Alpha Women – Part Two

I recently posted a blog discussing Alpha women in our society, those women whose traits of leadership, self-esteem, and high emotional intelligence lift them up to shine above the crowd. And there are many of them! In fact, I soon realized there are now so many DARE-ing and powerful Alpha women in our country that I needed a part two to this blog. It could make an entire book, for which I am incredibly grateful and proud!

Britton seen from a profile, smiling

Connie Britton

Here are more inspiring over-50 Alpha women across the breadth of industry and entertainment.

  1. Denise Morrison, new CEO of Campbell Soup Company, whose acquisitions have fortified the venerable firm known so well for its tomato soup, by expanding into organic lines. Morrison has also dared to streamline operations by cutting jobs and eliminating redundancies throughout the company.
  2. Connie Britton as “aging” (she’s 45!) country star Rayna James on ABC’s new show, Nashville, has been called the number-one reason to watch the show. Britton is no stranger to playing the Alpha-wife character to an equally Alpha-guy. But her character in Nashville is also dealing with a gut-wrenching career crisis, in that she refuses to heed her record label’s deal to relegate herself to being an opening act for a 20-something starlet to increase ticket sales. To compound that situation, she is navigating a crisis between the questionable ethics of her slithery father and her husband (with whom she has two children and shares a rambling comfortable home). As if that weren’t enough, Rayna is carrying a torch for her troubled but uber-talented musical partner, while laying down the law regarding future contracts together. This plot arc is not so much a suds-fest as what many career women over 40 face when they realize the dreams and desires of their twenties sometimes morph into the nightmares and obsessions of their forties, if they’re not careful and, yes, Alpha about how they Deal. Not only does Rayna Deal in a strong but gracious Alpha way with her first and perhaps true Mr. Right, but she has to deal bravely and stealthily with the husband viewers now know is just “Mr. Right Now.” Go, Rayna, go!
  3. Ginny Rometty, CEO of IBM, who bucked the “move to improve” career advice many women receive early on and instead remained with IBM for more than two decades in key sales and marketing roles. Along the way, she enlisted the right mentors to champion and guide her, eventually being tapped for the top job overseeing one of the historically male bastions of industry.
  4. Christine Baranski

    Christine Baranski as law firm CEO/senior partner Diana Lockhart on CBS’s hit, The Good Wife, personifies some of the most real-life executives I know who are dealing with the internal weaknesses of their firms coupled with external competitors threatening their enterprises and their very careers. She is the quintessential strategist and ultimate Alpha Woman leading and performing at her highest levels. That her character’s particular talent is lawyering doesn’t limit her relevance to any woman manager in any professional service firm, whether in accounting, advertising, marketing, or human resources consulting. On top of all that, she has a wicket sense of humor, can smell a traitor from miles away, and holds her own in romantic encounters with the gorgeous brainy men Alpha enough to woo her.

It is gratifying, even thrilling, that Alpha women are well represented in our lives. Ask any confident woman over 40, and especially those of us over 50, whether we want to be 25 anymore. No way! Nor do we live with dozens of cats – old clichés! Imagine that some people told Adweek it’s just “wishful thinking” that women over 50 are Alpha!

And, if you’re an Alpha woman over 50 in an “Empty Nest” check out my blog on spreading your own wings and making the most of your Alpha self right now: 5 Tips to Turn that Empty Nest Into Your Personal BEST.

As for anything resembling “wishful thinking,” that’s for twenty-year-olds!

Alpha Women not only know better, we live better!



Over-50 Alpha Women

This year both Prevention magazine and Adweek (an ad industry trade publication), published articles on over-50 women referred to as “Alpha Women.” Alpha women over 50 are often discussed in our media, but not everyone is in agreement as to what defines an “Alpha” woman. In fact, Adweek received complaint letters saying that marketers only wish women over 50 were as hip and happening as the magazine reported.

Who ARE those complainants? Have they watched a TV show lately? Have they seen the powerful women over 50 who are leading the charge to rebuild in the face of one of the most devastating storms this country has ever witnessed? Do they read the Wall Street Journal and not notice how many women are not only running Fortune 500 corporations, but some of the most respected nonprofits in the world?

Hurricane Sandy

To me it’s simple: Alpha women over 50 are finally getting their due! If you have any doubts about that, let me remind you that Janet Napolitano, Kathleen Sebelius and Kirsten Gillebrand have all demonstrated a powerful Alpha presence on television and elsewhere in the face of Hurricane Sandy, promising to help the New York/New Jersey areas survive and move on.

The term “Alpha women” is defined by as “the dominant female in a pack,” while The Urban states: “The Alpha woman is “Self-confident, assertive, a natural leader, a woman both Beta women AND men tend to follow. [i] In summary, the traits of leadership, low introversion, healthy self-esteem, and high emotional intelligence seem to be the common factors in the definition of the Alpha woman. And, who better than confident women over 40 to personify that kind of conviction and commitment!

Women over 40 today have more positive role models than ever before, even if they never expect to become Secretary of State, a partner in a law firm, or CEO of a Fortune 500 corporation. In fact, the current TV season has at least a dozen Alpha women in leading roles that are all so realistic it renews my confidence in the medium. (Leave the melodramatic “Stand By Your Man” stereotypes to opera sopranos!)

Here is just a partial list of Alpha women over 40 to inspire you, from entertainment to corporate to politics.

  • Kerry Washington is only 35, but as crisis manager Olivia Pope on the hit ABC show,Scandal,she is surely the wisest “old” person on any show on TV right now. Admittedly, Olivia is in a far-fetched position as real-life executives go: can we really believe the Most Important Man on the Planet is so in love with her he risks matters of national security to be with her? Is it possible a crisis manager is not only able to provide intellectual firepower and command in highly charged situations, but that her passion and conviction make her so compelling a presence that powerful men fall all over themselves to listen to, look at and touch her? From what I’ve seen in many years of dealing with and working in Washington, D.C., the notion is not so far-fetched. Alpha indeed!
  • Indra Nouyi, CEO of Pepsi, who is standing firm even in the face of activist investors who assert she should focus on the beverage aspect of that company’s business. She has chosen instead to diversify (and some say, dilute) beyond beverages to health-oriented products.
  • Hilary Clinton, Secretary of State of the United States, who bravely took the fall recently for the still-hotly debated and agonizing Libyan uprising that resulted in the death of several innocent Americans. Say what you will about her own aspirations to the most important job on the planet, she is the epitome of the “buck stops here” when it concerns a Democratic president whom she (and Big Bad Dog Bill Clinton) are working hard to get re-elected.

Thank the universe that Alpha women are well represented in our lives.


[i] The Urban “Alpha female”