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Podcast Transcript

Womens Friendship Rules and Other Things You Didnt Know

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  0:06  
Welcome to "Your Authentic Path To Powerful Leadership with Marsha Clark" where we believe there's a better way to be a woman today. With research tools, books, and our own personal experiences, join us on this journey to your authentic power for our communities, our organizations, and our lives. And today, Marsha, we have another very special guest.

Marsha Clark  0:34  
Yes, all of our guests are special. And today's especially in regards to that.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  0:39  
So today's guest... I'm gonna say the topic of today's guest is all about women's friendship rules and things you didn't know. So this ought to be very interesting, but I'm gonna let you introduce our special guest.

Marsha Clark  0:54  
Welcome to our listeners and viewers, and welcome and Dr. Anne Litwin. So when, as you know, we're very intentional about how we're what we're covering in our podcast, who we're inviting, and no podcast that I do would be complete without having Anne be a part of that process and the show and the content.

So Anne and I've known each other a long time, and she's been a part of our Power Of Self program, even before it was a program in helping us to find some of the curriculum and content that we offer. And she's been one of our coaches for 22 years, throughout that entire time. And I will tell you that Anne has been a role model for me and really, all that she the work that she has done has been an inspiration for me to do this work as well. So, we can't wait to talk more about women's friendship rules and other things you didn't know. Because we have, there's gonna be some new insights and new possibilities for you in this. So welcome, Anne! Thank you very much for being here.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  1:56  
So Marsha, in the past, you've shared all of the due diligence and the research that you did, in starting the Power Of Self program, let's talk, Anne, about how you got introduced to Marsha and how you became a part of the program.

Dr. Anne Litwin  2:13  
Well, I met you (Marsha) before there was a program. When you came to your master's program at American University, and I was one of your professors. And we had a chance to talk there about just to get to know each other a little bit and discovered a mutual passion for supporting women and for women's leadership. And so that's where we met, and that was really the beginning of us finding ways to collaborate.

Marsha Clark  2:43  
Well, and with Anne as my professor, I had led diversity efforts and championed diversity efforts in my corporate life, and I was still in the corporate world when I went through the program at the beginning. And, Anne introduced a lens of diversity, that using some Barry Oshry's work right around tops, middles, and bottoms. So thinking about the dynamics of what does it mean to be a top, a middle, or a bottom right within any one of the diversity categories. So we talked about it in terms of gender, race, age, sexual orientation, all kinds of things. And so it like the light bulbs went off, which is, you know, when I know there's something to it all. And so I loved what I learned and how I could bring that back to my organization at the time. And then, not long after I left EDS, I went to something called the "Power Lab" and we've got a whole podcast on that. Well, lo and behold, Anne is one of the coaches in the Power Lab. So then we decide we're going to the process of trying to figure out who our coaches are going to be for the program. And we invited Anne to apply because we took applications to try and pick the very best. And so you know, there's, you know, it's meant to be when the she just keeps showing up in your life.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  3:58  
That person who just is THERE.

Marsha Clark  4:00  
Everywhere I turn. I think we're supposed to do something together. That's how it all began!

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  4:07  
Anne, what attracted you to Marsha's programs?

Dr. Anne Litwin  4:11  
Well, I could see that Marsha had passion, and a passion for women, which has really always been my, my, I always say my heart work. And also I could see that when Marsha decided that she was going to do women's leadership development that she was going to go all in, you know. And so it was going to be a really high quality program, and so I thought that was very exciting. And I felt very drawn to being able to be part of it. It was really.. She was just so intentional and focused and purposeful about developing and doing the best most-cutting edge work.

Marsha Clark  4:56  
We talked about if we were going to do it, you had to be willing to take risk and you had to be willing to do deep work. And that's what you've done in all the programs that you've done as well. And so that I think, too is a part of what connected us at a heart level.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  5:10  
Yeah. Right. Well, I love how you both epitomize Marsha's tagline of "here's to women supporting women." So even to the point where, Anne, you flew in for this, for those of you who are listening on audio, we're also doing this episode as a video, and Anne is here in studio and you flew in for this. So, I mean, why was it so important for the both of you that Anne is here?

Marsha Clark  5:36  
Well, I will tell you that Anne is so diligent about the research that she does. She's going to tell you a little later about a blog, and she, her PhD is in supporting women. How many women do you know where it's more than just women's studies or women's history or whatever. And so this idea of "her work is solid." It is grounded in research, as well as the lived experience of being a woman, and you and I are from a similar generation. There was a lot of work that we thought needed to be done. And so this idea of research-based, and serious, serious about the work. And so it wasn't just a passing fancy, or it wasn't just the flavor of the day, or that kind of work. It was something we knew was very purposeful in our lives.

Dr. Anne Litwin  6:29  
And every time I would be in the process of developing something having to do with my research, some angle, something new. I would say to Marsha, I've got this idea about something that may be important around women's leadership. But, but I'm not sure. Can I try it out in your program? She say YES! Anything! Don't you want to know more about it first? No! She said, "just come and do it!"

Marsha Clark  7:01  
That speaks to the trust that I had in the competence in your both your intention and the competence of your work. And so I mean, it was really clear to me. I didn't have to vet your work. And we learned a lot through those processes.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  7:18  
So much of your work, Anne, and I know I'm just going to start calling you Dr. Anne, now. Dr. Anne, so much of your work as around women and dynamics and relationships in organizations, what started that passion for you?

Dr. Anne Litwin  7:34  
Well, I think I've always been a feminist. I think I've always been a feminist, which means that I've always, so it's been important to me to to improve women's lives. And so I think that's a starting place that goes way back for me. Though I had a particular interest in women in organizations, because that is where it seemed to me we were struggling. Certainly in lots of different arenas in our lives, but I got particularly interested in women in organizations and what were the barriers for women. And I wanted to see if I could help understand some of that. Of course, it fit right into women's leadership development. You have to understand what's going on, and so I think, you know, those are all sources of my interest. Yeah.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  8:25  
Okay. So I've got a story here in my notes about a coaching session that you had with a female client, who was a successful sales manager. Okay, tell us that story.

