Lynn Cronin '73
What Being an Alumna Means to Me...
I couldn't have written Damned If She Does, Damned If She Doesn't: Rethinking the Rules of the Game That Keep Women from Succeeding in Business without the experiences I had at Manhattanville College. The time and place of my undergraduate education deeply informed my concepts of gender and work relationships.
When I was a freshman, Manhattanville had parietals even my father couldn't come up to see my Spellman dorm room except on Sunday afternoons. By the time I graduated, Manhattanville was fully co-ed, with men and women living in suites next door to each other in Dammann and Tenney. Both the single-sex and the co-ed experiences taught me invaluable lessons. Ironically, I found that being a woman in an all-female college made my gender a non-issue. That is, since everyone was female, being a woman was non-distinguishing. As such, I needed to build my identity on more substantive, intellectual components of my personality being a math major, assuming leadership positions (e.g., president of Founders Hall). When Manhattanville began admitting men, I learned to live and work in a co-ed world. I learned to relate to men not just as romantic interests, but as intellectual companions, friends, and peers in an environment of achievement.
The duality of my particular Manhattanville experience helped me to crystallize my thinking about the role of gender in the workplace, laying the groundwork for the ideas presented in Damned If She Does, Damned If She Doesn't. I am particularly proud of this work, and appreciative to Manhattanville for its influence on my thinking.
In 1973, when Lynn Cronin went hunting for her first corporate job, the best offer she received was an administrative assistant to an insurance salesman even though she possessed a mathematics degree and couldn't type. Working her way out of that dead-end position was her first step in navigating the gender divide of the business world. Along the way she achieved the demanding professional credential of Fellow of the Society of Actuaries, built a 25-plus year career in human resources consulting, and co-authored with her husband, Howard Fine, Damned If She Does, Damned If She Doesn't: Rethinking the Rules of the Game That Keep Women from Succeeding in Business.
Lynn has worked at several human resource consulting firms over the course of her career. Her longest tenure, and where she attained partnership, was with Hewitt Associates, currently the world's largest HR consulting/outsourcing firm. In her capacity as a consultant, she was on the forefront of the flexible benefits movement and has helped clients deal with a wide variety of challenging strategic issues in human resources. Lynn's client list has included such notable companies as Seagram, New York Life Insurance, Avis Rent-A-Car, Sony Music Entertainment, Turner Construction, Metropolitan Life Insurance, Westvaco, Paramount Pictures, Pearson, and Deutsche Bank. In addition to her consulting role, Lynn has worked as the vice president of management development for Sony Music Entertainment where she collaborated with her company's senior executives to identify future global business leaders.
On the personal side, Lynn and Howard have been married for over thirty years. They have two children in their 20's, both of whom graduated from Brown University. Their daughter, Drew, is currently attending Harvard Business School and is simultaneously earning a masters of science degree from the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology. Lee, their son who regularly teases Lynn that she raised a male feminist is entering graduate school at Northeastern University to study marine biology.
Lynn now is the co-head of the Coed Company Consultancy (www.coedcompany.com), where she works with companies on gender issues in the workplace.
For more information on her book, click the title. Damned If She Does, Damned If She Doesn't: Rethinking the Rules of the Game That Keep Women from Succeeding in Business.