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20 WOMEN TO WATCH
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pioneers of women's business, continued ...Published: March 01, 2010

Marian Bergeson
Breaking the glass ceiling
Since taking her post at the Orange County Business Council, Dunn has been instrumental in the renewal of Measure M funding, to cover the next 30 years of transportation improvements in the region.
   
Throughout her career, Dunn says she has often looked to Marian Bergeson for inspiration.
   
Bergeson, 84, is a pioneer in her own right, becoming the first woman to ever serve in both the California State Assembly and California State Senate. She also served on the Orange County Board of Supervisors from 1995 to ’96, before being named California Secretary of Education, a job she held from 1996 to ’99.
   
Though retired, Bergeson currently chairs the Great Park of Irvine Conservancy Board, serves on the state’s Transportation Commission and serves on the board of directors for the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, among other educational initiatives.
   
A Newport Beach resident since 1959, Bergeson says she has witnessed the impact effective businesswomen have had on the region: “Women have been at the forefront … in a county where a booming economy created a great opportunity for development.”
   
She also says she thinks the days of gender discrimination are over.
   
“It is good ideas, good strategy and good judgment that push organizations forward – whether in governments, nonprofits or in the private sector,” she says
   
Still, disparity remains in executive boardrooms.
   
“In 1995, female Fortune 500 CEOs totaled 0.2 percent,” says Cal State Fullerton Associate Dean S. Irene Matz. “In 2008, the percentage was 3 percent. We see a lot of women in mid-management positions – that hasn’t been the problem. The problem has been the CEO positions.”
   
While Dunn didn’t let gender stand in the way of her rise to the top, she says she knows other women have fought double standards to achieve the same respect and rights in the business world that men enjoy.
   
Lane says that’s more about stereotyping gender roles than anything else: “When women assert their own opinions in the board room, they can be criticized for that, while that same assertiveness is celebrated in men.”
   
Dunn never let that bother her, either.

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