Dr. Anne Litwin  8:35  
So this was really the spark for my research, my dissertation research. So this is a woman, a coaching client, she came to a coaching session, and she was, she was just outraged. She was... she was upset. She was complaining bitterly to me about an experience that she just had with a woman customer. Okay. And what she said was, this customer has been my customer for a long time. I just found out that she's decided to change vendors, and she's no longer working with either me or my company. And the worst part, she says, is that I had to find out about it from someone else. And then she says to me, who (you've got to get the whole body into it) WHO does she think she is? I thought she was my friend, she says. And then she said, I would have expected this from a man, but not from a woman. And I thought, really? This is just business, right? And then I realized, no, what's interesting here is this expectation of personal loyalty from a woman... from women, but not from men. And that was the spark, right? I thought there's something really here that maybe if I could understand this, because I was looking for what was my dissertation research going to be on exactly. And it was going to be on women and women in organizations, but this was the spark. I thought there's something here. If I could figure out what's going on here, maybe I could come up with something useful for women in terms of being able to support each other in organizations.

Marsha Clark  10:09  
And I just want to tell a story. So you know, I've heard variations of that story many times, as you have. And my four year-old granddaughter came in to the house one day when I was over at their house, and she had been playing with a little girl down the street. And she came home kind of stomping her feet and doing that, and, "She's not my friend!" And here it is, at four years old, if you and I can agree on something, or I think you're being disloyal to me, or you're not doing what I want you to do, you can't be my friend. Because it is friendship and loyalty and sameness, right? We have to be of like mind about everything, versus it is just business. And I mean, I think that's a huge part of this. It starts so early, and here we are. We can be... she was four, we could be 40, or 54, or whatever and it's still present

Dr. Anne Litwin  11:00  
It's still present and is getting in our way.  So, that was one of the kind of the themes or the threads that started to come out of the research was that one of the ways in which women were sort of facing a barrier at organizations was in their relationships with each other, We had enough problems with the biases built into the systems all around us in organizations, but one of the barriers that we had was this confusion about what to expect from the other women in the workplace. And so in some ways we were getting in our own way. And that was really upsetting to me, because I felt like, well,  we have enough to deal with without having to worry about "Who can I trust? And, who can I get along with?"

Marsha Clark  11:43  
Well, and you remind me of a story in the in the second Power Of Self class that we ever did... There was a female engineer, and there weren't many engineers, and she was working in the aerodynamics industry. And come to find that she walked into the room the very first day. And it's full of women, right? And we're not back in those days, it was even more rare that it'd be a roomful of women, right, because we were usually one of only a few. And she walked into the room and her first statement was, "Way too much estrogen." Right, and come to find out she had had five sisters. And you know, and she had an expectation. And things weren't always good with those other sisters, which is why she almost preferred working with men because it was easier for her. And so that is so real.

Dr. Anne Litwin  12:28  
We've heard that a lot. I think in the beginnings of the Power Of Self programs. Women coming in, because I've often said that first session, and often women coming in and saying, "Well, I'm not comfortable in a room full of women, you know. This is not my typical experience. I don't know if I like it.

Marsha Clark  12:46  
And I don't know what to do. I don't know how to engage in the this.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  12:48  
Right. Yeah, because this isn't a baby shower. Because there are rules of expectations about different scenarios. So through this research, it ultimately became the basis of your book, "New Rules For Women," and didn't women's friendship rules emerge from this book as well? Talk to us about that...

Dr. Anne Litwin  13:12  
Yeah, so that turns out to be very important. This was a finding in the research that was a really a big surprise to me. And another one of your granddaughters is in a story in part of this, too. But so one of the themes that came up out of the research, so I did this dissertation research, and actually there were Power Of Self women who participated in the research, as well. But one of the things that came up was this, this theme. It crossed a lot of the other findings. I called it like a macro theme or an umbrella theme because it just kept showing up in different ways as an important influence. So we call it friendship rules. And what that is, is that I called it friendship goals, or relational expectations. So what it is is expectations that we begin to develop very young. That's what you were you were talking with your granddaughter about who is a friend and what is a friend. We start to develop those very young. I think was your oldest grandchild, who when I was at your house, at one point preparing for delivering one of the parts of the program... She was there, and we were playing. I think we were playing grocery store. And she said to me, and I've already started doing the research, so I was thinking about these things. And she said to me, "Are you my friend?" And I thought, well, there it is. Right? She was four. And so it starts very young. These trying to figure out what is a friend, what is friendship, and, and, and... But it continues. I know when you know, girls in middle school, there's almost nothing else to think about, right? Is why don't... What does it mean to be popular? How do I get invited to the parties? Why wasn't I? You know, so it's it's very central at that point in life. And then I think as we get older, I know as we get older, the research other research shows us that we get to be adults. We were still carrying those those rules or expectations about how to know when someone is like, is this someone I can trust or someone I can be friends with. We're still carrying those into adulthood, but they're totally unconscious by the time we're adults. Thinking about nothing else as middle school, but by the time we're adults. But I think we still have all of those expectations that we've been developing, since four. And but they've internalized and they become, I think, a filter through which we interpret our interactions with other women. And my focus, particular interest is in the workplace. Right? So I'm thinking about the workplace, and then how does this show up there? And so one of the things I think that's happening that refers back to that original story of the woman who says, "I thought she was my friend," is that we are carrying these friendship rules in and I'll share a few of them, you know, in a little bit. But, of course, I did a, you know, a multinational study. So I had women in different countries participate in the study, because one things I was interested in is, do women have the same expectations, were the commonalities and differences in expectations that women are carrying? And when I think we carry them into the workplace, and one of the things about women's friendship expectations, which is, which is very well established in the literature, before I started doing mine, is that they're very flat structured. So they're very egalitarian, right? We're all in this together all in this together. And I'm not better than you. And this whole thing, oh, I, you know, I got it on sale, right? No, I'm not better than you. Right. So it's flattening, you know, the, egalitaian friendship rules. I think what's happening is we're carrying them unconsciously into the hierarchical workplace, right? Where the rules are based on men's friendship rules. Because men have them too, but we're socialized differently so men have very hierarchical status-oriented transactional kind of rules that most organizational cultures have been built upon. And we carry these flat structure rules into the hierarchical workplace. And then I think women get very confused about what to expect from each other. Because we can be this we can do this very well. We can be bosses and we can get paid more. We've had to learn. We've had to learn to do to be threat considered leadership material, right? To get promoted. That's right, we can do it. But then I think the other women get very confused about what to expect from us. And so when we don't behave like this, it's all unconscious. Right? So I don't think you know, mostly people can't say what it is. They just say, "Well, I don't know what it is about her, but I trust her. I don't like her." Right? And so I think that these expectations get, you know, evolved that way. And then they then that that's, I think, setting us up. And so that's one of the ways in which in organizations... I think organizational cultures are contributing to women sort of having a difficult time working with each other sometimes trusting each other, supporting each other's leadership,

