the right thing to do, it won't happen.

For real change, and in order to get more women in charge, today's CEO's (mostly men) must have a strategy to achieve equality for men and women. This is more than having a concerted effort to recruit women professionals. They must "create the pipeline" for women, to ensure there are ample women candidates for all leadership positions when they become available. And they must make sure there are sponsorship and mentoring programs for women to show them the way.

The U.N. isn't the first governmental body to recognize the importance of men in the gender equality equation. Australia's appointed Sex Discrimination Commissioner in 2010 established that country's Male Champions of Change collaboration to have the male leaders make significant and sustainable change in the number of women in leadership roles in Australian companies, government and society.

The 30% Coalition, a group I belong to, organized a Champions of Change program.These executives seek to promote gender diversity in the corporate boardroom. They are public advocates to encourage other leaders to support their mission... to enlist more men in top corporate positions to recruit and develop more women to fill board seats.

With the HeForShe program, the United Nations recognizes that gender equality is a human right, and that having women in leadership roles makes society better in a myriad of ways.

Smart businesses realize also that gender equality makes companies better in a myriad of ways too.

According to Catalyst's groundbreaking 2011 study, "The Bottom Line: Corporate Performance and Women's Representation on Boards," companies with three or more women board directors on average outperformed companies with zero women board directors -- by 84 percent when measured by return on sales and 60 percent when measured by return on invested capital.

Click here for the full text
Wednesday's Woman of the Week: Mariam Al Mansouri

by Susan Bulkeley Butler


This week's woman of the week is a real first. Her name is Maj. Mariam Al Mansouri, the first female fighter pilot in the United Arab Emirates' air force. She was also among the first women to graduate from the U.A.E.'s air force academy after it began to admit women, and this past Monday night she was the first to lead an airstrike.

On MSNBC's program "Morning Joe," ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba said of al-Mansouri: "She is a fully qualified, highly trained, combat-ready pilot and she led the mission."

Breaking down both gender barriers and gender stereotypes associated with conservative Islamic societies, Otaiba said that the debate over the role of women in society showed a "crucial difference in the divergent visions of moderates and extremists in the Muslim world," according to the New York Times.

al-Mansouri, 35, said she dreamed of becoming a pilot since high school, but had to wait until women were allowed to enter the air force academy. In the meantime she earned an undergraduate degree in English literature and worked for the armed forces in the capacity she was allowed to. In 2007 she graduated from Khalifa bin Zayed Air College, and she now flies the Block 60 model of the American-built F-16 fighter jet.

An Abu Dhabi newspaper, The National, wrote a profile on al-Mansouri in which she offered advice for any women aspiring to become a fighter pilot: "Be prepared, as it is a time- and effort-consuming field that requires a great deal of passion."

For many, the middle east is the last place one would expect a woman in a lead military role such as the one al-Mansouri currently serves. While the U.A.E. may still have obstacles in the realm of women's rights, al-Mansouri's role no doubt represents a positive step - one that the U.A.E. supports, as the government and fellow male pilots and trainers played a critical role in her rise to leadership. She is a testament to women's ability to shatter glass ceilings in any field, no matter where they are and no matter what their dream may be.

Click here for the full text
Wednesday's Woman of the Week: Emma Watson

by Susan Bulkeley Butler


She's a familiar face who won us all over with her many roles on the silver screen, she was named a United Nations Women Goodwill Ambassador this past summer, and now that she has made her presence known she's ready to make it count.

Emma Watson delivered a speech this past Saturday, at a special event for the HeForSheCampaign at the United Nations Headquarters, on gender equality. Her words were so powerful they gripped the nation, and the speech went viral. Watson, 24, spoke eloquently and passionately about the misconceptions surrounding feminism, and explained that the HeForShe campaign's goal is to motivate men and boys to end gender inequality.

The speech's power speaks for itself. You can see the full transcript here, but these are a few of my favorite parts of her speech:

"We want to end gender inequality—and to do that we need everyone to be involved."

"I decided I was a feminist and this seemed uncomplicated to me. But my recent research has shown me that feminism has become an unpopular word. Apparently I am among the ranks of women whose expressions are seen as too strong, too aggressive, isolating, anti-men and, unattractive."

"I am from Britain and think it is right that as a woman I am paid the same as my male counterparts. I think it is right that I should be able to make decisions about my own body. I think it is right that women be involved on my behalf in the policies and decision-making of my country. I think it is right that socially I am afforded the same respect as men. But sadly I can say that there is no one country in the world where all women can expect to receive these rights. No country in the world can yet say they have achieved gender equality."

"Men—I would like to take this opportunity to extend your formal invitation. Gender equality is your issue too."

