Tuesday, June 07, 2011
'Dream Big' - Sheryl Sandberg (Facebook)
In this commencement speech by Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook given at Barnard College this year, she urges women to be more ambitious and to think bigger.
In a speech peppered with statistics and results of studies, she states that although much progress has been made by women professionally, "... we are nowhere close to 50% of the jobs at the top. That means that when the big decisions are made, the decisions that affect all of our worlds, we do not have an equal voice at that table.”
Other key things she mentions are:
- Men are more ambitious that women. Of course, she does not speak specifically of every woman, but in her opinion, men (whether by nature or nurture) think bigger and bolder than women. While this might mean big risks, it might also mean big rewards.
- Women need to believe in themselves more. If a man succeeds at something, he's more likely to attribute it to his natural excellence while a woman in a similar position might downplay her success or chalk it up to other factors like luck or assistance from others.
- Men make fewer compromises in their work-life balance. This is because women generally carry at least twice as much housework and three times as much child-rearing duties.
Although these certainly do not apply to all men and women out there, I do realise that women are expected to be more modest about their desires and achievements, which might make it harder to push for what we *really* want.
I just finished reading a wonderful book about many of the same issues called How Remarkable Women Lead by Joanna Barsh and Susie Cranston. This book deserves it's own blog post and even then, I would not be able to do it justice (you'd just have to read the book). However, work-life balance (among the myriad issues often peculiar to women in their journey up the career ladder) was discussed and many women believe this to be unattainable, because being effective both at home and at work require constant negotiation. To say that there is an equilibrium point at which full harmony is achieved is a fantasy. I am inclined to believe that. Although I do not have children or a husband yet, I know the immense effort it takes to ensure that giving my best to work does not deprive me of my personal time.
And because in most parts of the world - even in the most liberal - men are still typically considered to be the head of the household and women the primary homemakers, women will always find themselves with more to do.
That is why Sheryl presciently states that although it sounds counter-intuitive, "the most important career decision you’re going to make is whether or not you have a life partner and who that partner is. If you pick someone who’s willing to share the burdens and the joys of your personal life, you’re going to go further.”
Another thing that helps makes success and happiness come that much easier is marrying your work with something you care about and which contributes to society.