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  17:54  
Because we're almost having to do a 180 on what has been ingrained as our interpersonal relationships style.

Marsha Clark  18:03  
Yeah. And I write a whole piece in the book about what the rules we learn on the playground, from the games we play as children, are the rules we take into the workplace because work is the adult form of play. And that's a part of that 180 piece that we flip the switch totally, and we weren't even able to talk about it or describe it at those.... Like you say, it was just an it was there. We couldn't name it, and therefore we couldn't work with it.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  18:30  
Right. Right. So what are the actual friendship rules?

Dr. Anne Litwin  18:35  
Well, so this is really... So I have I have a few here. They're what we call the most common ones, okay. And they just kept surfacing in, in the interviews in the, in the, in the groups that I ran to collect the data. And it's and also, they showed up in other people's research as well. So they, they're, they're not the only ones and there certainly are cultural differences, but there are some very common ones. And they have some interesting things about them. So I'll read a few. So here's one:  Show unswerving loyalty and trustworthiness. Another one is give unconditional acceptance, while seldom disapproving. Now, that's a little hard to do in the workplace, right? Where you have to be the boss or you have to be team members. Another one is, keep confidences. And then there's another one that says share gossip and air problems. So you start to see here, right, that there's some sources of confusion around these expectations. And then you put this in the context of the workplace where we have to work on teams together. And we're supposed to disagree if we define the best solutions, right, but if you disagree with me, I feel like...

Marsha Clark  19:47  
You're not my friend.

Dr. Anne Litwin  19:50  
That's right. That's right. Exactly. And people in my...  the women in my studies said that over and over again. Well, you know, anyway, yeah. So, so but then there's a last one was I think is particularly important, which is the last friendship rule on this list of very common ones is we can't discuss our friendship rules.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  20:08  
It's like Fight Club. We don't discuss friendship rules either.

Dr. Anne Litwin  20:21  
It's kind of taboo. Now I think this it's more true for like white western women, because there are cultural differences and here in lots of different ways, but this one I think, is... There are cultural differences like, for African American women, I can think of it in particular, if you are not direct about what's wrong, if you can't say you did this, and it hurt my feelings, or a pissed me off or whatever it is, you know, you can't then, you're not trustworthy, right? So to a black woman, they see white women is very hard to trust, because we have this friendship rule that says, you know, I don't say anything, if I'm upset about something that you did, right? And I see it over and over again, I know it's true. In me, it's hard for me to say, you know, there's something I need to talk about, right? In my coaching, coaching with my coaching clients, if they come often happens, they'll come in, they'll talk about a problem they're having a tension with someone at work a woman at work, and they'll say, you know, oh, you know, she did this, and I don't trust her anymore. Did you talk to her about it? The answer is 99% of the time... No. Right? And it just feels like there's a taboo, you know, so why not? Well, I just don't see the point. Well, you know, there's always an excuse. But I think this taboo is working. So that also makes it very hard then, for us to keep our relationships clean. Right?

Marsha Clark  21:51  
You know, I remember I had a dear friend, and you know, her as well. She was one of our coaches, and we worked together for many years. And all of a sudden, we went from being peers to me being her boss. And that, to me is one of the hardest transitions for women who are professional colleagues. And we do develop a lot of friendships because we spend so many hours at work, right. And so I remember. And, I didn't know your work. I didn't even know you at the time. And I wasn't doing this kind of work. I was I was doing leadership work, but not women's leadership work. But I remember having a conversation because we did family vacations and everything together. And I just said, we have to re-contract, me being my professional and objective self. We have to re- contract for our working relationship and our personal relationship. And it was a wise thing for us to do, and it was clumsy and awkward, and we got it wrong as much as we got it right initially. But even being able to have that conversation about it was helpful, because then we could call each other on it without it being offensive. Remember, where because we were reestablishing our expectations around some of this kind of stuff.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  23:01  
And you put a name on it, and so it was something that you could both work on.

Marsha Clark  23:07  
We could. We could recognize it, understand it and then manage it.

Dr. Anne Litwin  23:11  
That's very wise because, for the most part, my both experience as a coach and also the research, women don't know how to do that. Right? It's a skill that we don't have, and we don't learn it because mostly in our socialization, particularly in the white western socialization, we can't talk. You know, we don't have any practice, right? Talking about we need to renegotiate this.

Marsha Clark  23:32  
And, it goes back to we're afraid we're going to damage the relationship. Whereas in other cultures, including African American women, it's the exact opposite. It makes it stronger, right? Yeah. So that's the, you know, one of my favorite leadership phrases is knowing what tool to use when. When do I need to be direct? And when do I need to be not so direct? And maybe indirect or whatever it may be. But that's an important distinction we have to learn is good leaders.

