On Jan. 15, the Villanova Women’s Professional Network hosted Joann S. Lublin of the Wall Street Journal. Lublin, a Management News Editor for WSJ, presented on her recent book, “Earning It: Hard-Won Lessons from Trailblazing Women at the Top of the Business World.” Lublin’s book works to depict the challenges women faced in the past as well as currently face in the workforce. She preached the need for an “inclusive culture.” Her book offers several concrete lessons for budding businesswomen through the presentation of interviews and experiences of high-ranking female corporate executives who overcame obstacles in their climb to the top. It is through, “overcoming obstacles [that] makes you a better leader,” Lublin said.
Lublin first offered her own story and what brought her to write “Earning It.” The first woman reporter hired for the San Francisco bureau of the Wall Street Journal in 1971, Lublin entered the office on her first day to find pin-up calendars featuring barely clothed, objectified women in several of her male co-worker’s desks. In response, Lublin came in the next day with a pin-up calendar of her own featuring nude men. However, Lublin’s calendar disappeared mysteriously within 24 hours.
She continued to describe how part of her job required her to cover events at business clubs in the area, but since women were not allowed in such clubs—a blatant example of the barriers women faced trying to break into the business world—she had to enter such clubs through the back, the entrance the kitchen staff used.
A career columnist and lifetime employee for the Wall Street Journal, Lublin decided to turn her experiences and connections into a book. In 2008, she wrote a first-person article entitled “Remember the Barriers” for the WSJ blog, “Journal Women.” In this article, which Lublin explained was written to her daughter, poised to enter into the workforce at the time, she describes the workforce as an imperfect world for women, writing, “There’s a heap of hand- wringing these days over signs that women’s progress in the U.S. workplace has stalled or even regressed.” Even today, Lublin’s musings still ring true, and it was this article that led her to begin crafting “Earning It.”
In her presentation, Lublin explained how each chapter in her book has multiple interviews from many different executives, along with about half a dozen leadership lessons. During her presentation, Lublin name-dropped a few of her interviewees, such as Cathie Black, Kathleen Ligocki and Gracia Martore. All three women have impressive resumes and experience, and each, with Lublin’s help, offers a specific lesson.
Cathie urges women to recognize their value and make it visible and teaches the necessity to exert inherent clout when negotiating pay. Kathleen advises women on the importance of resorting to humor rather than anger when defecting stereotypes. Gracia Martore demonstrates how to become a “value-change agent” by leaving one’s comfort zone to develop what Lublin labels “leadership muscles.”
Lublin’s presentation gave real life instances of terms we hear every day: pay disparity, diversity hires, double duty and maternity leave. She also gave faces, and thus credibility, to some shocking statistics: U.S. women will not achieve pay equality until 2058, according to a 2015 study. Women accumulate around $500,000 in losses due to a lifetime of pay disparity and earn $.97 for every $1 men earn. These statistics are real. And if you don’t believe it, maybe you should pick up a copy of Lublin’s book and read about it for yourself.