Sheryl Sandberg: Why we have too few women leaders

Speaker

Sheryl Sandberg is an American technology executive, activist, and author. As of August 2013, she is the chief operating officer of Facebook.

Summary

Women have made progress towards equality, but this is not reflected in leadership positions. Female heads of state, parliament members, and board positions are only 13-15%, and these have not improved over the past decade. They also need to make tougher decisions between work and lifestyle – with 2/3 of married men in leadership having children, compared to 1/3 of married women.

Sheryl talks about what women can do to stay in the workforce and move towards leadership.

  1. Sit at the table – men tend to oversell themselves, while women underestimate their abilities. Importantly, men attribute their success to themselves, while women will say they got lucky, or someone helped them. No-one gets the promotion if they don’t believe they deserve it. This point is about having the confidence to sell yourself, and let yourself sit at the table or meeting where important decisions are made.
  2. Make your partner a real partner – Women have made more progress in the workforce than they have in the workforce. Even as fulltime workers, women do 2x the housework and 3x the childrearing compared to their fulltime partners. The stigma affects men too, with men sometimes differently by other parents at playdates. Domestic duties need to be as respected as success in the workforce to get more equality here.
  3. don’t leave before you leave – the actions women take to stay in the workforce can sometimes force them out. When she decides to have a child, she has to think about how to find the time to care for it, and she stops pushing for a better job, and better projects. Once you have a child it is really hard to go back to work and leave the child alone. The work needs to be as challenging and interesting as possible, so if you have excluded yourself from rewarding projects then it will be more difficult to get back. The message is to keep pushing for better work right up until you have to leave.

Sheyl has both a young son and a daughter. She doesn’t think leadership equality will happen for her generation, but she wants her son to have a real choice between domestic and workplace responsibilities. She wants her daughter to not only be able to succeed, but also to be liked for it.

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