SYLVIA ANN HEWLETT (1996)

Sylvia Ann Hewlett
Sylvia Ann Hewlett

With her bestselling books and popular articles for The Harvard Business Review, Sylvia Ann Hewlett is charting new ground for professional women and minorities and the companies that employ them.

An economist with two decades of "thought leadership" on issues of gender and diversity, Dr. Hewlett is director of the Gender and Public Policy Program at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs. She also is the founder and President of the Center for Work-Life Policy, a not-for-profit organization that helps employers design, promote, and implement workplace policies to increase their productivity and enhance the personal well-being of their employees.

In her Harvard Business Review article, "Off-Ramps and On-Ramps: Keeping Talented Women on the Road to Success," Hewlett pointed to a disturbing economic trend—large numbers of highly qualified women dropping out of mainstream careers. Corporations, she found, provide women with many "off-ramps" along the career highway, but few "on-ramps." "Given current demographic and labor market trends," she warned, "it's imperative that employers learn to reverse this brain drain... Companies that can develop practices to tap into the female talent pool over the long haul will enjoy a substantial competitive advantage."

With this aim, Dr. Hewlett founded the private-sector Task Force, "The Hidden Brain drain," comprised of leaders and experts from the business world and academia. The group focuses on creating conditions that allow employers to better retain and more fully tap into the productive energies of women and minorities over their lifespans.

Dr. Hewlett is the bestselling author of Creating a Life, which details the difficulties of professional women who find it challenging to combine high-flying careers with motherhood.

—Courtesy of Royce Carlton

Recommended Reading

Creating a Life: Professional Women and the Quest for Children
Creating a Life: Professional Women and the Quest for Children
by Sylvia Ann Hewlett.