'Civility isn't always the case in the boardroom'.

Author:Kristie, James

From Earning It by Joann S. Lublin. Copyright [C]2016 by the author. Published by Harper Business (www.hc.com).

Janet M. Clarke thought highly of nearly all the men on the board of Gateway Inc., a maker of personal computers that named her its first female board member in 2005. She took a spot vacated by Ted Waitt, the company's founder. But she clashed early on with an older male director, who began yelling at her during one of her first board dinners, held in a private room of a California hotel.

"Janet, I am very angry. You're a friend of Don Rumsfeld," the director said, referring to the then U.S. secretary of defense. "Nobody can be friendly with him. You must be a Repubhcan conservative. That's a lousy party."

Clarke indeed was a Republican and a friend of Rumsfeld's, with whom she had served on the board of Princeton University, their alma mater. But she decided to ignore the attack. "If you fight back, you will go down to the gutter with the person who is attacking you," she told me. "As a woman, you can't win by fighting."

The next morning, Clarke and fellow Gateway directors assembled for their board...

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