TED | Sheryl Sandberg: Why We Have Too Few Women Leaders

Posted on January 2, 2011


Sheryl Sandberg: Why We Have Too Few Women Leaders

While we’ve made advances, there are still too few women in top positions of leadership. How are we going to fix this?

I’m convinced that women are dropping out. However, today, I want to focus on we, as individuals, the messages we need to tell ourselves and our daughters.


1. Women systematically underestimate their abilities. Women do not negotiate for themselves in the workforce. Men attribute their success to themselves, and women to external factors.

Why does this matter? No one gets to the corner office by sitting on the side rather than at the table.

2. So, own your own success. But it’s difficult because what the data shows consistently is that “success” and “likability” are positively correlated with men, and negatively correlated for women.

We have to believe that we have the “A.”


3. I’m convinced that we’ve made more progress in the workforce than we have in the home. If a woman and a man both work full-time, and have a child, the women does twice the amount of house-work and three times the amount of child-care than the man.

I think the cause is more complicated than simply football. We’ve put more pressure on our boys to succeed than the girls.

4. We have to make it as important a job to work inside the home for people of both genders if we’re going to even things out.

Households with equal earnings and equal responsibility have half the divorce rate and “know each other” more, in the Biblical sense.


1. From the moment she starts thinking about having a child, she begins to stop “raising her hand.” What happens when you start quietly leaning back?

2. Don’t “leave” before you leave. Stay in, and keep your foot on the gas pedal. And then make your decisions.

I believe if the leaders were half-women it would be a better world.

— VIA —

I have mixed feelings. The striving for woman’s place in leadership is a valiant goal, and one I fully support. But, does that mean changing and challenging women in light of our dysfunctional culture or should the critique be further upon the culture’s view?

Or, are those two really all that opposite of each other?

I’m concerned also that in this discussion of the tensions between work and family (child-rearing specifically), where is the priority and value of raising children going to be placed? Sandberg briefly mentions some cultural aspects of raising children in the home, but should not there be a value placed on the family’s home more than the woman’s career? In addition, if she is having to tell women to assert themselves further, it seems to imply that there is a reality, not just a cultural one, that resists this; and that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. There are other realities and complexities that can’t be summed up in a 18min. TED talk that affect a woman’s thinking, feelings, desires, emotions, etc.

The strongest point of this talk, for me, was making your partner a real partner; and not just for the “benefits.” If the genders hold very different perspectives and approaches to, well, everything, then equal attention to all things with that diverse set is, in my opinion, ideal for the human experience. I believe it can work wonders on our psyche, our culture, and our overall standards of living.

Posted in: Culture, TED