Sheryl Sandberg: Why we have too few women leaders (2)
The saddest thing about all of this is that it's really hard to remember this. And I'm about to tell a story which is truly embarrassing for me, but I think important. I gave this talk at Facebook not so long ago to about 100 employees, and a couple hours later, there was a young woman who works there sitting outside my little desk, and she wanted to talk to me. I said, okay, and she sat down, and we talked. And she said, "I learned something today. I learned that I need to keep my hand up." "What do you mean?" She said, "You're giving this talk, and you said you would take two more questions. I had my hand up with many other people, and you took two more questions. I put my hand down, and I noticed all the women did the same, and then you took more questions, only from the men." And I thought to myself, "Wow, if it's me -- who cares about this, obviously -- giving this talk -- and during this talk, I can't even notice that the men's hands are still raised, and the women's hands are still raised, how good are we as managers of our companies and our organizations at seeing that the men are reaching for opportunities more than women?" We've got to get women to sit at the table. (Cheers)
Message number two: Make your partner a real partner. I've become convinced that we've made more progress in the workforce than we have in the home. The data shows this very clearly. If a woman and a man work full-time and have a child, the woman does twice the amount of housework the man does, and the woman does three times the amount of childcare the man does. So she's got three jobs or two jobs, and he's got one. Who do you think drops out when someone needs to be home more? The causes of this are really complicated, and I don't have time to go into them. And I don't think Sunday football-watching and general laziness is the cause. I think the cause is more complicated. I think, as a society, we put more pressure on our boys to succeed than we do on our girls. I know men that stay home and work in the home to support wives with careers, and it's hard. When I go to the Mommy-and-Me stuff and I see the father there, I notice that the other mommies don't play with him. And that's a problem, because we have to make it as important a job, because it's the hardest job in the world to work inside the home, for people of both genders, if we're going to even things out and let women stay in the workforce. (Applause)
Studies show that households with equal earning and equal responsibility also have half the divorce rate. And if that wasn't good enough motivation for everyone out there, they also have more -- how shall I say this on this stage? They know each other more in the biblical sense as well.
Message number three: Don't leave before you leave. I think there's a really deep irony to the fact that actions women are taking -- and I see this all the time -- with the objective of staying in the workforce actually lead to their eventually leaving. Here's what happens: We're all busy. Everyone's busy. A woman's busy. And she starts thinking about having a child, and from the moment she starts thinking about having a child, she starts thinking about making room for that child. "How am I going to fit this into everything else I'm doing?" And literally from that moment, she doesn't raise her hand anymore, she doesn't look for a promotion, she doesn't take on the new project, she doesn't say, "Me. I want to do that." She starts leaning back. The problem is that -- let's say she got pregnant that day, that day -- nine months of pregnancy, three months of maternity leave, six months to catch your breath -- Fast-forward two years, more often -- and as I've seen it -- women start thinking about this way earlier -- when they get engaged, or married, when they start thinking about having a child, which can take a long time. One woman came to see me about this. She looked a little young. And I said, "So are you and your husband thinking about having a baby?" And she said, "Oh no, I'm not married." She didn't even have a boyfriend. (Laughter)
I said, "You're thinking about this just way too early." But the point is that what happens once you start kind of quietly leaning back? Everyone who's been through this -- and I'm here to tell you, once you have a child at home, your job better be really good to go back, because it's hard to leave that kid at home. Your job needs to be challenging. It needs to be rewarding. You need to feel like you're making a difference. And if two years ago you didn't take a promotion and some guy next to you did, if three years ago you stopped looking for new opportunities, you're going to be bored because you should have kept your foot on the gas pedal. Don't leave before you leave. Stay in. Keep your foot on the gas pedal, until the very day you need to leave to take a break for a child -- and then make your decisions. Don't make decisions too far in advance, particularly ones you're not even conscious you're making. My generation really, sadly, is not going to change the numbers at the top. They're just not moving. We are not going to get to where 50 percent of the population -- in my generation, there will not be 50 percent of [women] at the top of any industry. But I'm hopeful that future generations can. I think a world where half of our countries and our companies were run by women, would be a better world. It's not just because people would know where the women's bathrooms are, even though that would be very helpful. I think it would be a better world. I have two children. I have a five-year-old son and a two-year-old daughter. I want my son to have a choice to contribute fully in the workforce or at home, and I want my daughter to have the choice to not just succeed, but to be liked for her accomplishments.