A platform for voices supporting women's rights
Ms. Sandberg gives a starling commentary on the reality of women at the top of the corporate ladder. Although she points out that women are increasingly benefiting from gradual changes in attitudes and civil rights movements, Ms. Sandberg reiterates that women are not reaching the top of any profession, anywhere in the world. Of 190 heads of state, just 9 are females, in all C-Level jobs and board seats, women constitute 15-16%. Even in the not-for-profit sector, where women typically hold a variety of positions, only 20% of the top-level jobs are held by women. But instead of focusing on flexi-time, work-life balances and quotas for females in the workplace, Ms. Sandberg explains what women can do to help themselves and the advice we should be sharing with our colleagues, friends and daughters.
Golden rule number one is “sit at the table”. Typically women have a tendancy to undersell themselves or lack confidence in their own ability in comparison to their male counterparts, especially when it comes to negotiation and creation of opportunities for themselves. This is reflected in a number of studies, it was recently found that 57% of male college graduates in the US negotiated their first salary when entering the workforce, this dropped to only 7% for female graduates. More importantly, men tend to attribute their success to themselves and their own ability, whilst women tend to highlight the graces of good schooling, working hard and opportunity. Ms. Sandberg says that women need to sit at the negotiation table, consider themselves successful so that others will view them in the same way and negotiate the best packages to reflect their own self-worth.
The second golden rule is “make your partner are real partner”. By creating a more even distribution of domestic responsibilities, women will have greater opportunity to commit themselves to the workforce. This doesn’t just mean encouraging men to do more things in the home and conducting more parental duties, but also women involving fathers in play dates, school committees and other communities around the rearing of children that tend to be dominated by mothers. Only by providing a space for fathers in the domestic sphere and in raising a family and encouraging them to actively share responsibility, can we hope for mothers to have equal opportunities to fathers in the workplace.
The third and final golden rule Ms. Sandberg highlights is “don’t leave before you leave”. For women in the workforce who follow typical rites of passage such as marriage and buying a first home, these thing tend to lead to considerations of starting a family. In Ms. Sandberg’s experience, women allow the consideration of planning a family to slow their progress in the workplace, even if they have not yet conceived a child, been married or even have a partner. She believes that at the point a woman begins to consider the prospect of having a baby, she tends to not have her hand in the air, to not take on extra responsibility and not step forward, meaning that promotional opportunities tend to pass them by. Ms. Sandberg advises women to not mentally check out before actually walking out of the office on maternity leave. Instead she advises keeping a foot on the gas and becoming as engaged as possible until the point at which women have decided to take a break.
Whilst Ms. Sandberg certainly does not claim to have all of the answers for the success of female in the workplace, her lecture is surely an inspiration to women that we do have control over our own success and to own our achievements and leverage them for great responsibility, salary and authority.
For the full lecture: