March 8–10, 2006

Every year on March 8th, all around the world, millions celebrate International Women’s Day. At Harvard in 2006, this day was commemorated through an intensive three-day conference run by the Center for Public Leadership (CPL). Leadership 2006 convened students, practitioners, professors, and the public to explore, analyze and celebrate women and leadership.



CPL hosted this conference in collaboration with the Women and Public Policy Program, with the inspiration and generous support of the Women’s Leadership Board. The ambitious program—CPL’s first three-day conference—was designed by Research Director Barbara Kellerman and facilitated by Ruth Wageman. With a star-studded cast of scholars and an exciting round of panels, the conference had much in store for its attendees.

The first afternoon consisted of a fascinating pair of “Pre-Conference Student Sessions”: “Negotiation 101: Why Women Don’t Ask” (Linda Babcock); and “Financing Your Future: Managing Debt and Everything Else You Need to Know” (Linda Coughlin). In the evening, all attendees gathered for an International Women’s Day reception to kick off the conference.

The second day’s events began with remarks by Lawrence Summers, then-President of Harvard University. Marie Wilson, Founder of The White House Project, gave a stimulating lunchtime presentation: “It’s Time: The New Women’s Political Movement.” The day concluded with the film “North Country” and a discussion with Clara Bingham, author of the book upon which the movie was based. Sandwiched between these were a series of panels, including:

  • Gender and Negotiation
    • “It Depends on Who is Asking: Social Incentives for Sex Differences in the Propensity to Initiate Negotiations” – Hannah Riley Bowles (Chair)
    • “Gender Differences in the Initiation of Negotiation” – Linda Babcock
    • “Rational Women – Irrational Men? Evidence from Research on Trust” – Iris Bohnet, Harvard University
    • “Women’s Path to Leadership: Episodes in Claiming Authority” – Kathleen McGinn, Harvard University
  • Women in Elected Office: A Comparative Perspective
    • “Opening the Door: Women Leaders and Constitution-Building in Iraq and Afghanistan” – Pippa Norris (Chair)
    • “Women in U.S. Electoral Politics: A Global Perspective on a National Situation” – Victoria Budson
    • “A ‘Critical Mass’ of Women: Does It Only Exist in Theory?” – Drude Dahlerup
  • Women in Organizations
    • “Leadership Style Matters, Especially For Women” – Alice Eagly (Chair)
    • “Becoming an Authentic Leader” – Bill George
    • “Rethinking Style: How Concerns about Style get in the Way of Leadership” – Debra Meyerson
    • “Sex Effects in Evaluations of Transformational Leaders: An Advantage for Female Leaders” – Gary Powell
  • Work/Life Balance Issues
    • “Just Who’s ‘Opting Out’? The Global Impact of Women’s Absence from Policy Making” – Swanee Hunt (Chair)
    • “Gender, Leadership, and the Natural Order” – Rosalind Chait Barnett
    • “Running from Cover: Time to Break the New Glass Ceiling” – Patricia Gillette
    • “Keeping Talented Women on the Road to Success” – Sylvia Ann Hewlett
  • Women in the Judiciary

After an exhilarating day of panels, the conference attendees returned for the third day, which featured a terrific speech by Lt. Gen. Ann Dunwoody, Deputy Chief of Staff, United States Army. Before and after her lunchtime presentation, another host of panels ensued:

David Gergen, Director of CPL, delivered the concluding address and the conference concluded with a reception at the home of Professor Gergen and his wife.

Not only was Leadership 2006 a success, it was followed up with an impressive book project. Barbara Kellerman and Deborah Rhode co-edited a volume entitled: Women and Leadership: The State of Play and Strategies for Change (Jossey-Bass, 2007), which includes chapters by many of the conference participants.