At the World Economic Conference in Davos, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg spoke on a panel about women in leadership. Did she speak about business strategies, quotas versus merit, politics, reproductive rights? No. Sandberg spoke about female ambition and how girls’ aspirations are blunted at an early age. She spoke about the ‘ambition gap.” She said that “we don’t raise our daughters to be as ambitious as our sons…Little girls are called ‘bossy’… Go find someone and watch them call a little boy bossy.” Sandberg talks about T shirts sold to kids that either read: “I’m smart like my dad” or “I’m pretty like my mom.”
The focus of Sandberg’s speech was the same topics I blog about every day on Reel Girl. Topics that many readers of my blog on SFGate repeatedly call trivial.
Sandberg says that a major obstacle to women’s achievement is that success and likeability are positively correlated for men but negatively correlated for women. I honestly believe this duality/ stereotype is fueled in the fantasy world where kids so rarely see heroines who are powerful and beautiful; smart and kind.
Sandberg says, “From early childhood through marriage we reward men for being leaders, taking risks, being competitive. We teach women as young as four to lay back, be communal. We need our boys to be as ambitious to contribute in the home and we need our girls to be as ambitious to achieve in the workforce.”