An inspirational Ted Talk by Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, outlines the need for more women in leadership roles.
In the US, she states that within corporations, only 15% of women are in top C level board roles. Since 2002 these numbers have remained stable, without increase.
Another point discussed is the balancing act that women face when considering personal and career roles. It becomes increasingly difficult for women to have children when in an executive position. Therefore, statistically women have less children compared to men when in these types of roles.
How do we change these statistics?
By keeping women in the workforce and especially encouraging women in higher level positions, businesses can keep women from leaving these roles.
As moms, Sheryl says that women have two very difficult choices to make.
Those two choices include,
1) To be a stay-at-home with your children, or
2) To remain in the workforce and leave your children with a daycare.
She acknowledges the intense guilt that is felt by women everywhere when making the second choice.
For those women who want to stay in the workforce, Sheryl outlines three messages:
- Sit at the Table – “Women systematically underestimate their own abilities”. Statistically, 57% of men negotiate their first salary compared to 7% of women. Men take credit for their success, while women attribute their success to other factors (someone helped them). No one gets to the corner office by sitting on the sidelines. Sheryl encourages women to, “Believe in yourself, negotiate for yourself, own your own success,” to get the promotion you deserve.
- Make your partner a real partner – “Women in the workplace do twice the amount of housework and three times the amount of childcare than men.” Therefore, when someone needs to be home more, the wife drops out of the workforce because she has three jobs, whereas her husband only has one.Working in the home is hard for both genders; so Shery recommends evening things out in order for women to stay in the workforce. Studies show that equal earning and responsibility have half the divorce rate so this should be a good reason to stay in the workforce.
- Don’t leave before you leave – “When women start thinking about having children, they stop reaching out for opportunities in the workforce”. Sheryl believes that women start thinking about this a lot earlier; even before they are married or have a boyfriend. Once you have a child at home, it is extremely difficult to reenter the workforce unless your job is really challenging and rewarding. Women who have left the working world may become bored because they should have reached out for those opportunities. Her point here is, don’t make decisions too far in advance.
Sheryl is hopeful that in the future, businesses and countries are run equally by both men and women.
Watch the full Ted Talk here: Why we have too few women leaders.
Thanks to Melinda for this post.