It used to be that a woman in corporate America was an exception to the rule, however over time things have changed so that women are a large part of the corporate world. While this statement is true it is also worth noting that there is still a largely male population at the top of the corporate ladder. That being the case, many women are looking for a female lead and role model to help pave the way for more women breaking into executive positions and the desired “corner window offices”. Like any movement in history it is key to have the forerunners who really inspire and instill hope and motivation in their followers. It is key that people have someone to look at to show that what they are doing is possible.
What does all of this have to do with Sheryl Sandberg? As COO of Facebook and “soon to be one of the richest self made women in the world” she has set an example for all women in the workplace. At the age of 42 Sheryl takes front stage, being worth not millions but billions. Not only has her career stood as an inspiration to women trying to push their way up the ranks but Sandberg has taken a proactive approach in urging women to “take responsibility for their careers and stop blaming men for holding them back”. Sheryl takes her position on women empowerment seriously, and actively participates in events that promote such topics. She was recently a panelist for “Women as the Way Forward” at the World Economic Forum.
Sheryl takes an interesting view on why women don’t progress in the work place. Sheryl describes the main issue as being what she defines as the “ambition gap”. This gap exists, according to Sandberg, for a multitude of reasons:
- Women are discouraged from being overly ambitious at an early age.
- Even if women are ambitious they usually take care of the household duties when they get off work so they are fighting a skewed battle in the work force.
- Women who are ambitious in the work place tend to be powerful and successful. These two traits in women in the workplace are not always the “most liked” set of characteristics so the women are often on the outs to start off with.
Some people find the success of Sheryl Sandberg at Facebook and her take on empowering women in the workplace to be a huge motivational factor. Many go as far as to call her their role model. Others feel that Sheryl Sandberg’s circumstances are simply a well played combination of intelligence, good fortune, and perfect timing. Regardless of your take on Sheryl Sandberg’s success, it is hard to deny that when she says “women need to pick themselves up by their bootstraps” that she doesn’t know a little bit about what she is talking about. When it comes to empowering women we could use more like her to look to as example.