Carnegie Mellon University
January 26, 2016

Women’s Leadership Conversation Series Addresses Confidence, Communication and Negotiation

On Jan. 29, 2016 the Tepper School of Business’ Women’s Leadership Conversation coaching series will introduce a new segment: Women and Confidence. This open forum for Tepper School students will cover what causes aspirations to plummet, and strategies for sustaining ambition and enhancing confidence over time.

The first installment of the Women’s Leadership Conversation series, an initiative created by Tepper School students to increase discussions surrounding women's leadership on campus, was held last December when Leanne Meyer, director of leadership development at the Tepper School, led a panel and open forum related to “communicating with power and impact.” Meyer was joined by Dana Palumbi, pharmaceutical negotiations manager at Highmark, Ilana Diamond, managing director of AlphaLab Gear; and Kathryn Heidemann, director of the Master of Arts Management Program at the Heinz College; and the group spoke to a crowded room of Tepper School graduate students about how to communicate effectively, enhance executive presence and exude confidence.

Along with demonstrating proper negotiation techniques and how to avoid communication blunders such as uptalk and vocal fry, the group fielded questions and concerns from the students related to a myriad of issues. The seminar addressed specific problems and instances in the work place in which women are stereotyped, including:

  • “Manterrupting,” which occurs when a man frequently interrupts women;
  • “Bropriating,” which references a man taking credit for a woman’s idea; and
  • “The Double Bind,” meaning that a woman is either too assertive or too passive, or she is either competent or likeable, but rarely finds a balance between the two.

But the group also learned that it’s not just men versus women in the workplace — women also stereotype each other, in most cases without realizing that they are doing so.

“Part of the reason that we struggle to address the biases towards women is because we don’t want to address that we have some biases of our own,” explained Meyer.

“It’s all about being aware of our prejudices and supporting one another,” she added. “We need to make these issues visible in a way that doesn’t make people feel attacked, and remind them that they cannot even begin to treat everyone equally until they let go of their biases.”

The group left with valuable advice about the importance of speaking up and sharing their point of view, how to negotiate by finding a connection with the person whom you are negotiating with, and how to adjust your communication style by reading people’s reactions.

The next segment, “Women and Confidence,” will take place in the Posner Hall room 151 on Jan. 29 at 3:00 p.m. For more information, contact Leanne Meyer.