Dr. Anne Litwin  23:56  
Right, which is one of the skills I know you've taught in Power Of Self.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  23:59  
So, small, shameless plug for Marsha's book, "Embracing Your Power"... The entire list of friendship rules is in the book. Anne decided that we're all good. Dr. Anne, I know that with your research, you've uncovered a number of other findings. So talk to us about those.

Marsha Clark  24:20  
So, I mean, I know you talked about women in competition and write about talking to each other behind each other's backs. And that sort of thing.

Dr. Anne Litwin  24:28  
Well, let me talk about competition first, and then I'll talk about the other one, which is juicier. Juicy! But, competition. So one of the things that came out of the research was because I asked I asked the women as I was collecting the research, I ran small groups, they asked them to do role plays and to show to demonstrate some sort of typical interactions between women in the workplace - that was the instruction. Very neutral. And, this whole thing about competition came up often, right? And so when I did follow up interviews I said, "So, tell me about competition... Women in competition." And I've always asked neutral questions. That's the idea of research, right? Not to lead anybody anywhere. So tell me about women competition that came up, you know, in your old place. And they say, oh, competition, women are competitive. Why do you think they're useless? It's just the way women are, which, you know, hurts me in my heart. So, and I felt like, it got very clear as I was kind of digging and probing and, and doing the data collection, that when I would say, "Well, tell me, you know, tell me how it shows up. Well, tell me what you see." is that it's really, you know, it's not about the way women are. It's structural, you know, it's, it's the way we are set up against each other in this organization, or this hierarchical structures. One up one down. Well, and is one of my research participants put it so well. She said, Well, she said, when you're in an organization, you see women as your competition, not men, because, and this it's a direct quote, "There are limited spaces for us at the top. And so they're only going to let so many of us in, so you see your competition as the other women.

Marsha Clark  26:19  
I won't I won't talk about it out loud. But boy, am I working it? That's what we're hearing. I mean, becasue there's one chair at the table, and I want it. I can't be too ambitious because then I get described as a too ambitious woman.

Dr. Anne Litwin  26:36  
Yeah, that's right. So we can't talk about it. We don't talk about it. We don't know how to talk about it. And so then we are set up against each other. So it's another way in which the organizational structure set us up to not be able to support each other. And then some really bad blood can get developed in the process of competition. But it's not the way women are. I say it's structural. It's the way the system set us up against each other.

Marsha Clark  27:01  
And I want to offer something. So we've talked about the Texas Women's Foundation, and Roslyn Dawson Thompson, who is the CEO there. And she learned this from somebody else, and I wish I could remember who that was. So, but I do want to give credit. And I think I don't know if you've talked with you about this. She said, "When you get a seat at the table, scoot over, pull up another chair and invite another woman in."

Dr. Anne Litwin  27:23  
Isn't that awesome? Perfect? Right.

Marsha Clark  27:27  
And that's, that's the antithesis of what has been our truth and our reality for so many years.

Dr. Anne Litwin  27:32  
Yeah... pull up another chair and invite another woman in.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  27:36  
Well, and that sends such a powerful message, also. I mean, not only the action itself, but it sends a message to other women in the room of, "Hey, I should do that too." Right. And it then becomes a force. It's not just this one woman pulling up one chair. It becomes a force of women pulling up chairs.

Marsha Clark  27:54  
Well, and I'll fast-forward for a minute, because the third book that I'm writing is "Enriching Your Power: a Woman's Opportunity to Lift Others Up." And that's, and that's what this is all about. Right? You know, whether it's pull up another chair, whether it's mentor, coach, sponsor, advocate on behalf. Make sure there's enough seats at the table, and that, you know, those decisions are getting made with our valued input.

Dr. Anne Litwin  28:20  
Imagine, if junior women could see senior women act in this way for each other, which they do not see as much today. And that would be a wonderful role modeling. I just had an opportunity to work with senior women in a bank. This is right before the pandemic. And they wanted to that while we were called in my colleague and I, by HR, because they wanted us to "fix" the senior women. Fix the senior women. These women... Nobody likes working for them, and can we fix them? So we ran some focus groups with more junior women and with the senior women. And the senior women all said, "Oh, we, you know, we really support younger women. We value supporting women. We're, you know, committed to that." They said that almost every one of them. Then, when we interviewed the younger women, they said, "Oh, those senior women. They're so competitive. They compete with each other. They compete with us. We can't trust them. They're awful." So when we sent that data back to the senior women, here's how the junior woman see you. They were like, "WHAT?" And so they didn't see themselves that way, but that was how the junior when we were seeing them because the system was setting them up like this. They were not supporting each other and so, but they didn't, it hadn't occurred to them that that was something that they could do or should do. So anyway.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  29:49  
Right. So speaking of systems and organizations, what are some of the best practices that you would recommend that organizations can take in order to facilitate and, and make these environments more helpful for women who are trying to lead and grow?

Dr. Anne Litwin  30:10  
Well, I actually think that most of your Power Of Self program and you and your consulting practice, do these things. Right? Which is that you have to make people aware of these dynamics and the statistics. I mean, very often, organizations don't even... They don't even stop to look at whether or not there's a gender pay gap. They don't stop to look at what's happening in their industry, in terms of, you know, where the women are, how the women are all stuck at the bottom and in the middle. They don't see it, you know. So I think if you can make the dynamics clear, and then you can give the women a chance to, also to create a... So, women need to understand this too, right? Because otherwise, we just see things as interpersonal, right? We want to see that we're part of a larger dynamic. Then I think the women can develop a vision of how they want to support each other, and then they have some container to hold them the way they want to be that can be a counterbalance to the the pressures to compete against each other.

