By Hayley Bruce
The Gazette, Cedar Rapids, Iowa
CORALVILLE — No one has it all.
“Having it all” is just one phrase Debora Spar, Barnard College president, wants women to ban from their vocabularies and internal dialogues.
Spar — who is a writer, researcher and parent in addition to leading the liberal arts college for women in New York City — discussed her recent book Wednesday and how women can navigate the workplace without superpowers during the Iowa Women’s Leadership Conference at the Coralville Marriott.
“The critical thing we need to do is get rid of the notion of perfection, we need to banish the wonder woman image from our collective psyche,” Spar said. “…No woman does it all, no human being does it all, and if we set ‘all’ as the parameter, we’re always going to fall short.”
Spar’s keynote speech borrowed from ideas in her recent book “Wonder Women: Sex, Power and the Quest for Perfection,” which focuses largely on the concept that women need to take a closer look at the impossible goals they sometimes set for themselves. She also discussed the importance of achieving gender diversity in leadership roles.
Spar said she spent most of her career ignoring the fact that she was female, believing her gender shouldn’t be relevant to her professional life. But soon, Spar said she noticed she became the only female tenured professor at Harvard Business School, despite the fact she was one of 10 other women hired at the same time.
Later, she said she noticed her male students were well outpacing the female students in their professional careers, despite the fact that they were equally smart, ambitious and competitive. While the men were becoming heads of hedge funds and successful private equity investors, very few of the women were gaining leadership roles in their careers.