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Management in Practice

Discussion: Women and Leadership

What does it mean to be a leader and a woman? How much do bias and cultural assumptions still present challenges for women as they move up in their careers? A panel of accomplished Yale SOM alumnae discussed their experiences of leadership and management and reflect on strategies women can use to navigate in the workplace.

This webinar, on December 5, 2012, was moderated by Victoria Brescoll, assistant professor of organizational behavior, whose work focuses on the impact of stereotypes on individuals’ status within organizations, particularly the status of individuals who violate gender stereotypes. Panelists included Beth Axelrod '89, Linda Mason '80, and Brande Stellings YC '89.


Beth Axelrod '89, Senior Vice President, Human Resources, eBay

As eBay Inc.’s Senior Vice President, Human Resources, Beth is responsible for all aspects of the company's human resources capabilities designed to drive performance of the business. These include HR strategy, recruiting, learning and development, compensation, benefits and the continuing evolution of the company's culture. Beth also serves as the Chairperson of the eBay Foundation, which oversees eBay’s philanthropic endeavors.

Prior to joining eBay in March 2005, Beth was Chief Talent Officer at WPP Group, one of the world's leading communications services groups, where she was also an executive director. She was responsible for all aspects of HR worldwide. Before WPP, Beth spent nearly 12 years at McKinsey & Company where she was a principal serving clients’ strategy and organization needs.

Beth sits on the Advisory Board of a small private investment banking and financial advisory firm. She holds a B.S.E. degree with a concentration in Finance from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and a Master’s degree in Public and Private Management (MPPM) from the Yale School of Management.

Victoria Brescoll, Assistant Professor of Organizational Behavior

Professor Brescoll’s research focuses on the impact of stereotypes on individuals’ status within organizations, particularly the status of individuals who violate gender stereotypes. Her study "Can an Angry Woman Get Ahead? Gender, Status Conferral, and Workplace Emotion Expression," published in Psychological Science, concluded that people reward men who get angry but view angry women as incompetent and unworthy of status and power in the workplace. The research was widely reported on in the popular press including the New York Times, Business Week, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, National Public Radio, and U.S. News & World Report. Her other interests include the cultural origins of stereotypes (e.g. the media), corporate social responsibility, and framing messages to improve health policy.

She received her MS, MPhil, and PhD in social psychology from Yale University where she was supported by a graduate research fellowship from the National Science Foundation. She completed her BA in psychology from the University of Michigan. In 2004, Professor Brescoll worked in the office of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Linda Mason '80, Chairman & Founder of Bright Horizons Family Solutions

Linda Mason is chairman and co-founder of Bright Horizons, the largest world-wide provider of worksite child care and early education. Bright Horizons operates more than 750 high quality child development centers for employers across the US, Europe, and India. The company employs 22,000 people and serves more than 80,000 families. Bright Horizons was selected by Fortune magazine in January 2012 for the 13th time as one of the “100 Best Companies to Work For in America”. Ms. Mason is the author of The Working Mother’s Guide to Life, published in November 2002 by Random House.

Ms. Mason also co-founded Horizons for Homeless Children, a Boston-based organization that serves the needs of homeless children throughout New England. HHC is a national model for the care and early education of homeless children.

Linda Mason is also serving as Chair of Mercy Corps, a $300 million international relief and development agency headquartered in the US. Mercy Corps operates in 40 countries serving 17 million people, with major programs in some of the most difficult environments in the world including Iraq, Afghanistan, Darfur, Somalia, and Yemen, among others.

Earlier in her career, Ms. Mason managed large-scale refugee relief operations overseas in Africa and Southeast Asia, working for CARE and Save the Children. She co-authored the book, Rice, Rivalry, and Politics (University of Notre Dame Press, 1983), which looked at the politics and the challenges of the Cambodian relief operation.

Ms. Mason has a BA from Cornell University and an MBA from the Yale School of Management. She serves on the boards of Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the Packard Foundation, and the Yale School of Management.

Brande Stellings YC '89, Vice President, Advisory Services, Professional Services Practice at Catalyst

Brande Stellings, J.D., leads Catalyst's efforts to advance women and promote inclusion within the legal profession. Within Catalyst's global strategic consulting practice, she conducts engagements for professional services firms and advises Fortune 500 companies on the creation and implementation of business-driven diversity and inclusion strategies, with a focus on the advancement of women. She also serves as an advisor to the Catalyst Award Evaluation Committee. Ms. Stellings is an expert on Catalyst research relating to the legal profession and innovative solutions for retaining and advancing women within professional services firms. She also specializes in the formation and operation of employee resource groups (ERGs).

Ms. Stellings serves on the Board of Directors of Legal Momentum (The Women's Legal Defense and Education Fund) and on the Honorary Advisory Board of Pace Law School's New Directions Program for lawyers returning to practice. She formerly chaired (2007-2010) Women in the Profession, a committee of The Association of the Bar of the City of New York

Ms. Stellings practiced law for more than 12 years both within a large corporate law firm and as in-house corporate legal counsel. At NBC Universal Inc., where she served as Vice President, Litigation, Ms. Stellings was co-leader of the award-winning New York/New Jersey chapter of the GE Women's Network and a member of NBC Universal's Affinity Council. Prior to NBC, she worked at Cravath, Swaine & Moore as a litigation associate. Ms. Stellings received her J.D. cum laude from the Harvard Law School and graduated magna cum laude from Yale College.