Heidi & Howard
Facebook's COO incited a new conversation on feminism in the workplace with her March 2013 book, "Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead." The manifesto sold nearly 150,000 copies in its first week and has held the top non-fiction spot on bestseller lists since.
The book is a genuine mix of recent US gender studies and Sandberg's personal experience working herself through start-up America. She embarks us in a well-constructed and refreshing way: we can make a change just now; we only need to decide to do it!
Within the Think Tank, we will get back to Sandberg's insights particularly concerning salary negotiation. However and to accompany the arrival of the French edition, we have chosen 4 ideas to share with you.
Entrepreneur Club Sets Goal
The Heidi / Howard syndrome or the difficult choice between success and likeability
In 2003, Harvard Business School ran an experiment to test perceptions of men and women in the workplace. They chose the case study of Heidi Roizen, a real-life entrepreneur. The case described how Heidi was successful thanks to her outgoing personality and networking abilities. The same story was read by 2 groups of students with one difference: one group was working on Heidi, for the other, her name was changed to Howard. When asked for their thoughts, both groups found Heidi and Howard equally competent, which made sense, their accomplishments were identical. Nevertheless Howard came across as the more appealing colleague, whilst Heidi was seen as "selfish" and "not the person you would like to work for". The same data with a single difference - gender - created very different impressions.
Success and likeability, concludes Sandberg, are positively correlated for men and negatively for women. When a woman is successful, people of both genders like her less. This is both shocking and unsurprising. Shocking because we never admit to stereotyping on the basis of gender and unsurprising because clearly we do.
Sandberg believes this bias is at the very core of why women are held back. It is also at the very core of why women hold themselves back. We have all seen this dynamic at play: "she might be competent", but "she's not liked by her peers", she's probably "not a team player", "a bit political", "difficult"... Haven't you heard such things about yourself?! It's the downside of achievement. If a woman is focusing on achieving results, she's not concentrated on pleasing others. She's acting like a man and disliked. In reaction women temper their goals, by self-doubt for example, becoming a form of self-defence. To protect ourselves from being disliked we question our abilities and downplay our achievements.
Conclusion: if a woman is competent, she doesn't seem nice enough. If a woman is really nice, she's considered more nice than competent.
What can we do? Sandberg refers to a group of female leaders at Merrill Lynch who had lunch together once per month to exchange on their activities. Back at work, they would all talk about the successes of their colleagues, as they could not be doing this advocating for themselves.

Entrepreneur Club Sets Goal
"How does she do it?" trap
Any woman moving up the career ladder is one day confronted to this question; no man has ever to justify himself. For him, potential recruiters, mentors…it is obvious that he can strive in his career and have a fulfilling personal life. Women with true partners who share 50% of housework and childcare make this accomplishment possible. As further studies have proven, these 50-50 couples are healthier, have happier children, and even enjoy more sex! Continuously asking women this question is just putting them / us under more pressure: the fact that she's successful is suspicious. We are constantly loadinganxiety on our shoulders, but also on other women. Relax! Date all men you desire, but when choosing your partner, get a man who will share household activities; let him do his share - and more!

What's your limit?
What's striking in today's organisations is that employees mainly leave because of the workload, tiring travel and working long hours, sometimes leading to depression and / or burnout. Surprisingly these professionals mostly have unused vacation time. Until the day they leave, they do everything the corporation asks them, until it's too late. We need to take more control over our careers. Companies will never stop for asking more from their employees, so it is our responsibility to draw the line and decide what we are willing to do or not. Keep in mind: long-term success at work doesn't depend on trying to meet every demand placed on us. It's up to us to make our own limits and stick to them.

Dealing with criticism
Early in our careers we experience that speaking our minds is a tricky thing. Sure, "Feedback is a gift", but how to do so without offending someone? Sandberg refers to her friend A. Huffington, founder of the Huffington Post. She says that it is not realistic, or even desirable to not care when attacked. In the contrary, we should act emotionally and feel whatever anger or sadness we feel. But then we need to quickly move on. Here childrenare our role models: "A child can cry one moment and run off to play the next." Does this ring a bell?

In conclusion
Sandberg is not condemning women to constantly "Lean in" but inviting men and women to chose between wider options. Her goal is a world where social norms no longer exist, where women and men chose their way not according to gender, but to personal passion, talents and interest. When women will occupy 50% of leadership positions and 50% of homes are taken care of by men, there will be less pressure on all of our choices.

The book opened some controversy in the media. I would be delighted to share with you, get your reactions, personal experiences, pros and cons. Let's meet in the new forum...
Ulrike Lehmann, EuropeanPWN Paris Think Tank team,
project leader "Women and Money"
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