Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead is a book written by Sheryl Sandberg detailing the causes for why women are still not achieving leadership positions in their work, as well as practical solutions for empowering women to reach their full potential.
Sheryl Sandberg is the Chief Operating Officer of Facebook, and is ranked on Fortune’s 50 Most Powerful Women in Business list and as one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People in the World.
Sandberg led a TED Talk in 2010 discussing the similar topic of why there are too few women leaders in the world. Watch it here:
As Sandberg puts it, despite advances in women’s rights over the years, we still have a problem: “Women are not making it to the top of any profession anywhere in the world.”
In the corporate sector, women with top board-level jobs maxes out at 15-16%. That figure has been stuck since 2002. Even in the non-profit world, women only comprise 20% of leaders.
Another problem Sandberg points out is that women face more difficult choices between professional success and personal fulfillment. According to a recent study of senior managers in the U.S., 2/3 of married male senior managers had children, while only 1/3 of married female senior managers had children.
How do we change these numbers? Sandberg argues keeping women in the workforce is the answer. While she supports the role of mothers and women who want to stay home with their children, she focuses her attention in the TED Talk toward women who want to stay – and succeed – in the workforce.
Here are her three messages:
1. Sit at the Table
According to Sandberg, “No one gets to the corner office by sitting on the side and not at the table.”
Compared to their male counterparts, women consistently underestimate their abilities. For example, one study showed that 57% of men entering the workforce out of college were negotiating their first salary, while only 7% of women did.
Moreover, men attribute their success to themselves, while women attribute their success to external factors like someone else’s help, hard work, or just “getting lucky”.
Believe in yourself, negotiate for yourself, own your own success. It’s not that simple, b/c the data shows that Success and likeability are positively correlated for men and negatively correlated for women.
2. Make Your Partner a Real Partner
Sandberg believes we’ve actually made more progress in the workforce than we have in the home. Even working women still perform the majority of housework and childcare. So who is most likely to drop out of the workforce when someone needs to stay home? The woman.
Also, stay at home dads are not as well received by our culture. Sandberg argues we have to make child rearing as important a job for both genders in order to even things out in the workplace.
The benefits of truly sharing the load? A lower divorce rate and more sex!
3. Don’t Leave Before You Leave
Women who want to have a child start planning for that (often way too early) and once they do, they begin leaning back. They don’t take promotions because it means more responsibility. They don’t participate or assert themselves as much. What happens when you want to come back to work? You may have lost position, opportunities, and credibility.
Sandberg advises that women keep their foot on the gas pedal until the very day they leave to take care of their children. While you’re in it, stay in the game 100%.