Sitting at my desk, I looked around at all the men in their big offices and all the women in their little cubes. Why did we still have an office that ran this way? I worked a year and a half at an office that was run primarily by men; I was living an episode of Mad Men. Was this the men’s fault?
We could easily get mad and point fingers, but we only have ourselves to blame. Sheryl Sandberg stated in her Ted Talk “Why We Have Too Few Women Leaders” that the numbers show women are not making it to the top of any profession anywhere in the world. Why? Is it fear, low confidence, insecurities, or intimidation that holds us back? Do we even want to make it to the top? In the past, women fought hard to have the same opportunities as men. Now that we have them, do we know what to do with them? We definitely face different challenges that most men don’t experience, but there is nothing holding us back from making it to the top of our professions. As Chief Operating Officer of Facebook, Sandberg is living proof.
I worked at a restaurant where I was the only female bartender. Often I took the lead on things that needed to be done. For this, I was disliked by the other male bartenders. One day, one of them took me aside and told me that they all thought I overstepped my boundaries and should let one of them take the lead.
I felt defeated; if six other people thought I overstepped my boundaries, it must have been true.
I later realized that I wasn’t disliked because I took the lead; I was disliked because I took the opportunity away from one of the men.
Society pressures men to be leaders, and women to take a backseat. This pressure tells men that they need to be in a leadership role in order to be “real men”. As such, men often react poorly when a women fills that role. After hearing that comment, I decided to focus more about being liked by my peers, instead of advancing my career. After about a year, I noticed my career wasn’t going anywhere.
Not everyone will react well to women in the workforce. This social norm will not change overnight. As women, we shouldn’t let comments like this get in the way of our success.
While waiting in line at the supermarket, I saw on a magazine “How to Be Confident with Your Body”.
Girls are taught to feel confident about how we look, but what about being confident about our achievements?
While men have no problem expressing their success, women tend to underestimate themselves. Sandberg said, “Success and likeability are positively correlated for men and negatively for women.”
How are women supposed to make it to the top when they don’t believe they can? Society challenges women in the workplace. To be accepted as leaders, women need to take ownership of their achievements.