I hope that you’ve heard about this “controversy” that was started by Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook and a Director at Disney, who wrote the book, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead. The basic premise of the book is that women are to blame for their lack of career advancement. According to Sheryl, women are their own worst enemies when it comes to their careers because we don’t “lean forward.” I liken that to saying that we are not assertive.
Watch the video below and come back for a discussion.
There are a number of factors contributing to this, but some of it does involve perceptions of management, familial responsibilities and women’s sense of self worth. I have seen women doing the very same jobs as their male counterparts with just as much experience being paid thousands of dollars less. I’ve tried coaching one particular woman who I admired and respected into not just accepting whatever raise was given to her, but instead making the case for why she deserved a higher raise. Her response was that she needed the job and didn’t want to upset her boss. I wanted to bang my head on the wall because she was leaving tens of thousands of dollars on the table, but I also understood her fear.
On the other hand, I have seen women who have demanded what they deserved. The problem is that these ladies sometimes developed the reputation of being “difficult” or even “bitchy”. Those aren’t my words, they were the words of their colleagues.
So, how do we strike a balance? In some respects Sheryl is right: we do have to put ourselves forward to advance within our careers. On the other hand, it is a very easy thing to say when you are a Harvard educated billionaire with access to resources that many other women do not have.
Ladies, how do you feel about Sheryl’s assertions?