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Morra Aarons-Mele Headshot

If Wal-Mart Can Change a Noodle, the Wall St Journal Can Put a Woman in a Picture

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This week, someone told me that Wal-Mart, as part of its efforts to increase sustainability and cost-cutting among its stores and suppliers, worked with General Mills to rejig the curvature of the pasta in Hamburger Helper to reduce package waste. It's true: "Smoother noodles mean a pasta that will settle, allowing for less air in the pouch and a smaller box for the product, reducing waste and eventually lowering overall product cost," writes Evie Blad from the Benton County Daily Record. If Wal-Mart, world's largest retailer, can go to all that effort and make a noodle smaller in an effort to change the status quo, why can't the Wall St Journal change?

Here's my point. In Monday's Wall St Journal, etchings of five men--the new "business gurus"-- looked wisely at me. The recently compiled list of the 20 most influential business thinkers does not include one woman. Not one. Apparently the 2003 list included one woman, Harvard's Rosabeth Moss Kanter.

Rankings, compiled by professor Thomas H. Davenport at Babson College, use a combination of Google hits, media mentions in Lexis Nexus and academic citations under the term "business guru." Clearly the top 20 are seriously influential, but I find it hard to believe they couldn't find one woman. Even for the picture.

Business school enrollment is still about 30% female. Most top schools baldly claim to try to attract more women. In the Fortune 100, only 9.4 percent of clout titles (those higher than vice president) are women. And no wonder. If we don't see them, how can we aspire to be them? I feel like I should be writing this column in 1967 but I'm not. Editors and business establishment need to work a little harder, I think. If media and influencers don't literally show pictures of women with influence in business leadership, we may forget there are any.

I'f you're so inclined, nominate women business leaders. Big thinkers. Influencers. right now. I think Arianna Huffington is one. Barack Obama's campaign, no small business itself, is run by Betsy Myers, COO.Ruth Wageman, who has been professor at the most elite business schools, is doing ground-breaking work on developing teams that work. Deborah Meyerson and Maureen Scully's "Tempered Radicalism" allows change-makers at work to succeed in an organization while pursuing agendas and values important to them and the world. Maria Shriver is publishing on leadership and is in her way, a tempered radical. And there's always Oprah. If she isn't a leadership guru, I don't know who is. Rhonda Byrne wrote The Secret and while it isn't highbrow, it's outsold anything in the Wall St Journal list's oeuvre. Forrester Research's Charlene Li's "Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies" is a business best-seller. Influential women business gurus are out there.

After all, if a noodle is worth giving thought to, surely 52% of the population is too.