by Rachel Dempsey
Last week, one of my professors asked us to sign up to take notes to share with the class. As my friend put her name on the list, she counted the men who had volunteered. There were two of them. For twenty-six classes. In an 80-person class that's equal parts men and women.
This seems like an insignificant issue, but it's not an isolated phenomenon. As I sat in that classroom, I remembered reading dozens of interviews while writing the upcoming book The New Girls' Network, in which incredibly high-powered women described struggling with the expectation that they perform undervalued service work. The women my co-author (and awesome mom) Joan Williams spoke with included Fortune 500 executives, senior partners at international law firms and bestselling authors. More than a few of them are still being asked to make coffee, take notes at meetings and organize birthday celebrations when no one would ever dream of suggesting such menial tasks to their male co-workers.
Carol Bartz, former CEO of Yahoo!, told us about a small dinner party she attended at Steve Jobs' house for then-President Clinton. One of the guests there was an entertainment executive who wasn't familiar with the Silicon Valley-heavy crowd. Early in the evening, the executive came up to Bartz and asked her to get him a cup of tea.
"I just said, 'Gee, does it look like I'm the one who gets the tea?'" she remembered.