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Column: Female Executives Offer Advice for Advancement

How can women advance in the workplace? Depends on whom you ask. Below are comments from some successful women, as compiled by The Washington Post.

“Work hard, focus and deliver solid results. Do the job you are in as well as you can. You are in that role because it needs to get done. Don’t use your current position as a platform to look for the next. If you perform well, you will be prepared for the next move and you will be noticed.”

— Ursula Burns ,

Xerox chief executive

“You have to get over ‘The Tiara Syndrome.’ Symptoms include keeping your head down, delivering excellent work, expecting that people will notice — and eventually place a tiara on your head. It’s naive to think that knowing your stuff cold and billing the requisite hours are enough to make the cut these days. . . . The playing field is not yet equal for women, and women are evaluated differently than men. The fact is women have to negotiate for things for themselves that their male colleagues take for granted.”

— Carol Frohlinger

co-author, Her Place at the Table

“I knew from an early age that I wanted to a lead a company. I observed that people are strategic about brands and business, but not necessarily strategic about themselves. I developed a strategic process for my career plan that set the final destination, developed the career track, identified skills to leverage and skills to build, took line positions to gain experience, and sought leadership and management training on the job.”

— Denise Morrison,

Campbell Soup chief executive

“Be open to opportunities, because when I was in college I never could have predicted the course of my life, never. I never could have sat where you are sitting and said to myself: OK. I’m going to graduate from Wellesley, then I’m going to go to Yale Law School, then I’m going to meet a guy from Arkansas and I’m going to fall in love, and then I’m going to move to Arkansas, and then I’m going to marry him, and then he’s going to be governor, and then he’s going to president. I mean, that is not how life works. I mean, really, right?”

— Hillary Clinton

“My generation often accepted the idea that the private/public roles of women and men were ‘natural.’ Your generation has made giant strides into public life, but often still says: How can I combine career and family? I say to you from the bottom of my heart that when you ask that question, you are setting your sights way too low. First of all, there can be no answer until men are asking the same question. Second, every other modern democracy in the world is way, way ahead of this country in providing a national system of child care and job patterns adapted to the needs of parents, both men and women. So don’t get guilty. Get mad. Get active. If this is a problem that affects millions of unique women, then the only answer is to organize.”

— Gloria Steinem

“The doors to equal opportunity have been cracked wide open, but too few women are willing to push on through them. We have to stop putting boundaries around our own vision for what we can do. We must act now, with intention, to assume our share of leadership roles. I’ve found a repetitive pattern of women coming to power and stepping back.”

— Gloria Feldt

author of No Excuses

“When it comes to integrating career and family, planning too far in advance can close doors rather than open them. I have seen this happen over and over. Women rarely make one big decision to leave the work force. Instead, they make a lot of small decisions along the way, making accommodations and sacrifices that they believe will be required to have a family. Of all the ways women hold themselves back, perhaps the most pervasive is that they leave before they leave.”

— Sheryl Sandberg

author of Lean In

“Young women can take back control — and change the odds — by being much more intentional about their private lives. . . . Timing is at the heart of the matter. If a high-achieving woman were to make finding a partner a priority in her 20s or early 30s, attaining both career and children would be a much less daunting proposition. Intentionality is a critical concept, for if ambitious women focus on their careers and leave their private lives on automatic pilot, it is extremely likely that family will be squeezed out.”

— Sylvia Ann Hewlett

author of Creating a Life