“Why Women Still Can’t Have it All”

Our next UNC WISE meeting will be on Tuesday, February 5th at 5:00PM at a new location, in Room 2422 in the Student Union (building in the pit that houses Alpine Bagel).

This month’s discussion will focus around the bold and online debate-spurring Atlantic Monthly article “Why women still can’t have it all.” In this article, Anne-Marie Slaughter contends that the prevailing attitude of the previous generation of women, one that says “you can have it all,” is unhelpful or even misleading to the younger generation, as both feminism and society evolve.  She argues that in order to improve current conditions for women, we must address realities not ideals.  She draws on her own experiences of balancing a demanding high-powered career and the needs of her family to address why, in her words, “the half-truths we hold dear,” are not productive for finding solutions to real problems professional women face.  As this is a lengthy article, we will discuss these half-truths, which also serve as section headers in the article, so feel free to browse the sections you find most interesting.  They are as follows:

It’s possible if you are just committed enough

It’s possible if you marry the right person

It’s possible if you sequence it right

Changing the culture of Face Time

Revaluing Family Values

Defining the Arc of a Successful Career

Rediscovering the Pursuit of Happiness

Innovation Nation

Enlisting Men

Hope you enjoy perusing the article and we look forward to hearing your thoughts and opinions!


Inspiration Woman Profile: Paula Stephan

The Inspirational Woman of the month is Paula Stephan, a Professor of Economics at Georgia State University who was named the first ever Science Career’s Person of the Year.  Dr. Stephan’s research focuses on how economic policies influence many aspects of science, often in negative ways.  In her recent editorial in Nature, Dr. Stephan argues that research institutions and individual scientists are influenced by bad financial incentives that encourage bad choices, such as funding graduate students using grants that do not take into account the academic or career outcome of the graduate students.  These “perverse” incentives harm individual scientists, as well as society as a whole.  This week, we will discuss Paula Stephan’s work, focusing on how it ties into the broader topic of whether women scientists “Can have it all.”

Women in Venture Capital

At our next UNC WISE meeting, Tuesday January 8th at 5:00 PM, in the Undergraduate Library Room 211, Mary Zeller will be leading the discussion on women in venture capital and Valerie Schmidt will be sharing with us the life and work of Stephanie A. Burns (see following post).  We look forward to starting off the new year with a lively and interesting discussion!

I thought this topic could be interesting for WISE members who are not considering an academic track, and have more industry/entrepreneur interests.  I’ve sought to provide articles and resources related both to women in the VC field, and women as recipients of VC funds.  I’ve tried to give some focus on STEM industries, however not all of this information has that focus.  I’ve organized the information by long term studies, news articles and opinion pieces, and resources for further research and/or future career networking.

I hope that you can read as many of these as you can, and come to the meeting ready to talk about what you found interesting.


The study details success and failure of various companies correlated to the percentage of women executives.


Two studies by the Diana project, which was started in 1999 and seeks to raise the awareness and expectations of women business owners regarding the growth of their firms.

If these links don’t work, they can be downloaded:


This is a study conducted by the White House, and although it isn’t specifically related to this topic, I think it is of general interest.  It details the state of women in America in terms of family, education, employment, health, and crime/violence.

News articles and opinion pieces:

A nice short article that summarizes some statistics about women in the venture capital industry

A short summary of the Gatekeepers of Venture Growth larger pdf

A TED talk which discusses getting beyond the microloan for women entrepreneurs


A community that seeks to advance Women in the Business of Science and Technology

A VC fund that only invests in Women entrepreneurs

A media company offering content, community, and conferences for aspiring and current women in technology. Their mission is to increase the number of female founders of technology start-ups.


Inspirational Profile: Stephanie A. Burns

Stephanie A. Burns was born in Wyoming in 1955 to real estate agent and history professor parents, and even as a child was very interested in science and technology.  She went on to earn her PhD in organic chemistry, specializing in organosilicon chemistry from Iowa State University which inclined her to take a position at Dow Corning. Her research career at Dow Corning lead to multiple patents on Si-based polymers. Stephanie shifted her focus from research to corporate management in 1997, and in 2003 was named Dow Corning’s first woman president, and a year later was named the company’s CEO. Her retirement at the end of 2011 was followed by appointments on a number of boards including US President’s Export Council and the Society for Women’s Health Research; she also remains an active member of Dow Corning’s board of directors.  The following article from business week exemplifies the leadership and innovative spirit that has made her successful.