Nancy Pelosi speaks at breakfast from NBCU

This morning, I attended a breakfast event sponsored by Women at NBCU, featuring a keynote speech from Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.

This morning, I attended a breakfast event sponsored by Women at NBCU, featuring a keynote speech from Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. Aside from stopping to say hello as she passed by our awestruck table, Pelosi spoke with current NBC Universal CEO Jeff Zucker a bit about politics, a bit about being a mother, and a lot about her experience as a woman.

"I never intended to be involved in politics," Speaker Pelosi said, "but I saw it as an extension of my role as a mother." She said she asked her youngest daughter, who was still in high school, if it was ok for her to run for Congress in 1987, and not always be at home. The response was something along the lines of "Get a life, Mom!" she said.  

Pelosi talked about her passion of helping children across the country, and improving healthcare and day care options for families.

"What's good for the children is an individual decision that each family should make," she said of the debate surrounding child care and working mothers. "What does it mean for children to have a mother who is self-fulfilled?"

After the keynote, a panel discussion took place, highlighting how marketers can reach and engage with educated women. Moderated by Pat Mitchell, president and CEO of The Paley Center for Media, the panel included Mark Addicks, CMO of General Mills; Kim Brink, executive director of advertising and sales promotion for Cadillac; Tina Brown, founder and editor-in-chief of The Daily Beast; Debora Spar, president of Barnard College; and Donna Speciale, president of investment and activation for MediaVest USA.

Addicks kicked off the panel by noting that marketing isn't just about marketing anymore, "it's all about engagement." He said the biggest shift has been technology and how consumers, particularly female customers, are doing more research before making purchasing decisions.

"We bring products to them, at their passion points, and where we can reach them on their own terms," Brink said, noting that the automotive industry is still predominantly male, despite more women making purchasing decisions regarding cars.
 
Spar talked a bit about the college-age female and how she interacts with technology and brands. "They are fundamentally addicted to choice," she said, "in ways that slightly older people cannot understand."

Speciale added that a variety of choices and varying media habits mean that "marketers are more concerned about content and the environment where they are placing the content" in order to reach women. She also noted that marketers are honing in on community and hyper-local targeted because communities are powerful touch points for women.

This event comes as the Government Accountability Office released its latest figures on the US workforce today. As of 2007, women accounted for 40% of managers, up only slightly from 39% in 2000.

"Corporate structures, they are so rigid," Brown said. "It's pathetic how few women are in the top leadership spots."

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