Where Are All the Women Leaders?

Sheryl Sandberg’s book “Lean In” has been on my reading list for about a year now.  With work, school and life in general, I hadn’t gotten to it.  I had read the TIME magazine article about Sheryl Sandberg titled “Don’t Hate Her Because She’s Successful“.  I was amused by Sandberg’s stories, motivated by her statistics and appreciated her belief that all women ultimately need to make their choice as to what is best for them, whether this choice includes a leadership path or not.

I took 15 minutes today to watch Sheryl Sandberg’s TED talk titled “Why We Have Too Few Women Leaders”.   Her TED talk focuses on the lack of women today in leadership positions and what we can do to change this. Women are faced with multiple difficult life decision, many of which teeter between their professional life and their personal life.  Many choose to drop out rather than continue the momentum necessary to reach leadership positions.

If  a women decides to stay in the workforce, Sandberg has three messages:

1) Sit at the table – This is a literal statement as well as a figurative statement.  Women often discount their contributions, abilities and knowledge as well as attribute their success to others.  Conversely, men often overestimate their abilities and attribute their succeeds to themselves.

Amazingly, it has been shown that success and likability are positively correlated in men, whereas negatively correlated in women.  A women, in most cases, has have a thick skin to make it to the top as she will, most likely, not be well liked.  A woman must work really hard to ignore the ever present fear of rejection as well as the fear of failure.

2) Make your partner a real partner – In order to reach your professional goals, the home responsibilities must be split equally rather than the imbalance that has existed for years.  Research shows that in a home where both parents work, the women does twice the amount of housework and three times the amount of childcare.  This often leads to resentment and dissatisfaction in the marriage.  In homes where couples have equal earnings and equal responsibilities, the divorce rate is cut in half.

3) Don’t leave before you leave – Keep your foot on the gas pedal rather than planning for the eventual change in your life.  Don’t avoid the promotion or shy away from added responsibilities.  Stay in the game until it is time to leave the workforce.

Clearly, each women must weigh the pro and cons with in her own life when making life decisions.  The motivation and guidance offered by Sandberg reassures us that we are not only capable but highly qualified to advance to leadership positions.  We can be successful and have a satisfying, well balanced home life.  

Sheryl Sandberg has become an advocate for women.  Her non profit organization, Lean In, provides support and inspiration for women to achieve their goals.   

Take just 15 minutes out of you day to watch her talk.  Leave me a comment as to your thoughts.



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