Picks and Pans Review: Talking With...
Mary Wells Lawrence
Still can't get "Plop Plop Fizz Fizz" out of your head after all these years? Now you know who to blame for the Alka-Seltzer jingle, not to mention "Flick your Bic." The first female CEO of a firm traded on the New York Stock Exchange, Mary Wells Lawrence ran the ad agency Wells Rich Greene. Why haven't more women followed as CEOs? Lawrence, 74, says, "When women get close to the top and look at what men do to be successful, a lot of them say, 'Do I want to work 24-hour days and give up everything else? Is that the best life has to offer?' "
Lawrence recounts her adventures in the male-dominated world of Madison Avenue—as well as her battles with uterine and breast cancers—in her book A Big Life in Advertising (Knopf, $26). "Women come up to me everywhere, and they're all singing the same tune," says Lawrence. "They're saying, 'I can't make up my mind. Am I really going to juggle my children and all the things I am interested in in order to throw myself into my career?' They really have choices. In the past we didn't." Her husband of 34 years, former Braniff Airlines CEO Harding Lawrence, who died in January of pancreatic cancer (she has two daughters from a previous marriage) supported her career fully; men, she, thinks, are the ones who get trapped. "For women there are many ideas of success. Men are only starting to understand that." Liza Hamm
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