May 1, 2013

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“The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.” ~ Alice Walker

Until not too long ago, I ignored the women in business conversation because I simply didn’t understand why the problem existed. However, the topic kept coming up in interviews and at speaking engagements. Slowly, I’ve joined the conversation and shared my point of view from time to time.

After hearing about the amount of controversy Sheryl Sandberg’s new book, Lean In, received I decided to give it a spin. I’m halfway through. Sheryl is able to articulate some things I’ve been trying to put in words for quite awhile. She’s also able to provide a point of view and set of facts that I believe we all, men and women, need to be exposed to in order to close the large gap between the two genders in the workforce.

My purpose of this post is that it will hopefully serve as a catalyst for you to read or listen to the book, Lean In, so we can discuss when I finish reading the book. My takeaway thus far is that the discussion has to be started because the problem and solution isn’t as simple as I thought. As you can see from the photos above, it appears my copy of the book has wrestled with the highlighter graffiti monster. Thus far, here are just a few takeaways, stats and short excerpts from the book, Lean In:

  • Women only apply for open jobs if they think they meet 100% of the criteria listed. Men apply if they think they meet 60% of the requirements. Women need to shift from thinking, “I’m not ready to do that” to thinking “I want to do that – and I’ll learn by doing it.” (Hewlett Packard study)
  • Mark Zuckerberg to Sheryl Sandberg: “Your desire to be liked by everyone will hold you back. When you want to change things, you can’t please everyone. If you do please everyone, you aren’t making enough progress.”
  • 64% of men at the level of vice president and above are hesitant to have a one-on-one meeting with a more junior woman due to the difference in gender and possibility of the situation being misinterpreted. (Harvard Business Review)
  • It’s wonderful when senior men mentor women. It’s even better when they champion and sponsor them. Any male leader who is serious about moving toward a more equal world can make this a priority and be a part of the solution.
  • It is easy to dislike senior women because there are so few. If women held 50% of the top jobs, it would just not be possible to dislike that many people.
  • The upside of painful knowledge is so much greater than the downside of blissful ignorance.
  • Over the past decade, childcare costs have risen twice as fast as the median income of families with children.
  • “If current trends continue, fifteen years from today, about one-third of the women in this audience will be working full-time and almost all of you will be working for the guy you are sitting next to.” Sheryl Sandberg quoted in a speech delivered to Harvard Business School in 2011
  • A truly equal world would be one where women ran half our countries and companies and men ran half our homes.

Please read Sheryl’s book. This issue transcends all of us. Conversation to be continued . . .



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