On Leaning In: Pay Equity

By Anitra Cottledge

My first post in a couple of months and I’m thinking not strictly about tech, but about pay equity and salary negotiation. By now, I gather that most reading this have heard/seen the “Why We Have Too Few Women Leaders” TED talk by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg. But if you haven’t, here’s an opportunity to do so.

Her key messages for women in the workforce: “One, sit at the table. Two, make your partner a real partner. And three, don’t leave before you leave.”

I use this video a lot in trainings. I think it has a lot of uses; it can be a vehicle to talk about women’s leadership, women’s relationship to power and privilege, confidence, workplace climate issues, salary negotiation and by extension, pay equity. Sometimes, people love the video when I show it, and other times, people have plenty of critique. And sometimes, people have both reactions at the same time, which is wonderful for dialogue.

A few other things on my radar re: Sheryl Sandberg and pay equity:

  • She’s (Rarely) the Boss – NYT op-ed piece by Nicholas Kristof, which talks about (in part), Sandberg’s ideas about gender gaps in the boardroom. “We internalize the negative messages we get throughout our lives, the messages that say it’s wrong to be outspoken, aggressive, more powerful than men. We lower our own expectations of what we can achieve. We continue to do the majority of the housework and child care. We compromise our career goals to make room for partners and children who may not even exist yet.”
  • Lest you think that Sandberg doesn’t think that men also have a responsibility to create a gender-fair workplace: “I am hoping that each woman will set her own goals and reach for them with gusto,” Sandberg writes. “And I am hoping that each man will do his part to support women in the workplace and in the home, also with gusto.” However, this article written in response really emphasizes that responsibility that men have.
  • More on the pay-equity-and-economic-justice-as-systemic-issues front: “Trickle-Down Feminism” and an earlier piece called “Paycheck Feminism.”

Thoughts? What are some other resources that you’ve found online about pay equity and women in the workplace?

On Leaning In: Pay Equity

Highlight a Woman: Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook

Normally, the “highlight a woman” post features a female student affairs professional. For this week’s post, however, I decided to focus on Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg as she’s been in the news as the most visible woman at Facebook (and one who stands to become very wealthy thanks to their IPO). Additionally, as Marshall Fitzpatrick pointed out on ReadWriteWeb, Sandberg has been attracting attention for her views on women in the workplace:

She’s often said to be a prominent advocate of women in the workplace. Doug Barry points out on Jezebel, though, that Sandberg’s position is a very particular one: that women are fundamentally responsible for their own career development in corporate America and need to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps.

This is a view that has its critics and supporters. On the one hand, Sandberg is known as someone who works hard to recruit and retain women (something not all women who “make it” do). On the other hand, as Berry notes:

she is implying that the only impediment between the average working woman and the riches of corporate America is attitude and that most definitely is not true.

I also find Sandberg’s message to indeed be simultaneously positive and troubling. The TED talk below is a good example of this.

What do you think? Is Sandberg a role model for women in tech? Or is her message that “the problem is you” too far removed from other women’s concerns to be of use? Let us know what you think!

Highlight a Woman: Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook