Three Things Every Working Women Should Do

Published Tuesday, October 04, 2011 9:45 PM

As anyone with a mother, sister or girlfriend can tell you: women give great advice. During my career, I've made it a point to listen to women I admire and to share advice with others seeking mentoring. Advice is like heirloom silver, handled regularly it shines, left to sit unused, it quickly grows dull.

In the interest of passing along advice worth thinking about, I want to call attention to recent remarks made by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg.

By any measure, Sandberg's career is stellar: an Ivy League education, senior roles at the Department of Treasury under financial powerhouse Larry Summers and at Google and now the COO job at tech-giant Facebook.

Despite her personal accomplishments, Sandberg said during a recent magazine interview that "women are not making it to the top."

"A hundred and ninety heads of state; nine are women," said Sandberg. "Of all the people in parliament in the world, thirteen per cent are women. In the corporate sector, women at the top-C-level jobs, board seats-tops out at fifteen, sixteen per cent."

Given that women are enrolling in graduate school at higher rates than men and that studies show girls and women now outperform their male counterparts at every level of schooling, the absence of women in equal measure to men at the top is confounding.  

While Sandberg doesn't examine the nitty gritty of why women aren't represented at the highest echelons of work, she does recommend that women take three steps to ameliorate the problem:

  • Sit at the table. Take your rightful place among the players, negotiate your salary and own your power. More than 50 percent of men negotiate salaries while less than 10 percent of women do so.
  • Make sure your partner is a real partner. Women wind up shouldering a majority of the child rearing duties and house chores, even when they work. A true 50-50 split is needed.
  • Don't leave before you leave. Women often stop gunning for promotions and projects when they contemplate having a family. Sandberg says women shouldn't "lean back" but should rather keep full steam ahead and not undermine their careers even before the take a break for family.

Sandberg concludes with the following counsel: "Don't worry so much about balance. Work hard, stick with what you like, and don't let go." 

Sound advice, no matter your gender.


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