Wife, mother and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg has a new book out (which I have not read) that discusses why women's progress in achieving leadership roles has stalled. I know that 50% of college grads are women but only a minute number of top leadership roles are filled by women. Sheryl believes that women are backing away from challenges, risk and leadership positions when they should be leaning into the challenge. Women in the workplace are wrought with self doubt and are often giving themselves work life ultimatums. Sandberg argues (from the many comments I have read on the book) that women are lowering self achievement expectations. Two Professors wrote a case study referencing Howard/Heidi study about real life entrepreneur Heidi Roizen describing how she became a successful venture capitalist by relying on her outgoing personality and huge personal and professional network. The professors had a group of students read Roizen’s story with her real name attached and another group read the story with the name changed to “Howard.” The students were then asked to rate Howard and Heidi on their accomplishments and on how appealing they seemed as colleagues. The students rated them equally in terms of success. Yet they thought Howard was likeable while Heidi seemed selfish and not “the type of person you would want to hire or work for.” Sandberg concluded that when a man is successful, he is well liked. When a woman does well, people like her less.
Women may be less encouraged to be successful. The obstacles and opportunity costs may seem greater and they may lose personal motivation. So instead of climbing to the top, women are pushed or willing step to the waste side. Women who dare to keep climbing whatever professional ladder need fortitude, confidence and to own their own career and life choices.