New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof devoted Sunday’s column entitled “She’s (Rarely) The Boss”to a discussion with Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg at the World Economic Forum in Davos. Ms. Sandberg is the author a new book called Lean In that is set to come out later this year that offers practical advice and insights on cultivating C-level diversity for executive women. She developed her thought-provoking ideas in a speech she gave at TED in December of 2010 – a talk I featured in an earlier post – and later in a 2011 commencement speech at Barnard College.
Some interesting statistics to compare to the 50% of the population that is female:
- 17 percent of American Fortune 500 board seats are held by women
- 3 percent of board chairs are women
- only 18 percent of women aspire to be top executives compared to 36% of the men, according to a McKinsey survey
- 7 percent of the women, but 57% of the women attempted to negotiate a higher initial salary offer, according to a study of Carnegie Mellon MBA Graduates.
Ms. Sandberg advises women not to lean back, but to lean in. She’s observed women internalize “messages that say it’s wrong to be outspoken, aggressive, more powerful than men. We lower our own expectations of what we can achieve. ” It is an empowering message for to women leaders to take note of our hesitations and to “lean in”.
Mr. Kristoff believes encouraging female executive assertiveness is a good thing, but it must be accompanied by structural changes to accommodate women and families. Kristof cites a growing body of evidence that increasing the number of women in the C-suite and on corporate boards of directors is simply good business.