Prospects for women in business and politics are better than ever, best-selling author Patricia Aburdene told a crowd of 40 at a seminar last night at the Cronkhite Graduate Center.
"The old boy network and business as usual are falling apart," said Aburdene, a Radcliffe Public Policy Fellow. She challenged women to "seize all opportunities" rapidly becoming available to them.
In Megatrends for Women, Aburdene's latest book written with her husband John Naisbutt, the authors predict that a woman will become President by 2004.
Aburdene cites as her primary evidence the substantial inroads women have made in the populous states of Texas and California. Women hold positions as governor and senator in Texas, while California has sent two women to the Senate.
To illustrate the significance of these political gains made by women, Aburdene noted that the two states have been home to six of the last eight Presidential election winners. In all states, she said, women have found new avenues to political authority.
"We re-elected 90 percent of incumbents [to Congress]," she said. "Because of that, women have had to find new routes to power, and they've found them within the states."
But recent advances by women in politics are dwarfed by those made in business, Aburdene said.
"Even though 1992 was called the year of women in politics, it should have been called the year of women in business," Aburdene said, adding that women are starting new businesses today at twice the rate of males.
The author warned that companies continuing to hold back women will face dire consequences.
"You can't underestimate the importance of the female consumer," she said after reeling off a slew of statistics to substantiate that point.
For example, 75 percent of men's apparel is purchased by women, she said.
"And [many large companies] will decline because their male-dominated executive boards are out of touch," Aburdene said.
Aburdene, who has also co-authored bestsellers Megatrends and Megatrends 2000, said that gentler leadership is a necessity in an age where workers are more skilled. Citing a University of California study, she noted that women supply increasingly important interpersonal traits in greater measures than men.
"Leadership is shifting from order-giving as a mode to coaching and teaching as a mode," she said.