"If we stop defining each other by what we are not and start defining ourselves by what we are—we can all be freer and this is what HeForShe is about. It’s about freedom."

"the reality is that if we do nothing it will take 75 years, or for me to be nearly a hundred before women can expect to be paid the same as men for the same work. 15.5 million girls will be married in the next 16 years as children. And at current rates it won’t be until 2086 before all rural African girls will be able to receive a secondary education."

And finally, as I let her words sink in, I'll join her in echoing her sentiment of change: if not me, who? If not now, when?

Click here for the full text
Wednesday's Woman of the Week: Kathryn Bufano

by Susan Bulkeley Butler


A few weeks ago I chose my good friend Nina McLemore as my woman of the week, highlighting that female CEOs in the retail industry are few in number. So this week I would like to celebrate another female CEO who is making waves in the fashion world: Kathryn Bufano, the new CEO of Bon-Ton Stores Inc., who was also just hailed as the 52nd female CEO in theFortune 1000.

With Bufano on the Fortune 1000 list, the overall percentage of women has risen to an all-time high of 5 percent. The number is increasing, but we have a long way to go to get to 50 percent.

In reaction to her number 52 spot, Bufano told Fortune: "I heard there weren't a lot of women CEOs, but when I heard that number of 52 out of 1000 I was surprised by that. There are a lot of women business leaders and many of them run small businesses. I think it is just a matter of time before that number will grow. I am proud and excited for the opportunity to run a public company, but there is also a lot of private companies and small business that have a lot of women in leadership."

As one of just a small handful of women CEOs at major retailers in the U.S., Bufano joined Bon-Ton from Belk Inc., where she grew sales, fostered strong relationships with suppliers, and kept the merchandise on-trend and true to the brand. With this healthy list of credentials, all eyes have been on Bufano to duplicate her success for Bon-Ton: "We expect new CEO Kathy Bufano to successfully navigate [Bon-Ton] through the next leg of its turnaround. Ms. Bufano has a strong track record as President and Chief Merchant at Belk and we think her experience is very transferable, particularly her strong relationships with both moderate and better national brands," said David Glick, an analyst at Buckingham Research Group.

Click here for the full text
Wednesday's Woman of the Week: Joan Rivers

by Susan Bulkeley Butler


When thinking of a woman with a long, illustrious career who was unshakably honest, even fiercely so, and hilarious, Joan Rivers is the first to come to mind. For this week's spotlight I want to join in as we remember her after her sad passing last week, and honor her for her accomplishments.

Many have written very eloquently about Rivers' passing and extraordinary career, and I've enjoyed reading about her legacy. She was a pioneer in many ways, a woman who broke through as a stand-up comic to host nighttime and daytime TV shows, evening selling fashion and jewelry products. She reached a point in her career where her personality became her legacy, which came out in many of the fashion TV shows and bestselling books. Some words to describe Rivers that I came across this week as I read the headlines include: trailblazing, unique, and soul-baring.

While Rivers may have been a subject of judgement and ridicule at times, she never apologized for who she was. She wasn't afraid to call others out by name, either, and make them own up to who they are and actions they took. It is often said that the safest defense against criticism is to ignore it. Rivers never followed that advice - she didn't play it safe, and wasn't afraid to use her voice. That's something all women can admire as we gain numbers in boardrooms and leadership boards.

There is courage in being unapologetically yourself, and not apologizing for every small thing. Women pursuing leadership roles in their career can expect to take a page out of Rivers' book, as well as her ability to come back even after suffering from personal and professional setbacks. Rivers was always ready to do new things, to get creative and take risks.

In his eulogy at Rivers' memorial service he said that he couldn't imagine the world without Joan Rivers. Unfortunately, we'll have to. But as women we're lucky to have Rivers as an example of one of those individuals who made things happen for herself in her own way.

Cheers, Joan, to a wonderful career!

Click here for the full text
Wednesday's Woman of the Week: Diane Sawyer

by Susan Bulkeley Butler


Returning this week to our regularly scheduled broadcast, pardon the pun, is our Wednesday's Woman of the Week. This week I would like to spotlight Diane Sawyer, who stepped down last Wednesday as the anchor of ABC World News and as the "face" of the network. Sawyer's career set a precedent for female anchors over her 25 years at ABC News.

"And now it is time to say goodnight," Sawyer said during her last sign off, "I just want you to know what a deep privilege it has been to sit in the anchor chair at World News these years, the flagship broadcast of ABC, where Peter Jennings created a signature of such curiosity and courage... It has been wonderful to be the home port for the brave and brilliant forces of ABC News around the world - and to feel, every single night, that you and I were in a conversation about the world together."

