TED Talk: Sheryl Sandberg: Why we have too few women leaders

Posted by Sarah on March 04, 2011 · 3 mins read

Do you like TED? I have been enjoying the TED app on the iPad lately, and I recently saw the TED talk given by Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s COO - Why we have too few women leaders.

This talk was really interesting, and I highly recommend watching it. In it, she gives three really great pieces of advice for fellow females:

  1. Sit at the table - women systematically underrate their own abilities. As a result, women don’t negotiate for themselves in the workplace. Women attribute success to external factors, men attribute success to themselves. No one gets to the corner office by sitting on the side not at the table and no one gets the promotion if they don’t think they deserve their success or they don’t know their own success. Unfortunately, success and likability are correlated positively for men and correlated negatively for women. How good are we as managers for seeing that men are reaching for opportunities more than the women?

  2. Make your partner a real partner - make your partnership an equal partnership. Be kind to the fathers at Mummy & Me classes. Make childrearing as important a job as any others, for both men and women. Societal pressures are just as hard for men who want to stay home to look after the kids, whilst their wives are at work, as it is for the wives to be leaders. We can’t solve the problems of the lack of female leaders if we neglect to also solve the problems of the lack of stay-at-home fathers

  3. Don’t leave before you leave - basically, don’t back away from opportunities because you don’t think you would be able to fit it in with a family life or maternity leave, which could happen sometime in the future, but is not in your reality right now. From the moment a women starts having a child, and she starts thinking of how to make room for that child in her already busy life. And from that moment, she doesn’t raise her hand any more, look for a promotion, start a new project. The problem is that even if she were to get pregnant that day, with 9 months incubation, a year maternity leave and a few months getting back into work, it is almost 2 years before she can think of raising her hand again. And the reality of the situation is that it is usually a few years before she even starts to have children - in a lot of cases, before she even has a partner. Sheryl’s words are inspiring - Keep your foot on the gas pedal until you actually leave.

Sheryl is very engaging in this talk, and I throughly recommend watching this video!