Some of the top female leaders in business and government and academia and the arts recently met for “Fortune’s” Most Powerful Women Summit. Soledad had the chance to sit down with one of those leaders, Sesame Workshop executive vice president and CMO Sherrie Westin. Westin addresses why there aren’t more women in leadership roles.
“This is somewhat controversial, especially when you’re in a conference like this when you see so many impressive women, women CEOs, heads of Fortune 500 company major divisions, and leaders in the nonprofit area as well,” Westin says. “It’s a wonderful example of how far women have come. But I think there is also that element of choice where women are struggling to balance home and work. And I think often the reason there’s not more of those women CEOs is not because they aren’t able, not because they haven’t been offered, but because at certain times they’ve decided they have to be in a position that allows more flexibility and choice.”
Westin adds, “I think success for an individual woman is being able to create the kind of environment where she is content, that she believes she’s dedicating the time she needs if she has children to those children and to her career. But I do think there is – there is an importance in having larger numbers at the top because, let’s be honest, women leaders are often different. And to have a mix of both male and female at the top of a corporation I think is a really important mix.”
Though the interview was conducted before the first presidential debate, where GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney said he would cut PBS funding if he were elected, Westin addressed the candidate’s prior funding cut statements and says Sesame Street won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.
“Sesame Workshop is a nonprofit organization and also a nonpartisan organization. So I don’t want to be critical of any camp,” Westin says. “We have been on PBS for some 43 years, and we’re partners with PBS and proud of it. So we would always be supportive of broadcasting money. But interestingly Sesame Workshop receives very little money from PBS.”
“Quite frankly, you know, you can debate whether or not there should be funding in public broadcasting, but when they always sort of tout out Big Bird and say we’re going to kill Big Bird, that actually is misleading, because “Sesame Street” will be here,” Westin adds.