BWIB Lunch with Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher

Ellen Tauscher and I
Ellen Tauscher and I

On Friday, November 1, 2013, Ellen Tauscher sat down for a brown bag lunch with Berkeley Women in Business (BWIB) at 119 Moses Hall. The event was organized by BWIB in collaboration with the Robert T. Matsui Center for Politics and Public Service.

Ellen Tauscher is UC Berkeley’s 2013 Matsui Lecturer. She is the former Democratic representative of California’s 10th congressional district and former Under Secretary of State. She had a 14-year career on Wall Street with Bache & Co. and is the first woman to become a Member of the New York Stock Exchange. She also has experience in entrepreneurial ventures, founding Child Care Registry, Inc in 1992.

Additionally, she was a former officer of the American Stock Exchange and an investment banker for Bear Stearns. She currently sits on the Board of Directors of three public corporations as a strategic advisor for developing narratives for implementing good corporate governance.

Congresswoman Tauscher’s talk with BWIB members was brief, but intimate and inspiring. During the hour-long session, Tauscher provided valuable advice to help women get ahead. She started off by introducing herself, which inevitably led to her discussion of the sad reality that male still dominate both the political and business worlds.

BWIB listen intently to Congresswoman Tauscher. Photo courtesy of the Matsui Center
BWIB listen intently to Congresswoman Tauscher. Photo courtesy of the Matsui Center

She explained that there is a deficit in the kind of sensitive and fair leadership that only women can provide. Males do everything matter-of-factly, whereas females take more consideration into factoring ethics and equity in decision making. Therefore it is essential that the patriarchy is modified.

When a woman is put into a leadership position, Tauscher believes it is crucial that she “break down the door, kick it back, get as many women through as possible, and pull others behind [her] through… Don’t walk into a room and stay there alone.”

The goal is not for women to take over. Rather, for women to constitute 50% of the bodies sitting at the table. Apparently, Tauscher is the only woman on two of the public boards that she is involved in.

In order to address this inequality, Tauscher provided two key action steps; namely feminize the male ladder of success by 1.) Forming Alliances; and 2.) Supporting Female Leaders.

1.) Form Alliances

The patriarchal system of success is very natural to men. They very easily develop hierarchies of leadership amongst themselves, and can appoint a “top dog” or head as well as finding their positions in the pyramid without exerting too any effort.

Men have traditionally been able to succeed by patronizing this form of patriarchy. In doing so, they often pat each other in the back.

Tauscher urges that women follow this same blueprint: form alliances to create a power structure. Size is extremely important in leadership. As an individual woman, our voice is just as good as other voices. However, when formed into a coalition, women become single amoebas morphed into an organism; having adequate mass to influence decisions.

2.) Support Female Leaders

Consequently, it is critical for women to support each other to amplify our potential for success. Tauscher recommends organizing a community of women wherein each individual should share an opinion, and have another member of the group assert that the individual’s opinion is right, and repeat this as a show of support. This activity will allow women to develop stronger confidence and feeling more secure about their stance.

Moreover, there is an unnecessary tension between working women and stay-at-home wives. Housewives often feel threatened by the woman in the office, pulling back women’s progress in bigger environments. Tauscher insists that we move past this petty rivalry and support each other in all our endeavors; as it is only when women are united that we can ultimately get results.

Berkeley Women in Business with Ellen Tauscher
Berkeley Women in Business with Ellen Tauscher

In concluding the session, Tauscher reaffirmed the truth that all the attendees that day had power and a voice. Women tend to be less confident of our talents compared to our male counterparts. She assured us that everyone in the room had brains. That being said, we all had influence over someone who was smart: ourselves. She claims that as long as we are not doubtful of our life plans and are willing to project our unique skills, there will be someone interested in our contributions; and we will be successful.

Denice Sy
Class of 2014

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