Marsha Clark  31:20  
And I just want to say there's a lot of work to around being politically savvy, and women can support each other in two very specific ways that come to my mind. One is the idea.... You said, banding together and having influence so we can be allies for each other. So if you're promoting something, I can get on your bandwagon, and I can give my own experience and story and point of view and perspective about that. And another way of thinking about this is amplifying. So, a woman's voice can get lost, right? I mean, either we say something and it, you know, it's like we never said anything. And then a man comes back later and says and it's brilliant. You know, we all know that one of my clients calls that a "He-Peat." And then you know, this idea of how do we get our voice in the room? Well, if we can amplify for one another, right? You say something, and I don't just let it go. I want to support Wendi on that. It is my experience as well, and I think it's important for everyone at this table to understand what Wendi and I are saying, right? So now you're not alone. You've got a partner and an ally in that, and I'm amplifying whatever point it is you're gonna make. And I think that's those are some choice things that we can do. But we've got to be clear on the front end, and we've got to ask for that kind of support from other women as well.

Dr. Anne Litwin  32:35  
That's where I think that vision can come in. Whether you call it a vision or norms or whatever it is. It's like... What are some what are the things we were going to commit to in terms of how we support each other. We're gonna amplify each other's voices. I love the stories about the women in Obama's White House.

Marsha Clark  32:51  
That's where I learned the term to begin with and the concept. Yeah, because they, even at that high level, were getting shut down. Even though they were the mouthpiece of that administration. And yet it changed the game when they begin to amplify and support one another in different ways.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  33:08  
Yeah. So let's talk about gossip at work.

Marsha Clark  33:14  
Ooh, that's a good one. That's the juicy part!

Dr. Anne Litwin  33:16  
The juicy part! All right. So this is another finding that came out of my research. Gossip came up over and over and over again. When I asked the women to demonstrate typical interactions between women in the workplace, I just I got really, really frustrated about it. But it came up. I would ask about it. But it's something then began to emerge about how it wasn't really clear what how people felt about it. So there was an argument that actually broke out and one of the, one of the the small group sessions. Where the argument was about gossip, like gossip is good. Gossip is bad. No, it's not. Yes, it is. No, it's not. Yes it is. There was this argument that came out. So I asked about it in the follow up interviews. Tell me about this argument about gossip. What, how do you feel about gossip? And it was the same kind of muddy response. Well, sometimes it's good and sometimes it's not. And but women always do it. Women do it. And it's bad. I think women do it. It's bad. And women are bad because women do it. And it became this whole like self-flagellation thing, right? Like, oh, gossip. Gossip is bad.  Women do it. Women are bad. It was awful. I thought... And then other people say, No, it's not. It's not bad. It's not bad. So then I realized, okay, I tell me about gossip. Tell me about an example. And I kind of dug into it. And I realized that okay... There's actually a whole range of talk that we do as women about other people. Right? There's a whole range of talk but really have one word for it: Gossip. And has this very negative load on it, right? Or, negative gossip is bad. Men do too, by the way, but they don't think it's called gossip when they do it. So there's a whole range of talk we do, but we only had the one word "gossip." And I realized that actually, some of some of the talk that we do about other people, it's not bad. Some of it is. It's mean. It's intended to be hurtful, but some of it's not. You know, it's intended to be supportive. And so I realized the intention here is what's important. So I recently had a conversation with another with a friend about another woman who is ill. And the conversation was, "How can we support her?" You know, should we organize some food to come to her at night? Should we organize rides to the doctor? I mean, the intention was to support her. We were talking about her, but it wasn't mean. So then I realized, okay, we need to expand the language here and have more language, so that we can make a choice about what we're doing. Because we really need to stop the mean stuff.

Okay. And so what did you come up with?

I came up with a new word, which is what every researcher hopes for. New word new concept, called "trans-knitting." It's a transfer of information for the purpose of connecting people for a positive purpose, right? For the purpose of support. And so then, as soon as that came up, and I started to talk about it, my friends, and I would be in a conversation and the conversation would go something like this. "Oh, I wanted to tell you about oh, wait a minute, let me think, is this gossip or trans-knitting? Oh, I think it's gossip. Nevermind."

Marsha Clark  36:39  
Nevermind, yeah. But that consciousness and that awareness is wonderful.

Dr. Anne Litwin  36:44  
Yeah, it is because you've got to stop and asked myself, okay, what am I about to do here? So that's a skill. Right. And so that is something that came that I think has been very helpful to me.

Marsha Clark  36:58  
Well, you, you, we've talked about choices in some of our previous podcasts. And this idea of when I get to that moment, I have a choice point. And, if I don't have respectful, trust-building intentions, then I just need to keep it to myself.

Dr. Anne Litwin  37:14  
Yes. Because we've made an agreement, as part of our agreement about in our friendship is that we're not going to gossip. The mean stuff. We're not going to do that mean stuff. So if we've been clear about that with each other, right, a friendship rule is we're not going to gossip, then we can help each other too. Because I might say to you, okay, is this gossip or is this trans-knitting? Because it's automatic otherwise, it's just...

Marsha Clark  37:36  
And I want to go back to one of your first rules that you talked about the importance of being loyal and trustworthy. And when we talked about the trust work, one of the behaviors of trust is speaking with good purpose, and serving mutual intentions. And to me those go hand in hand with this. Because again, gossip is the opposite of speaking with good purpose. And I have to figure out what is it that's going on with me that is prompting me to do this? Because I think we need to hold up that mirror as well, because that helps us get clear about our intentions and what's driving some of our own behavior. It's not just about everybody else talking about me. I don't want to talk about other people.

Dr. Anne Litwin  38:17  
I'm doing it too, right. It's not, you know. So we stop the cycle. Yes, yes, then we have to...

Marsha Clark  38:24  
Stop the cycle.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  38:25  
Right. Right. So let's talk about "only" dynamics, and what other ways that women are keeping themselves from reaching their full potential?

