Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Eli goodbye

I will not see another pomegranate again without thinking of Eli and her great pomegranate cook-off. To me the event epitomized so many things about her, starting with:
  • Take-no-prisoners approach to competition. As I mentioned, this was a friendly cookoff with friends. But she planned and strategized for this like Hannibal plotting his course over the Pyrenees.
  • Her love of food. This came up again in my last trip with Eli to California, when we went to a vegan restaurant for lunch. As we drove away from that meal I started musing about how much healthier a vegan lifestyle was ... and she interrupted me with a very serious, "But Mari--we're foodies. Who are we kidding? We come across the best ever cheeseburger, we're gonna HAVE that cheeseburger." Touche, Eli. And the care with which she constructed the pomegranate dinner menu was proof of that--she was as obsessive about food quality as she is about the quality of projects on GlobalGiving.
  • Her love of people and ability to create communities. This cookoff was a long-standing competition she had had with friends, and she and her friends had managed to create a tradition out of it and kept to it in spite of busy schedules and changing lives. She's done the same in the supply fortress at GlobalGiving. It's always been one of the things I have most admired about Eli.
So as you can see, all of these things will stand Eli in great stead as she makes your migration north. Portland IS the next San Francisco as foodie haven, and being able to scale the Pyrenees will be a great asset in the Western mountains of Maine. And the Maine Womens' Foundation will be an incredible beneficiary of Eli's ability to create communities around her wherever she goes.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Gender and Prominence

Two things came together for me several weeks ago about gender and prominence.

One, I got asked by a former intern who is a grad student at University of Michigan if I could recommend a speaker on international development to him. He and his colleagues had already lined up Joseph Stiglitz, Guy Pfefferman, Allan Meltzer, and Stan Fischer--and he wanted my help in rounding out the group with someone with a critical view of the international financial institutions, preferably a woman. And even though the students had managed to line up a male foursome--an impressive male foursome at that--I had a hard time coming up with more than two. Nancy Birdsall and Jessica Einhorn were the only women I could come up with who had the kind of stature I felt the other panel members had. And as I thought about it, it bothered me that I could think of other possible panelists, but they were all male.

The Slate article also asked "Why aren't there more female CEOs?" a couple of days after my intern's query, and just yesterday, the New York Times covered the dearth of female bosses. The articles do a much better job of exploring the whys and wheretofores than I can, but it's a lot more disquieting to be asked to come up with options yourself, and discover that you can't do it. That's when you can't just blame the board members of the companies for not being imaginative or inclusive enough. Damn, damn, damn ...

P.S. I suggested both Nancy and Jessica to my intern, and added Manish Bapna to the list feeling that I wasn't giving him enough wiggle room given that people's schedules are so booked. After all, I was as interested in injecting more diversity--any dimension of diversity!--into his august panel as he was.