Sheryl Sandburg has written a recent article in the Wall Street Journal where she discusses the uncomfortable fact that when women ‘lean in’ as her book urges them to do for their careers, they get leaned on.
In fact one of the most striking quotes was, “Last year’s report concluded that we were 100 years away from gender equality in the C-suite.” She then goes on to give facts and figures supporting this, but a couple of things struck me.
First, there is good data that makes the case that having women in these corporations is really good for the bottom line. They actually do better financially. Why aren’t more women at the top? Great question. See answer below.
Because, when women ask for recognition and break through the stereotypes about women, they are nearly 2/3 more likely to be seen as ‘intimidating’. I loved the book title “Bossypants” by Tina Fey and that word fits this situation perfectly. It really brings up images…we’re bossy, bitchy, pushy, in other words, just too doggone aggressive. I even pulled the punch here by not using stronger language to make the point.
The Catch-22 is pretty obvious. We often don’t get raises unless we ask for them, and when we do, we are viewed through a much more negative lens than our male counterparts.
And yet I honestly think the overwhelming majority of both men and women in their minds think women can and should be encouraged to achieve. The problem is that once we (the women) start on that path, the negativity rises perceptibly.
Here is my suggestion. Imagine you have a niece, daughter, mother, whomever…a female you like a lot…and ask yourself how would you feel if she were treated harshly solely because she is female. It would probably make you step back and say, “that’s not fair.” No, it isn’t. So it’s up to all of us to change the tone, modify perceptions and perspective, and truly bring us into the 21st century. I’m starting right now working on my 15 month old granddaughter. And I plan to be standing right beside her kicking a few doors both down and in.