"Sit at the table" - Sheryl Sandberg
“Believe in yourself” is the mantra. In this era, it is not sufficient to simply be talented or efficient; one needs to market herself in order to showcase her capabilities. And this is perhaps where men surpass women in the workforce. Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook, attributes this as one of the chief causes for very few women making it to the top league as business-leaders, in one of her TED talks. The arguments she dwells on and the examples she cites indeed bring forth a stark truth before us. Let’s delve a little deeper and have a closer look at it.
She says, “Don’t expect that you’ll get to the corner office by sitting on the sidelines.” In most cases than not, women suffer from low self-esteem and a poor evaluation of her own worth. And surprisingly, this includes women who are well-placed in companies and organizations. Somewhere, perhaps deep down in her heart, women undermine their own abilities, which in turn, discourages them from sharing an equal footing with men. Men, on the other hand, have a heightened self-image. Though Sandberg agrees that this can be tricky and complicated for the fairer sex, as, assertive women are often perceived to be “aggressive” ones; however, she maintains her stand that women will get nowhere if she doesn’t keep faith in her own caliber.
A study conducted on people entering the workforce after college showed that 57% of boys (or men) negotiate their first salary, while only 7% of women do so. This itself indicates that women are hesitant to take a stand or negotiate for themselves in the workplace. Also, it is generally observed that men attribute their success to their own potential and competence, while women attribute it to external factors, believing that luck favoured her, someone helped her, or she worked too hard to achieve it. And we all know that success and likeability are positively correlated for men and negatively correlated for women. A woman hardly has the feel that she has it in her to make it big or that she deserves a promotion or a pay hike or whatever incentive it might be. As long as she doesn’t judge herself to be possessing that extra “edge”, how can she expect others to show belief in her?? She needs to cultivate that confidence within and exude the panache, for others to sit up and take notice of her. She needs to hold her head high and own her own success.
This world will have more women leaders, not only running companies, but countries as well, only when women learn to hog the limelight, make her presence felt, and reach out to opportunities rather than backing out in self-doubt. She must know that she is not a side bench sitter and that she must be at the table too and make her presence felt.