View the Archives!
Director of Publications
Anne Arundel 100
Life after St. Mary's: Alum Helps Us See "Beyond the Boys' Club"
Written by Suzanne Doyle-Morris '97
Typing this out on a 21st- century laptop precariously balanced on an antique oak desk at my house in Cambridge, England, reminds me that as much as some things change, they also stay the same. I am still building from the undergraduate mix of two majors, women’s studies and psychology, that I completed at St. Mary’s College in 1997, just 13 years and thousands of miles away.
A native Marylander, I left the U.S. for Dublin, Ireland, just two weeks after I graduated, with an overflowing backpack and a one-way ticket to Ireland. I wanted few regrets in life and knew that if I wanted to have “an adventure,” the best time would be right after college before the weight of a future family, graduate school, and a job made taking off for a continent I’d never even visited, let alone lived and worked in, too difficult an option.
My goal was to work in Europe for two years, before moving on to Australia, where I was born. But as all of those who have lived a few years past graduation know, life doesn’t always unfold as planned. Indeed I worked in both Dublin and London, but after getting accepted into the University of Cambridge to do my Ph.D., meeting the man who would become my husband, and falling in love with life in the U.K., I am still happily here. After completing my doctorate, which looked at the experiences of women engineers, I had additional training as an executive coach. What I kept finding as I worked, lived, and traveled across Europe was that many of the issues faced by women in the U.S. and Europe are similar. There are challenges, such the ubiquitous juggling act between family and work, and a pay gap that persists, despite the mounting statistical evidence demonstrating bottomline benefits for organizations that have women in board-level positions.
I set up my own company to help employers develop and retain their talented women; it was a perfect fit of my academic background and passion for helping professional women succeed in their careers. And this year, I published my first book – Beyond the Boys’ Club: Strategies for Achieving Career Success as a Woman Working in a Male Dominated Field, which features interviews with senior women working in science, technology, fi nance, law and consultancy
Ever since I was a little girl, I have been fascinated by the stories of successful and high-achieving American growing up in the >early 1980s. I loved reading about dynamic girl detective Nancy Drew and the outspoken clever Jo in Little Women. Other role models of my time included astronaut Sally Ride and even the “take-no-prisoners” Charlie’s Angels characters. What makes successful women tick, I wondered. What can we learn from them?
The women I interviewed were all willing to share the mistakes they made and the strategies they used to get ahead. I’m pleased to say the book has received great press in the U.K. media. However, the most satisfying feedback I get s from individual women who tell me how much the strategies within the book resonate with them. It’s been my experience as an executive coach that learning to be politically savvy to get the attention you and your team deserves is a fundamental skill that doesn’t occur to most women as they start their careers. I find that what most women lack is not the technical skill to take their career to the next level but the knowledge of how to raise their profile and the confidence to take that next step.
In the modern workplace, it is simply not enough to do a good job and hope to be noticed. We must draw attention to our achievements, the quality of our work and what we are delivering. Waiting to be noticed and rewarded for our efforts simply puts too much power in the hands of other people—and these ‘other people’ are not mind-readers. Passively hoping your efforts are being noticed is tantamount to handing over the direction of your career to someone else. A reluctance to draw attention to their wins costs women the most in workplaces where they are surrounded by men who are usually more comfortable with self-promotion and asking for opportunities.
I think younger women are more confident than perhaps a generation ago, but the challenges they will face − especially as they begin to combine work and a family and have to be more strategic with the little time they have – leaves me convinced that understanding how the game is played and indeed won, is as useful for seasoned professionals as it is for today’s graduate.
Suzanne Doyle-Morris, a Greenbelt, Maryland native, graduated from St. Mary’s College of Maryland summa cum laude in 1997 with a major in psychology and women’s studies. She is an international executive coach specializing in developing female leaders and is author of Beyond The Boys’ Club: Strategies for Achieving Career Success as a Woman Working in a Male Dominated Field. The book is available through U.S. book web sites. To learn more about Doyle-Morris, go to www.beyondtheboysclub.com or www.doylemorris.com.
Empowering the Modern Woman
Advice from coach and St. Mary’s alumna Suzanne Doyle-Morris:
• Secure mentors as early as you can. The first job I got in Dublin was based on a loose contact from a St. Mary’s psychology professor who had attended a European conference several years earlier.
• Get in the habit of speaking publicly. Think about it: In a team project who gets the most recognition for a project? The person who worked until late at night compiling the data or the person who stood up and presented it all the next morning?
• Take risks when you feel 80% ready. If you wait until you feel 100% ready, you will never get there. Great opportunities come rarely and if you wait for perfection, you will never grow.