Dr. Anne Litwin  38:38  
Well, I do think that this was going on for a lot of the women who came to Power Of Self, right... The ones who come in and say, "Oh, I'm in a room full of women. I'm... I'm not comfortable with this." There are a lot of women, I mean, really, a lot of women between 20% and 40% of women in technology jobs or in senior level positions are "onlies." Meaning they are often or always the ONLY woman in the room. And that has a really huge impact on a person's self confidence over time. Right? You begin to doubt yourself because people are treating you like you're not there. And, and so that that the very idea of saying, Well, you know, women really need the support of other women, if they're going to be able to deal with these situations is it's revolutionary to say it in a group of "onlies," right? It's like, why? There no other women here... Who am I supposed to talk to? So the to be intentional about creating women's support groups, which is what happened out POS right, is that women would come in and they develop trusting connections with other women.

Marsha Clark  39:48  
Well, and there's several things I want to say about that. One of the worst things you can do to a woman is isolate us, right? So separate us because we're relationship by nature, so to speak, at least the majority bell shaped curve research. So to isolate us is hard on us. But if you look at the "only" phenomena, by being the only we are isolated because we aren't like the other people in the room. And so even though we're in a room full of other people, we're still isolated. And then what the other point I make to the women in the program is, here, here are 29 other women in a class of 30 people that you've come to know, love, and trust over this period of the program. And you now know, love, and trust these women, which then encourages you to go know, love and trust other women beyond this. And they're like, but we're special. You know, it's like THIS group of women.... And I want to say, I could have 29 other women in here, and because of what we're learning about ourselves and about our relationships, is what enables you to build the container trust. And so once you've had that experience of working with other women. And I just think that, that has become so foundational to as supporting beyond your programs in the books and the coaching and the various other things. If it can happen with the three of us, it can happen with three other people or seven other people or 12 other people. And it gives me the the want to go do that, and the skills in the language to go do that.

Dr. Anne Litwin  41:22  
Which I've always really loved about the Power Of Self program, because you point that out to them. And and you sign all of your correspondence, "women supporting women." I mean, it's like to, to really reinforce that women need the support of other women and we can support each other. And I don't know how many times in coaching over the 20 years, I've said to a person I'm coaching, who's in a current program, "You know, that's something you could reach out to the the larger POS network about and ask for help." And they say, "Really?" I say, yeah, all the POS alumni.

Marsha Clark  42:00  
The community.

Dr. Anne Litwin  42:01  
It's a community and they go, "Really?!?!" So I mean, that's, that's a huge thing that you've built....

Marsha Clark  42:07  
Well, and because in their companies... I mean, look, I've never worked for a woman because there were no women in leadership roles, and I think we've been so familiar with the "only" scenarios that it doesn't even dawn on us to do that without some prompt.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  42:23  
Right. Right. So Dr. Anne, tell us the story of Isabel.

Dr. Anne Litwin  42:29  
So Isabel is just a classic example of the "only" dynamic. She was a coaching client... this is about a year ago, and she was she had just lost all of her confidence. She'd been I mean, it was sad. She, she came into our coaching work saying, "I don't really think I'm a leader. I don't really think I have what it takes." Yeah, so the story was she had been a senior executive in a large NGO, an international organization. But she was the only woman and the senior leadership team. So this is what can happen, right? She's the only woman and a vacancy opened up on the senior team. And she advocated for promoting another woman in the organization who she felt was, you know, very talented and quite ready. And the rest of the team, which were all men, were against that idea of wanted to hire a man from outside. And she decided she was going to mat over this. And so she went to her boss's boss, because her boss was part of a group that was saying, "No, let's hire this man from outside." She went to her boss's boss and advocated for this woman promoted and he agreed with her.

Marsha Clark  43:41  
Good for her!

Dr. Anne Litwin  43:41  
Yeah, that's what I said... Good for her! So she got this woman promoted. Well, her performance review was very, very bad in the next round. And, what her boss said to her, gave her very bad ratings. He said she discriminated against men. She was not a team player.

Marsha Clark  44:02  
So she paid a price.

Dr. Anne Litwin  44:03  
She left the organization. She was... she felt so devastated, and so so unsupported, right? Not only did she not get a good rating. She got you know, really terrible performance review. She thought I can't, you know, can't stay here. So she left, but then this self doubt came down on her and what she felt like it must have been her fault. This is what we do with to each other ourselves as well, right? Must be my fault. There's something wrong with me. I'm not a good leader. And she thought, "I'll never get to be a leader again." I mean, she was really in a terrible shape. And so that's what can happen to "onlies."

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  44:42  
Right. And I can't believe this is still happening today.

Dr. Anne Litwin  44:45  
Yes. I mean, this is really a recent story...

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  44:48  
Decades of us fighting for these....

Marsha Clark  44:49  
And, that's what I I find is that some women say, "Well, this isn't relevant anymore. This doesn't happen anymore." I just want to say, "What cave are you living in?" It's in the newspaper every day. I mean, you know, as we're taping this, the Olympics are going on - the summer of 2021 Olympics are going on. And, you know, the women pushing back on skimpy uniforms that they have to wear to play beach volleyball, right? Do floor routines in gymnastics. I mean, all of those things are alive there. Well, they're kickin'. And and, and yet, it's taking the courage of some of these women's teams to say no more. I'm not doing it. There was some woman's team, I think from Denmark in the European Federation Sports League who ended up having to pay a fine, because they didn't wear bikinis while they played handball. And while the men got to wear fully clothed, you know, uniforms, and I just so.... I encourage all of our listeners out there to pay attention to read the headlines, because that's one of the things that women coming out of the program, say, and I hope that women out of the reading the book, come to find out is that you begin to notice things you never noticed before. Oh, that's a gender issue! Oh, that's misogyny! Oh, that's...  because it is everywhere, if we're paying attention to it. And when we can pay attention to it, become aware of it, understand it, we then have a choice point of what we're going to do with that.

Right. Right. So gender dynamics in organizations. Let's now talk about, I'm seeing the title of this is "Top Eight Things We Know." Let's move on to that. So these are powerful statistics.

