Gabriela Cora, M.D., M.B.A.

Gabriela Cora M.D., M.B.A.

Alpha Females

Wise Latina Woman

As compared to a "wise white male".

Posted Jun 03, 2009

These three words seem to have raised much controversy when paired with “as compared to a wise white male.”

Many have called Sotomayor a racist for uttering these words and even president Obama is trying to say she misspoke, that others were taking her words out of context or that she didn’t mean what she said.

Although some of us could have made a similar statement without the comparison, “Wise women with rich experiences may make excellent decisions,” whenever we end up comparing ourselves to others we may get into trouble.

A couple of years ago, I was a panelist and award recipient at the Latina Woman Business of the Year event in Miami. During the discussion, one of the questions we were asked was whether men had interfered in our way to success. The other panelists agreed that was the case. I didn’t agree and was the last to speak. I calmly said that sometimes men may get into a woman’s way to go up the ladder but that, some other times, it is other women who may place obstacles and not allow their fellow colleagues to move up. The audience (with both men and women) came to life. Were my colleagues sexist for making this statement? Was I being sexist for making my comment? How did bias play a role for each of our statements? By the way, this experience led me to write Alpha Female Leader over that weekend!

Some of my fellow panelists had physical reactions to my statement. Some were upset. One came to me after the event and told me totally agreed but she couldn’t say this in public. In the end, though, the one who seemed to be the most upset by my statement ended up saying she would prefer to have a male boss.

I work with men and women but most of my clients are men. I have been hired to be the first woman consultant by some all-male groups in Fortune 500 companies.  I have always felt that I have been hired because of the quality of my work and not because I am a woman, white, or Latina.

The wise, I like, though..