TEDWomen 2013 Top Ten Inspirations

1. “I’ve never met a man who has been asked how he does it all” – Sheryl Sandberg

Last, but certainly not least, we’re wrapping up our TEDWomen Top Ten Inspirations with Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook. Her book entitled “Lean in: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead,” encourages women to be more ambitious and confident in the workplace. It also explains how we can grow in our careers and balance our personal lives. In a nutshell, this is a manual for how to do it all.

What was most poignant about her book is how we stand in our own way when it comes to our careers.  We were touched that Sandberg wasn’t afraid to be vulnerable and share her own insecurities to enlighten us. She wrote: “I still face situations that I fear are beyond my capabilities. I still have days when I feel like a fraud. And I still sometimes find myself spoken over and discounted while men sitting next to me are not. But now I know how to take a deep breath and keep my hand up. I have learned to sit at the table.”

During her TED talk (which is a Q&A with co-host Pat Mitchell) she says, “the book is about self-confidence and equality. Everywhere in the world women need more self-confidence because the world tells us we’re not equal to men…I’ve never met a man who has been asked how he does it all.”

She says that the response to the book encourages her to continue to be open and honest about “not feeling as self-confident as I should in so many situations.” The book encouraged a global dialogue about women and the workplace. It also led to the creation of 12,000 “Circles,” which is a place for women to inspire and empower each other to be more confident. Women are learning to be more assertive, finding their voice, and standing up for themselves. We’re a little shocked when Sandberg says: “everywhere I go CEOs say to me: ‘you’re costing me so much money’ because women are asking for what they deserve.’  To them I say, I’m not sorry at all.”

Sadly, we’re still at the beginning stages of true equality. In fact, in 2012 women still earned only 77 cents for every dollar that men earned, and that statistic hasn’t changed since 2002!  The stereotypes that persist don’t help.  Women are still considered “bossy” when a man exhibiting similar behavior is “assertive” and “a leader.”  Sanberg leaves the TED audience with this: “We need to get rid of the word ‘bossy’ and bring back the word ‘feminist.’”

To learn more about Sandberg, connect with women striving for equality in the workplace, get some encouragement, or to start your own “circle,” click here.

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