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Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

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Today's Big Idea: Rethinking the Workplace

The Big Idea for Tuesday, May 29, 2012

This year, more women than men will graduate from institutions of higher education. Women now constitute about 46% of the workforce and earn 57% of undergraduate degrees. But a recent report showed that female university students in the EU expect to earn less than men once they graduate. And they're right. 

Women hold just 15.7% of seats on the boards of U.S.-based Fortune 500 companies, according to Forbes"We live in a culture where competence and likability have an inverse relationship for a woman,” says Tara Sophia Mohr, who coaches women in executive leadership roles. The gender gap shows up not just in a difference in wages, but in "the way our institutions are structured, the way the workplace is structured. We live in a patriarchal culture. Things are changing, but our workplaces still come from a model that was built for men."

What will it take to rethink our workplaces in a way that embraces and pushes for the contributions of women? Former IOSCO chair Jane Diplock speaks to how we can combat the quiet sexism that is rarely articulated, but often makes itself visible in the form of doubt and disrespect from one's superiors. 

Harvard Business School's Rosabeth Moss Kanter argues that if we want more women in leadership positions, we must transform our relationship to work so that women don't feel they need to sacrifice having a family in order to advance their career or to sacrifice their careers in order to have a family. 




  1. 1 How to Get More Women in the Boardroom
    Big Think Editors Think Tank
  2. 2 Why Brilliant Women Should Be More Arrogant
    Megan Erickson Think Tank
  3. 3 Lehman Sisters Wouldn't Have Failed
    John Cookson Women and Power
  4. 4 What Needs to Change for Women in Business?
    Rosabeth Moss Kanter

Today's Big Idea: Rethinkin...

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