Dr. Anne Litwin  46:36  
Well, these are some of the statistics when I said earlier, that I have to be able to look at my papers to see. But when I said there are statistics that organizations need to be aware of that that women need to be aware of, that have to do with gender dynamics that usually people are not aware of. And so they think, Oh, it's just me. It's just you. It's just here. It's just... but so there are these bigger picture things then create a context. So...

Seven... seven top things we know.

Seven top things we know, right? The gender pay gap persists, and it has not changed in about 20 years. So white women working full time earn 79 cents, somewhere between 79 to 81 cents for every dollar that the man makes doing the same work. That hasn't changed. But one of the things that is also shocking, but not as obvious, because it's not talked about as much is that that's for white women. Black women make 62 cents on the dollar. Native American women make 57%. Latinas 54 cents on the dollar for for the same work as a white man. So these are things that when you take a look at it.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  47:58  
And I want the audience to know that these numbers are March 2020. Yes. So right, there we go.

Dr. Anne Litwin  48:05  
Yeah, yeah, this is very, very current. And and people just aren't aware of it. Even this bank that I was telling you about where I did the work with the senior women. The organization, because organizations don't, had never done analysis of the pay gaps by gender. Let alone by gender and race.

Marsha Clark  48:23  
And I want to say we teach to this very specifically. About compensation, promotions, titles. Don't take on more responsibility. Here's what I would need to say, "Yes." I mean, we hit this one hard for this very reason.

Dr. Anne Litwin  48:36  
Right. Because otherwise, nobody's paying attention. You have to fight for yourself. There's research that came out... You know, there's a lot of things that I always wondered, "Is this an urban myth?" You know, like that, that women say something, and then nobody responds. And then a man says the same thing, and then everybody says, "Oh, great idea!" I always wondered, is that an urban myth? I mean, we all talk about it all the time. But there's research now. It's not my research, but it's good research. And I think that when you put research out in front of people, and you say, this is a solid study, and it shows that this is really happening. So, another one of those is interruptions. Women get interrupted more in meetings. There's research now showing yes indeed, women get interrupted more in meetings.... Important to be able to see the numbers and and show it to in the workplace. These are these are studies. Women get evaluated more when they haven't... When women get a negative performance evaluation, anything negative in their performance evaluation, 76% of the time, it's about personal characteristics. "You don't smile enough" is a very common one. You are too abrasive. Right? And for men when they get a nor a negative performance evaluation, it's only about personal characteristics 2% of the time compared to to 76% of the time for women. That's like such a huge study that it's not it's not something that's just someone's imagination. It's really, really, really true. Huge study by Fortune Magazine, Fortune & Snyder. This is a very positive one. This is a repeat study, done in 2019, thousands of people involved... Women get evaluated higher than men on 17 out of 19 leadership characteristics, but we don't get the jobs or the money.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  50:35  
That's crazy.

Marsha Clark  50:36  
I mean, that is the crazy part this. You see a steady and of course, when something like that comes out the first study that that produces it or or distributes it, it's like, "Oh, that can't be true." Yeah. And then they do another study, and it shows it again. And then they do another study. And this one has had multiple, multiple cuts and takes and...

Dr. Anne Litwin  50:56  
Yes, it's the thousands of people, right? Very interesting. So at least there's something positive here. Then there are some other ones. I think the most recent one, this last one, is that during the pandemic in the U.S., we all know this at this point, I think. 70% of working women say they are fully are mostly responsible for the housework, childcare, and homeschooling, and are more likely to lose a job sometimes because their children are present when they work remotely. This has been really hard on women. And it's just revealed this gender split in terms of who's responsible for the childcare, the home, when both the mother and the father are working. It's the woman who does it all, and her career suffers.

Marsha Clark  51:40  
She has two full time jobs. She works as many hours at work as men do. And she goes home and does another full time job there. I mean, again, like you say, there's lots of research and stats on all of that. And here's what I think is fascinating, though, again, going on around what's going on right now. This is true. And, for those companies who are not offering more flexibility in the work-from-home benefit, if you will, and that it's becoming one of the premier benefits and differentiating benefits, is that you could let me go because there were people lined up behind me waiting to take the job. That is not the case in today's world. And so it's an employee's... I want our listeners to hear this. It is an employee's market right right now, and it's been an employers market for a very long time. And I've seen it go both ways in my long, I've been working for a long time. And so I'm glad it's coming back. Beause I think there's power in numbers and power in, just it's the supply and demand. And the supply is not there. And the demand is, so whether it be livable wages, whether it be being paid fairly commensurate with gender counterparts. I mean, I think all of that. I want, I want to see what unfolds over the next several years, because I think there's some opportunity to really make up some lost ground.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  53:03  
And there's opportunity for organizations to take the lead on changing what it means to be "at work" for both men and women. And so not only, you know, remote work and being able to manage and work from home so that yes, and during that 15 minutes in between calls, someone can go and change the washer to the dryer. And then also on the other side of that I read a study or an article earlier this week about a lot of companies considering going to four-day workweeks. And that that is becoming a huge incentive for people to go to work at some certain companies because they are considering instituting these four-day workweeks in order to better meet the needs of families. And also, especially since most people are still working from home, and they're not just sitting down at eight and getting up at five.

Marsha Clark  53:57  
Right. Right. And and if you can you not if... you can measure the productivity of people. I don't care what work you do. And this view of if I can't see your work, and you're not working, and so I've just heard too many people say, "Just because you come to the office doesn't mean you're working." So it's not about whether I see you working, it's are you producing whatever I'm asking you to produce as a part of your job responsilbilities.

Dr. Anne Litwin  54:23  
They're also going to have to, though, these companies or organizations are going to have to do something about childcare.... About affordable, high-quality childcare being available, if they're gonna have.... Even if you're working remotely from home, you can't do it full time and be taking care of the children full-time.

