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Why are there so few women leaders?

September 1, 2011

Ladies!  If you have 15 minutes to spare, watch this TED talk video from Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg!  Guys can watch it too, of course.

If you don’t have time (or you are reading at work… get back to work!), I’ll going to summarize what she says for you.   But the speech is worth listening to for all the little anecdotes and stories that go along with the advice and the stats below.

Sit at the Table

The literal advice is key – if there is a table in your room and your male peers are sitting at the table, you should be too.  Do not sit on the side tables when you belong at the main table.  (If it is all highly ranked people and you are junior, probably don’t take this advice literally!)

Women consistently underestimate their own capabilities.   Women don’t negotiate for themselves in the work place.  Men attribute success to themselves, women attribute their success to external factors.  Success & likability are positively correlated for men, and negatively correlated for women.  (WOW!)

Of these four statistics, only one of them is something that we can’t change for ourselves:  SP does not underestimate herself!  SP negotiates for herself!  SP attributes her success to herself!  If I can make those three sentences true, I’ve won most of the battle.  (Definitely room from improvement here!.)

Make your partner a real partner

If a men and woman are married with full time jobs, the woman will do 2x the amount of housework and 3x the amount of childcare as the man. Equal earning and equal responsibility have half the divorce rate (and they have better sex lives too).

I think T and I do a good job of partnership in our home – we do not have specific tasks, but in the long run, it is roughly 50/50.  Or rather, as T joked when I told him these stats, it is 40/40 and 20% of the stuff just never gets done.  (There is probably a post coming about us hiring a housekeeper.  For real.)

Don’t Leave Before You Leave

Don’t start pulling away from your career because you know you want children.  Your job needs to be compelling, challenging, rewarding and worth going back to.  If you stop looking for new opportunities (often times years before you actually have kids), you’ll be bored with your career by the time you really need to make your decision.  Don’t make the choice in advance.

I thought this was fantastic advice.  I’ve been thinking a lot about what will happen when we have kids, and how it might make sense to defer a little bit to T’s upcoming career path, since I will be the one who bears the children.  But that’s silly.  I don’t want to be a stay-at-home mom and I have no plans of abandoning my career.  That means it is important for me to have a career I like first.  I can always change my mind later, but I can’t sell myself short up front.

This is inspiring good stuff!  Hope you enjoyed it!

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. September 1, 2011 5:39 am

    Check..check..check.. and check. I’m confident enough to hold my own.

    SWEET! 🙂 I expect BF to do half of everything because I also pay half of everything.

    I feel like it’s in relationships where the women doesn’t contribute 50% (for whatever reason), that they feel the need to do MORE to compensate.. (thinking of my mom here).

    • September 4, 2011 7:28 pm

      It is probably true, but still a stereotypically female perspective.

      My husband currently does not contribute 50% of the money (student), but he feels no need to “make up for it” by doing more housework. And why should he? He works as hard as I do, as many hours. But a lot of women wouldn’t feel that way. I’ll just remember that when he graduates and makes more than me!

  2. September 1, 2011 10:45 am

    Thanks for the inspriring post! I do think I’m worth it and am shooting for the stars to inspire more women out there. If we had more women leaders or even CEOs, more women would believe they can do it.

  3. September 1, 2011 9:00 pm

    I love this!

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