How Women Can Fix The Gender Gap

closing the gender gap Although the gender gap is more glaringly apparent in some industries and areas than others, the sad fact remains that, even in today’s day and age, women and men are far from equal, especially when it comes to factors like employment and pay. Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook, attributes this continued divide to several factors—including women who don’t aggressively pursue opportunities.

Sandberg explores this theory in her new book, Lean In, due out in March. In ways both big and small, Sandberg examines how women hold themselves back so that we can collectively recognize these factors—and change them.

“We internalize the negative messages we get throughout our lives, the messages that say it’s wrong to be outspoken, aggressive, more powerful than men,” she writes. “We lower our own expectations of what we can achieve. We continue to do the majority of the housework and childcare. We compromise our career goals to make room for partners and children who may not even exist yet.”

Nicholas D. Kristof of the New York Times recently met with Sandberg during the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, and shared his own experience with these sorts of self-defeating behaviors.

“I think that there is something real and important in what she says,” he writes. “When I lecture at universities, the first questions are invariably asked by a man—even at a women’s college. When I point at someone in a crowd to ask a question, the women in the area almost always look at each other hesitantly—and any man in the vicinity jumps up and asks his question.”

These are the sorts of behaviors we can change—and teach the other women in our lives to change, too. After all, aren’t we worthy of voicing our opinions? Of asking questions? Of being paid the same as our male counterparts and given the same professional opportunities? Absolutely! And if we can help influence change in ourselves and in the women around us, we just might be able to take what Nicholas recommends as a next step.

“So, yes, let’s encourage young women to ‘lean in,’ but let’s also change the workplace so that when they do lean in and assert themselves, we’re directly behind them shouting: ‘Right!’

We’re on board! And you can bet we’ll be first in line to read Sheryl’s book in March. We’re eager to learn more from her own experiences of juggling a demanding career and a family, something our own Brenda Chapman knows all too well.

What do you think it will take to erase the gender gap? Do you think Sheryl’s suggestions are a good starting point?

Image: mikecogh via Compfight cc

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