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Women in Business: Mary Kay Ash

March 29, 2010 | Elizabeth

In the 1960s, many women were still trying to figure out their role in the business world. It was a largely dominated male arena, and women were labeled as being only ‘homemakers.’ Women began to build steam on both sides of the spectrum-both conservative and liberal. Mary Kay Ash didn’t fight the male dominated business world with politics but rather showed men and women what she could really accomplish.

Mary Kay graduated from the University of Houston in 1948 and had a family with three children. She eventually got a divorce and in order to support her family, she earned a job at Stanley Home Products. She later transferred to World Gift Co. where she rose to national training director. She was ambitious and determined to elevate her role in the business and became extremely frustrated when a man she trained received the promotion that she deserved.

In 1963, she retired and began writing a book for women in business which eventually evolved into Mary Kay Cosmetics company. She planned on opening it with her second husband, but he died before the first store opened and her son took his place.

She often spoke of “praising people to success” used the slogan “God first, family second, career third” to express her insistence that the women in her company keep their lives in balance.

Mary Kay died in 2001 on Thanksgiving Day, but her legacy lives on. She has published three bestseller books-one of which is used in the Harvard Business Program Mary Kay on People Management.

As a women who are studying business and want to make their way into the corporate world one day, Mary Kay shows us that even if time and gender are against you, you can do anything on your own. You have the potential inside of you, male or female, to be successful.

What do you think of Mary Kay? Do you think women in business have to be ruthless and aggressive? Or can we keep our feminine and gentle qualities and still succeed?

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