As part of 21CF’s celebration of Women’s History Month, the Colleague Network & Resource Group Women@21CF (“Women@”) presented a live discussion between Susan Goldberg, National Geographic magazine Editor-in-Chief and National Geographic Partners Editorial Director; and Karen Karbo, author of the new book “In Praise of Difficult Women: Life Lessons from 29 Heroines Who Dared to Break the Rules.” Women@21CF is a Colleague Network & Resource Group that is committed to developing female leadership at all levels and fostering a culture where all women thrive.
Twentieth Century Fox Film Senior Counsel, Business & Legal Affairs, and Co-Chair of Women@21CF Wendy Chong opened the event with a personal anecdote about her struggle to reconcile two different cultures as a first-generation Chinese Canadian immigrant. “In Chinese culture, boys are valued much more than girls, and there were times when I wasn’t sure where I fit in,” she said. “Luckily, my dad is unconventional, and he always encouraged me to go further and taught me that being female does not make me any less capable or deserving of big dreams and accomplishments… I learned from observing [my mother and] her continuous hard work and undeniable ambition to beat the odds, and that power and strength come in many forms.”
Wendy later talked about the complexity and significance of each person’s identity. “In the Women@ family, we choose to celebrate difference. We welcome members from all genders and walks of life. I’ve been so inspired by this experience, and the culmination of today’s event shows the powerful effects of coming together as a community.”
After her remarks, Wendy welcomed Karen to speak about her book, which follows the lives of luminaries such as Frida Kahlo, Nora Ephron, Shonda Rhimes and many more. The book illuminates how the behaviors that often brand women as “difficult” helped these women forge new paths and break new ground in their fields. She discussed with Susan and those in attendance how she selected the 29 women on which to focus, what lessons we can learn from their extraordinary lives, and how we can teach young women to develop confidence and strength.
“A difficult woman, as I define her, is a person who believes her needs, passions and goals are at least as important as those of everyone around her,” Karen said as she read an excerpt from the book. “She is a woman who accepts that, sometimes, the cost of being fully human is upsetting people… Just like anyone (by which I mean men), she has bad days, she makes mistakes, she loses her temper. A difficult woman is a woman who insists on inhabiting the full range of her humanity.”