Sawyer started her career as a broadcaster at her local station in Louisville, Kentucky, before joining the Richard Nixon administration. She then transitioned to CBS, where she became the first female correspondent of 60 Minutes. In 1989 she moved to ABC and proceeded to co-anchor Primetime before joining Good Morning America in 1999, where she remained for a decade.

But the show is far from over for Sawyer. ABC News president James Goldston let ABC staff know that she plans to devote her "boundless energy" full time to "a team which will create and commission original reporting, big ideas and interviews for all platforms... Diane decided that now is the moment to concentrate full time on tackling big issues in new ways." He also added that she will be creating special events and conducting big interviews.

Some of her most famous interviews include noteable women who have made big strides in their respective fields: former congresswoman Gabrille Giffords, Malala Yousafzai, and Hillary Clinton just this past month.

"Diane is one of the giants of modern journalism," Goldston wrote, "We can't wait to see where she'll lead us next."

As for what's next for the anchor's chair, David Muir took over for Sawyer starting just last night. Which raises the question: where are the women in line to replace her? I first posed this question in my blog post on Women in Broadcast, and touched upon the subject again when I showcasedGwen Ifill and Barbara Walters as women of the week. The broadcast world transformed from a place of all men, to including more and more women, and now there are very few. So where is the next Diane, the next Katie, the next Barbara?

Noteables include Jane Pauley, who just moved over to CBS this past April and began contributing to CBS Sunday Morning, and this past month has been guest-hosting CBS This Morning substituting for Gayle King. Gwen Ifill on PBS is another woman of note. But when will these women get to the top?

It's an important question to consider as we celebrate Sawyer this week, and echo her sentiment on tackling big issues in new ways.

Click here for the full text
Celebrating Women's Equality Day

by Susan Bulkeley Butler


Happy Women's Equality Day!

Today we commemorate the 1920 passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, which granted women the right to vote. But today celebrates more than just the passage of the amendment. Today brings attention to our continuing efforts toward gaining full equality.

So today I celebrate. I celebrate Susan B. Anthony and everyone who helped to secure women’s right to vote. I also celebrate women like Eleanor Roosevelt, Gloria Steinem, and so many others, who have gotten us to where we are today. I celebrate all of us today who are working to bring us to true equality.

I celebrate and I look forward to the next steps we can take to gain full equality. Can you imagine what we can be celebrating on August 26, 2020 – the 100th anniversary?

Also, today I celebrate the publishing of my book: Women Count, A Guide to Changing the World, because today each of us can do our part in making the world a better place for women tomorrow. What will you do?


I invite you to connect with me on Twitter and Facebook. Let's work together to make equality a reality before 2020!

Click here for the full text
Wednesday's Woman of the Week: Mo'ne Davis

by Susan Bulkeley Butler


There aren't many women who grace the cover of Sports Illustrated before they enter the eighth grade. Mo'ne Davis, one of the most talked about pitchers in the Little League World Series, did just that. Following along with our World Series theme the last two weeks, we celebrate Mo'ne this week as she becomes the 18th girl to play in 68 years of the Little League World Series, the sixth to get a hit in World Series history and the first female pitcher to throw a shutout.

She pitches for the Taney Dragons of Philadelphia, and has been captivating the rest of the nation as well. The network ratings for ABC and ESPN have heightened during the series, particularly during her appearances. As of Tuesday she has been featured on the front page of The Philadelphia Inquirer for five consecutive days.

But despite the media frenzy, many onlookers, including her coaches, commend Mo'ne's composure during a potentially stressful time. When asked about her reaction to seeing herself on the cover of Sports Illustrated, she said: "I don't know. Kind of surprised, but I mean, it was fun."

Even with a signature low-key manner, Mo'ne has big dreams for herself: to become a member of the girl's basketball team at UConn. When ashed if she thinks she will ever appear on in Sports Illustrated again, particularly on the cover, she said, "Hopefully it'll be me in a UConn jersey."

Her dreams could be well within her reach given her grace under pressure and her natural athleticism - 13-year-old Mo'ne is currently throwing 70-mph fastballs.

In addition to going after her own dreams, we spotlight Mo'ne because she is an inspiration to other girls looking to chase after their own. She is a role model to any little girl who hopes to play baseball someday, as well as to women who have experienced naysayers or doubters firsthand, as Mo'ne has likely encountered as she blazes her path to World Series history.

"I never thought I would be a role model at this age," Mo'ne told ESPN in a recent interview, "So I just have to be myself."

Click here for the full text
Women Count White Border
$24.95, Hardcover
256 Pages
September 2010
Purdue University Press

Sign Up For Susan's Newsletter!
Keep up with Susan's best advice for becoming a leader and making change happen in your life. Each issue contains recommended reading, along with Susan's latest tips for developing leadership skills. Archive »



copyright © 2011 Susan Butler

Powered by FullPartner