“3Q’s in 3Min: Sarah Lacy, BusinessWeek”

Today’s post was written by contributing writer Marie Williams.

It’s a heat wave in San Francisco, and today’s “3Q’s in 3Min” guest is guaranteed to turn up the heat.

Every Thursday, socialTNT channels the spirit of citizen journalism by putting bloggers, reporters, PR pro’s or anyone with something to say about social media in front of the camera for a short, three minute interview. In addition to helping PR peeps pitch these individuals more effectively, the videos are meant to encourage dialog between reporters, PR/communications practitioners and marketers on the future of media.

Sarah Lacy on Sarah Lacy by Brian SolisA couple of weeks ago socialTNT attended Girls In Tech‘s Femme-Power roundup, a gathering for professional women and female leaders. While there, we had the pleasure of speaking to BusinessWeek’s Sarah Lacy. In today’s “3Q’s in 3Min,” Sarah shares her thoughts on issues affecting women in the business world, and explains how women are selling themselves short.

Today marks a huge achievement in Sarah’s career, the publishing of her book on web 2.0 moguls, “Once You’re Lucky, Twice You’re Good: The Rebirth of Silicon Valley and the Rise of Web 2.0.You can find Sarah in her “Valley Girl” column in BusinessWeek or as a co-host on the recently launched Tech Ticker spot on Yahoo! Finance.

Sarah also achieved brief notoriety last March from her now infamous–and highly played-out–Mark Zuckerberg interview at SXSW. Whether you like her or not, Sarah is an important female figure in the tech industry and provides invaluable insight into the conundrum many of us face as professional women.

When it comes to the workplace, Sarah says women don’t believe in themselves enough and should be more aggressive and self-promotional. As a woman, I tend to agree with her. I often struggle with tooting my own horn or spotlighting my capabilities. Sarah sees this as the reason why women don’t have as large a footprint in most industries.

Take the PR/marketing industry. Long considered to be a woman-dominated profession, but when you look at the loudest voices in the blogosphere, women make up a much smaller percentage. Off the top of my head, I can list 5 well-known PR/marketing blogstresses: Kami Huyse, Susan Getgood, B.L. Ochman, Yvonne Divita, and Lauren Vargas. On AdAge’s Power 150, Kami Huyse could only find 20, as she points out in a post highlighting the “top 20 women” on the list

Kami’s post, written nearly a year ago, found that of the Power 150 in 2006, only 13 percent were women. No offense, fellas, but that number is a tad disconcerting. In an industry with approximately 70 percent women, men take nearly 90 percent of web-based thought leadership. This highlights the need for events like Girls in Tech to help encourage and nurture the growing confidence of the female workforce.

In the video, below, Sarah explains how the tech industry hasn’t changed for women during her 10 years in journalism, and discusses her difficulty finding stellar women in the tech/business world.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Do you think women need to be more aggressive? What prevents women from becoming more powerful in the boardroom? Will women ever step out of mens’ shadows to play a larger role in business? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

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[The above photo, “Sarah Lacy on Sarah Lacy” by Brian Solis, is used under Creative Commons]

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10 Comments

Filed under 3sdays 3qs In 3 Min, Citizen Reporter, Social Media, Video Interview

10 responses to ““3Q’s in 3Min: Sarah Lacy, BusinessWeek”

  1. Joaquin Cunanan

    I think that Sarah needs to take a look at the pipeline that leads to jobs in Si Valley, which is typically an engineering degree from a top 20 engineering school. Those programs are typically 20% female, maybe less for electrical engineering and a bit more for computer science and applied math.

    As for top finance jobs in places like VC, the top 20 MBA programs are also typically 20% female.

    When I was in engineering school, I thought that the women could handle the math, but they hated the environment and teaching style which was all about weeding people out.

  2. Was Mr. Lynn not available to do this interview? 🙂

    Very interesting stuff, though. Thanks for this.

  3. Joaquin, that’s interesting. If what you say is true, seems like 20% is the magic ratio for women in a lot of different arenas.

    Mike, sorry I couldn’t be Chris for you today. 😉 The panel was women-only and thus, Chris was barred from attending. It was a last-minute decision on my part to bring a Flip with me and film; I’m glad I did! I also interviewed Jory Des Jardins from Blogher while there. That’ll be up in a few weeks.

  4. Thanks for the kind words. Now, where do I start on your questions …. Why aren’t women more visible? Or for that matter, people of color?

    It is all about power, and the fundamental power structure of the US is *still* mostly male, mostly white. Why? At the core, I think it is because people feel more comfortable working with people *like them* and far too many make that a very tight definition that excludes more than it includes. Most of the other reasons oft trotted out — women “slow-track” to raise kids, they don’t have the same “killer instincts,” etc etc– are justifications for maintaining the comfortable power structure.

    BTW, marketing and PR are female *dominant*professions — there are more women than men in those functions — but they are by no means female *dominated* professions. With a few very notable exceptions, the heads of the big agencies are men. And so are their top execs.

  5. Marie;

    You remind me that it is probably time to update my study. As you know, I have been thinking about this for some time, and last year’s study was the second, I had done one the year before.

    It was interesting to hear what Sarah had to say, but I think that it really is a combination of things, and not just our lack of aggression. Which, by the way, is something that is called by different names if we exercise it 😉

    I think it is a combination of factors:

    1) While women in PR/marketing represent the majority, they don’t represent the majority at management level

    2) Women do indeed (sometimes) drop out for a period to have kids

    3) Men tend to link to other men and gravitate toward the ideas of other men, women do this less and link more broadly (no research on this, just an observation)

    4) I think you can rise to the top, but it is hard and it requires a price that some women may just not be willing to pay. Look at the guys dying too young and having health problems because of their singular devotion to work. Or those dealing with trolls and other detractors that say horrific things.

    These are just a few thoughts upfront, but I am open to hearing others.

  6. NANCY LYNN

    Advice from a 62 year-old woman lawyer and would-be politico:
    1. Start out in your late teens. You’ll have a whole lot of doors open just because of your looks. The men with the money (and without) will hang on your every word, just to be near you.
    2. Get noticed. It will be hard to ignore you if you’re the only woman in the room.
    3. Actually have something to say. Now that you have their attention, use it to your advantage.
    4. Whether we like it or not, men still control the money and most everything else. So, do we want to be cheerleaders or actually join the team, and shoot for captain? I think this is a hard question for most women.
    5. It’s also about guts and long-term devotion to your career. A lot of us just don’t have the strength or endurance.

    And now, I have a question. If we encouraged young girls in techno fields, would they actually want to do the work? I excelled at science and math and quit taking them as soon as I could. Maybe each of us could encourage one promising young girl and things would change?

  7. NANCY LYNN

    Okay, I have watched the 3Q’s and noted how Sarah’s boobs and legs are featured. Then I watched some of her twittilater with Zuckerburg. While her chest is covered, notice the camera is aimed at her legs. Heck, the camera is so low, sometimes the audience cuts off the picture.

    So, back to basics. Women, if you want the money and power that men have, follow Sarah’s example. But, of course, you still have to do your homework and have something to add to the conversation.

  8. A lot of thoughtful responses on here.

    @mike: Thanks for dropping by, buddy. The Girls in Tech event was closed to men–but it’s also a pet topic of Marie’s, so I let her run with it.

    I find Sarah’s interview dynamic in this interview to be a lot different than the majority I’ve seen, which are, of course, with men. It’s sad that a lot of what people see online to be “Sarah”–and perhaps the way people portray her– is not the person I’ve experienced in real life. Is this because it is woman to woman, and Marie’s questions may have been different? I admit, had I drafted questions for Sarah, they would have been different. I’m glad Marie’s interview helps flesh out Sarah as a person, and not so much the she-devil I feel she has been portrayed as.

    @Susan: the difference between “dominant” vs “dominated” is very important.

    @Kami: Valuable insight — always a pleasure 🙂

    And, that’s my mom, ladies and gentlemen–someone I do admire for teaching me to accept diversity.

  9. I’m going to apologize for jumping on this so late. This is the first chance I’ve had since Thursday to jump on a computer and really focus on all these wonderful comments. 🙂 So here we go…

    @Susan, you make some excellent points, and thanks for the clarification on my use of the word dominant vs. dominated – you’re exactly right. I’d really like to explore your comment about the fact that women’s place in business is determined more by society maintaining the structure than the actual characteristics of women. I remember awhile back that a friend mentioned a study (I’ll have to ask her exactly which) showing that since women entered the work force en masse, the work week has increased in hours and the workplace has increased in competitiveness. According to her, the connection seemed to be that once women showed up on the scene, men raised the bar to make it that much more difficult for them to succeed. It all may be just a big conspiracy theory, but an interesting thought.

    @Kami, I agree with your reasoning, in particular the last re: too high a price to pay for success. It seems to me – and I have no research on this, just a personal observation like you – that women hold family and quality of life at a higher value than becoming the top dog in their industry. Men seem more willing to sacrifice the majority of their waking hours to work. I wonder if this is also tied to our US culture that in many ways promotes a crippling work ethic – hence the instances of death and health problems caused by too much time spent at a desk or computer.

    @Nancy, first off, such a pleasure to hear from Chris’ mom on the discussion. 🙂 Thanks for joining in. What you say is true. If you are a smart woman with something to say – and attractive by any means – many men do flock to such a winning combination. I also completely agree with you about the strength and endurance question. It’s hard to wholeheartedly devote yourself to working when you would rather be forming meaningful relationships and enjoying your life as a whole. I admire the women mentors in my life who are able to achieve the work/life balance while making a difference in their field.

  10. A blogstress? Thank you!

    There is a high price to pay for success…

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