Marsha Clark  54:43  
Well, and and when you couple that with how many child cares no longer exist because of what's happened with the pandemic. Again, a supply and demand situation. Demand is higher than the supply. So companies may find that it's a differentiation in a competitive way to attract the best people.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  54:54  
So, Anne... I want to give you Dr. Anne the opportunity to talk about.... I mean, your research, and this whole conversation has been so compelling. Please tell our listeners, our viewers, how can people connect with you, get in touch with you, read your blog, buy your books.

Dr. Anne Litwin  55:19  
Thank you. Thank you. Well, I do have a passion for research. And not only mine, but all the research that's coming up because of what we've been talking about. I care about staying up with it because there's, there's a, it's important for people to be up to date. So I do publish a blog every Monday on gender issues in the workplace. And I try to keep up with the research. So I try to summarize for my readers what's the latest research having to do with gender dynamics in the workplace. And so that's every Monday and you can find it on my my website at

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  55:59  
A-N-N-E-L-I-T-W-I-N dot com.

Dr. Anne Litwin  56:03  
Thank you. And click on the blog, and it's there every every Monday. There's a new one that is summarizing some new research. And so yeah, I think that's the best way.

Marsha Clark  56:14  
And I want to say, too... You post on LinkedIn, as well. So you're on LinkedIn. And what I love about it is it is in a bite-sized chunk, right? So it takes two to three minutes to read it. And in the spirit of when we know better, we do better, you're helping us know better in with the research that you offer. And if you're trying to influence or sell some new ideas in your organization, she's got some great stats that can help you.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  56:41  
There you go!

Dr. Anne Litwin  56:41  
Well, a lot of times in the blog, I will say, "Now, if you're trying to get your organization to change their policy on X, give them this blog. Every business case is here. For change.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  56:54  
Right. That's wonderful. And the title of your book is...

Dr. Anne Litwin  56:57  
"New Rules for Women: Revolutionizing the Way Women Work Together"

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  57:01  
Awesome. So I know you've been a part of Marsha's and the Power Of Self world from the very beginning. How are you feeling about all of this expansion and new things that we're doing?

Dr. Anne Litwin  57:15  
I think it's it's really, it's, it's, it's exciting. It's thrilling. It's, it's wonderful for me to see you, Marsha, go to the next phase, right? I think for all of us, when when Power Of Self as a public program came to an end, it felt I know, I was very sad. And I know that a lot of people felt like, oh, you know, there, this is the end of something, but it isn't. I can see that. It is now just you're just you're on to the next phase and creating more wonderful work in a different form, and I'm thrilled for you. And I'm delighted to be able to be here.

Marsha Clark  57:56  
We'll be partners for life. We are partners for a while. In the sense of really supporting each other's work because it's very aligned. And, Anne too has worked all over the world. She goes to countries where they take your passport and don't give it back to you until you leave.... which is more courageous than I am!

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  58:14  
Yes, yes. So, Marsha, do you want to go through this? We have a short summary of a lot of things that Anne has done.

Marsha Clark  58:24  
So reverse mentoring. Training of sponsors and sponsorees on how to make the most of their roles. Use of coaching, including strength-based coaching and structured coaching. Inclusive talent management. I mean, putting more people into that pipeline that look like us. You know, the conscious decision-making which we've talked a lot about the intentionality and choices, and that's right in the heart of all of that. And then standing up and articulating our strengths, our brand, our vision, and what we want in the world. And we don't have to just say what we don't want.

Dr. Anne Litwin  58:58  
And I want to say that this is these are not this is not MY work. These are actually best practices that I gathered when I do women's leadership development of which your program was in the heart of. So a lot of these are things that you did...

Marsha Clark  59:13  
Yeah, they are. And you do too!

Dr. Anne Litwin  59:16  
Well, I do them too, but I wanted to also... I include you, and this is a different research study, and I included you and your program in it because it you had so many innovations. And so a lot of these are things that you created.

Marsha Clark  59:31  
And I just want to offer these to our listeners, because they'll show up in your work, they'll show up in my work. And these are possibilities for every woman, every organization, every leader to adopt and and do that in supportive of putting the best people into leadership roles. Because that's really... it's not discriminating against men. It is about who... How do we ensure that we've got the representation of the best thinking. And we need more voices, and more experiences, and more perspectives in that and these things can help with that.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  1:00:08  
Absolutely! Well, I know we've just scratched the surface today. But Dr. Anne Litwin, it was an honor. A pleasure. Thank you SO much for being with us today.

Dr. Anne Litwin  1:00:18  
Thank you!

Marsha Clark  1:00:19  
Well, and Wendi, thank you as always, for being our hostess with the mostest. And, and you know, wouldn't have been, it wouldn't have been done until you were a part of this. So I'm glad that you flew in today to be with us in person so that we can talk about some really important things. And I think when I look at your work, my work, and our work, because I think we when we do it all together, we can we can move mountains, right? And so I do appreciate you and all that you're doing. And I, we've now known each other, we go back even further. So '99 was when I started the master's program. So way back when.... So, 23 years and counting, and let's keep doing good work!

Dr. Anne Litwin  1:00:59  
All right. Thank you.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  1:01:01  
Well, thank you all listeners, viewers, for joining us today on this "Your Authentic Path To Powerful Leadership" podcast. Please download, subscribe, go to for all the information on the tools that we we referenced here today, Marsha's book, "Embracing Your Power." Follow us on social media. You can reach out to us via email. You can connect with us on digital!

Marsha Clark  1:01:30  
Well, and thank you all for making us a part of your day, as they say. And I do appreciate our listeners. And we do want to hear from you. Because this is the continuous learning process. Things change. One of the things that you and I have both seen there's a lot more research about women these days which is why you can put out a blog every Monday. Because in my early days, 20 plus years ago, one book a year came out. And we all ran to buy it and read about it. So we want to hear from you because it is important for us to stay current and stay relevant, because that helps us help you. And, we all love the learning part of that and incorporating it into our work. So thank you. Come see us on our next podcast. And here's to women supporting women!

Dr. Anne Litwin  1:02:14  

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