By  on July 20, 2005

NEW YORK — Work and family challenges, the issue of why more women haven't made it into the corporate suite and China's economic power were points of discussion Tuesday at a breakfast that drew top female executives — as well as dozens of men.

"Women have gained freedom," said Shelley Lazarus, chairman and chief executive officer of Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide. "There are lots of options, and they are balancing a husband, three children and a business trip….I think they're saying, ‘I want to be home with my children. I have this for a brief period of time, and I want to experience it.'"

In addition to Lazarus, speakers at the event, "Women in Power: Views from the Top," were Suzy Welch, co-author of "Winning" and former editor of the Harvard Business Review; Catherine R. Kinney, president and co-chief operating officer of the New York Stock Exchange, and Dr. Caroline A. Kovac, general manager, Healthcare and Life Sciences, IBM. CNBC's Maria Bartiromo moderated.

The discussion at the Four Seasons here was presented by The Week and the The Conference Board. Some 200 people attended, including about 60 men.

Kinney agreed women have a lot more freedom, but said not all have the option of staying home. She said companies need to develop policies that are more friendly to female executives.

Lazarus said the advertising industry always has been about talent, and her company will go to great lengths to keep a talented executive.

"It's amazing what you'd do to keep that talent," she said. "That's the hope for the industry, in general. If you want that person, we'll figure out how to keep that person on their terms," she said.

She recalled that, when she started out, 90 percent of consumers were women. She would be in a business meeting with all men discussing a product such as tampons, and they would turn to her and say, "Well, Shelly, what do women think?"

IBM's Kovac said she sees a lot of women who contribute ideas, organize the team and then stand back.

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