Posted by: kylepanas11 | February 15, 2013

Why We Have Too Few Women Leaders

“Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg looks at why a smaller percentage of women than men reach the top of their professions — and offers 3 powerful pieces of advice to women aiming for the C-suite.”

With all of the conversation surrounding the discrepancies in the workplace and the home, I have been constantly thinking to myself, “Okay that’s good to know, and obviously we need to do something about it, but what is the answer? What can be physically and tangibly DONE to get more women into places of leadership?”

This is a great video, and it’s absolutely worth the fifteen minutes if you have the time. But if not, the points that Sheryl Sandburg is making rehash some of the things we’ve discussed in class, while bringing up some new ones as well. Her talk focuses on three things that she says women can actually work on to make equality a more visible thing in the workplace and the home.

First, “keep your hand raised.” She mentions that there is more pressure put on our young men to succeed than there is on our young women, so women tend to sit back and allow others to grab opportunities. She urges women to keep their hands raised, asking questions, and taking advantage of opportunities. Never stop reaching for the goal.

Second, “make your partner a partner.” This point revolves around life at home, and in making sure your significant other is an equal partner in the home. Sandburg urges women to not settle for a partner that will not hold you as an equal in a relationship and in the home, and not expect typical gender roles of you that they would not be willing to do themselves.

Third, “don’t leave before you leave.” Many women, when considering having a child or in the beginning stages of planning for a family, will “check out” before they’ve actually left the workplace. They will stop reaching for promotion and opportunity because they think “well, I’ll just be gone in a year or so.” Sandburg asks that you “keep your foot on the gas until the day you leave.”

What do you think of these points? Are these things that can actually help even the representation of women in leadership positions? What might she have also said in addition to these three points?


  1. I agree with the first point Sheryl Sandberg made, keeping your hand raised. This is so important, especially in a world of fast-paced, aggressive competition. The real world does not wait for those that scuffle their feet and are meek. To make a difference and climb the ladder of success, speaking out and making yourself known is imperative. Men, naturally, want to express their hormones and take the room by force, utilizing their masculine will. Women, in that same room, need to do the same, forcing that man to stand down and listen to what she has to say. If you want something, you need to make it known that you want it. Or else you are just another voiceless shrub among a massive field of shrubs.

  2. Although I agree with Sheryl’s statement about not leaving before you leave, I also think that there are some drawbacks to staying until the last minute. For example, if you know your plans may require you to step down or step back is it fair to the organization that you work for to take a promotion if in a few months you have to leave? Also, how will your coworkers, colleagues, followers, and superiors respond to this? Will a colleague be upset if you take a promotion that they could have received only to step down a few months later? What will your followers learn from this – that it’s ok to make commitments that you may not be able to keep in the long term? I’m not saying that her point is wrong because I think that what she is saying is so important because there are people that “check out” when they do not need to. However, as a part of any organization, we have to think about how our actions affect that organizations and its ability to accomplish its goals. Maybe you would be perfect for some higher position, but if by taking that promotion you stop furthering the organization’s efforts because you cannot stay in that position long enough to promote said change, then you aren’t really helping the organization at all. Maybe that would be a good opportunity to develop followers by pushing them into those positions and giving them the opportunity to succeed. I’m not trying to say that we should limit ourselves or put out others, but I think it’s important to consider the long-term effects of our actions on an organization.

  3. I think all three of these things are vital to making a mentality change among women and allow them to progress in society. Keeping the hand raised is key because it teaches women at a very young age that what they have to say is important. Teaching this will help women gain the confidence to keep voicing their opinions as they grow older, and as the come across more important decisions.
    Taking a partner as partner. This is a subtle teaching and re-teaching the roles of marriage. Compared to the roles two generations ago, women were meant to stay home and men rarely encouraged women to leave the house. Teaching women to have a husband who supports her instead of keeps her down will allow women to be confident and pursue careers outside of the home.
    Pursuit. Keep pursuing what you want. With the confidence to speak up, and the support from your partner the basis for leadership is there. With the encouragement from your self and at home will make the decisions easier to continue pursuing leadership in the workplace.

  4. I really loved her lecture it was very insightful. The main thing that caught my attention the most was the “don’t leave before you leave” concept. Many women do “check out” of work before they even are pregnant or marrried. They start thinking about a husband or family before they may even have a boyfriend. Women should stay in the workforce if they want that career until they are actually having a child or getting married, not just in love with the idea and jumping the gun about it.

  5. When I first watched this clip, it really spoke to me. I then went back and watched it again and remembered to write a few things down. One of the things she said that meant the most to me was “don’t leave before you leave”. What she said about a lot of women planning their life out and already starting to count themselves out of the race is totally something that I have caught myself doing in the past. It challenged me to not think to far ahead and plan everything out which may cause me to miss opportunities that could be really important and life changing for me.

  6. I’m with Taryn and Sara Maria – the biggest thing I took from her talk was “don’t leave before you leave”. While this is obviously explicitly related to women in leadership, it can also be translated into every aspect of life. I know that, personally, I get my head stuck in the clouds and spend so much time and energy thinking about the future that I begin to subconsciously start planning for it! Life is happening right in front of us. We’re going to make it to that point eventually, but our ultimate destination is going to be so much richer if we take the time to enjoy the road that takes us there.

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