BOX 1-5

Pioneers Have Predictable Problemsa

  • Exclusion and isolation.

  • Extreme visibility, particularly for woman of color. Every failure and every mistake is public. The good news is, if you succeed, that also is highly visible.

  • Unreliable performance feedback. Like flying an airplane without a gyroscope, you cannot rely on the feedback you are getting, and so you rely on your own sense of where you are doing well and where you are doing poorly.

  • Very strong probability of being unfairly promoted and unfairly paid.


aRM Kanter (1977). Men and Women of the Corporation. New York: Basic Books; J Crocker and KM McGraw (1984). What’s good for the goose is not good for the gander: Solo status as an obstacle to occupational achievement for males and females. American Behavioral Scientist 27(3):357-369.

The first-stage remedy of add women and stir is often unsuccessful in part because organizational structures and policies are gendered, and women leave more than men at each level of the promotion hierarchy.67 At the highest levels, only women pioneers remain. This will be the situation for years and years for women scientists and engineers.

In addition to the problems faced by pioneers, another problem, which has received less attention in the literature, is women’s discomfort in male-dominated cultures.68 Inauthenticity problems are heightened when one is a woman of color.69 The result is that women, particularly women of color, quit.

The classic remedy is to fix the women. Training women to be better leaders, to be more assertive, and to have the same kinds of tough


J Acker (1990). Hierarchies, jobs, bodies: A theory of gendered organizations. Gender and Society 4(2):139-58; AJ Mills and P Tancred (1992). Gendering Organizational Analysis. London: Sage Publications.


J Martin and D Meyerson (1998). Women and Power: Conformity, Resistance, and Disorganized Coaction. In Power and Influence in Organizations, Eds. RM Kramer and MA Neale. San Francisco: Sage Publications.


AM Morrison (1992). New solutions to the same old glass ceiling. Women in Management Review 7(4):15-19; E Bell and SM Nkomo (2001). Our Separate Ways: Black and White Women and the Struggle for Professional Identity. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.

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