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Annotated captions of Sheryl Sandberg: Why we have too few women leaders in English

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tedtalks 00:00
00:02

So for any of us in this room today,

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00:05

let's start out by admitting we're lucky.

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00:07

We don't live in the world

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our mothers lived in, our grandmothers lived in,

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00:12

where career choices for women were so limited.

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00:14

And if you're in this room today,

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00:16

most of us grew up in a world

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00:19

where we had basic civil rights,

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00:21

and amazingly, we still live in a world

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where some women don't have them.

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00:25

But all that aside, we still have a problem,

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00:27

and it's a real problem.

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00:29

And the problem is this:

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00:31

Women are not making it

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00:33

to the top of any profession

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anywhere in the world.

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00:37

The numbers tell the story quite clearly.

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00:39

190 heads of state --

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nine are women.

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00:43

Of all the people in parliament in the world,

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00:45

13 percent are women.

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00:47

In the corporate sector,

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women at the top,

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00:51

C-level jobs, board seats --

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00:54

tops out at 15, 16 percent.

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00:56

The numbers have not moved since 2002

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00:59

and are going in the wrong direction.

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01:01

And even in the non-profit world,

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01:03

a world we sometimes think of

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01:05

as being led by more women,

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01:07

women at the top: 20 percent.

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01:09

We also have another problem,

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01:12

which is that women face harder choices

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01:15

between professional success and personal fulfillment.

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01:17

A recent study in the U.S.

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01:20

showed that, of married senior managers,

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01:23

two-thirds of the married men had children

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and only one-third of the married women had children.

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01:28

A couple of years ago, I was in New York,

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and I was pitching a deal,

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and I was in one of those fancy New York private equity offices

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you can picture.

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01:37

And I'm in the meeting -- it's about a three-hour meeting --

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and two hours in, there kind of needs to be that bio break,

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and everyone stands up,

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01:44

and the partner running the meeting

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01:46

starts looking really embarrassed.

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01:48

And I realized he doesn't know

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01:50

where the women's room is in his office.

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01:52

So I start looking around for moving boxes,

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01:55

figuring they just moved in, but I don't see any.

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01:58

And so I said, "Did you just move into this office?"

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02:01

And he said, "No, we've been here about a year."

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02:04

And I said, "Are you telling me

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02:06

that I am the only woman

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02:09

to have pitched a deal in this office in a year?"

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02:11

And he looked at me, and he said,

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02:14

"Yeah. Or maybe you're the only one who had to go to the bathroom."

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02:16

(Laughter)

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02:18

So the question is,

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how are we going to fix this?

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02:24

How do we change these numbers at the top?

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02:27

How do we make this different?

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02:29

I want to start out by saying,

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02:31

I talk about this --

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02:33

about keeping women in the workforce --

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because I really think that's the answer.

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02:37

In the high-income part of our workforce,

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02:40

in the people who end up at the top --

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02:42

Fortune 500 CEO jobs,

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02:45

or the equivalent in other industries --

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02:47

the problem, I am convinced,

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02:49

is that women are dropping out.

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02:51

Now people talk about this a lot,

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02:53

and they talk about things like flextime and mentoring

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02:56

and programs companies should have to train women.

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02:58

I want to talk about none of that today,

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03:00

even though that's all really important.

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03:03

Today I want to focus on what we can do as individuals.

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03:06

What are the messages we need to tell ourselves?

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03:09

What are the messages we tell the women who work with and for us?

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03:11

What are the messages we tell our daughters?

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03:13

Now, at the outset, I want to be very clear

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03:16

that this speech comes with no judgments.

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03:18

I don't have the right answer.

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03:20

I don't even have it for myself.

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03:23

I left San Francisco, where I live, on Monday,

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03:25

and I was getting on the plane for this conference.

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03:28

And my daughter, who's three, when I dropped her off at preschool,

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03:30

did that whole hugging-the-leg,

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03:32

crying, "Mommy, don't get on the plane" thing.

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03:35

This is hard. I feel guilty sometimes.

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03:37

I know no women,

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03:39

whether they're at home or whether they're in the workforce,

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03:41

who don't feel that sometimes.

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03:44

So I'm not saying that staying in the workforce

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03:46

is the right thing for everyone.

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03:49

My talk today is about what the messages are

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03:51

if you do want to stay in the workforce,

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03:53

and I think there are three.

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03:56

One, sit at the table.

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03:59

Two, make your partner a real partner.

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04:03

And three, don't leave before you leave.

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04:05

Number one: sit at the table.

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04:07

Just a couple weeks ago at Facebook,

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04:10

we hosted a very senior government official,

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and he came in to meet with senior execs

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from around Silicon Valley.

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And everyone kind of sat at the table.

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04:20

And then he had these two women who were traveling with him

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who were pretty senior in his department,

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and I kind of said to them, "Sit at the table. Come on, sit at the table,"

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04:28

and they sat on the side of the room.

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04:30

When I was in college my senior year,

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04:33

I took a course called European Intellectual History.

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04:35

Don't you love that kind of thing from college?

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04:37

I wish I could do that now.

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04:39

And I took it with my roommate, Carrie,

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04:41

who was then a brilliant literary student --

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04:43

and went on to be a brilliant literary scholar --

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04:45

and my brother --

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04:47

smart guy, but a water-polo-playing pre-med,

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04:49

who was a sophomore.

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04:51

The three of us take this class together.

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04:53

And then Carrie reads all the books

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in the original Greek and Latin,

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04:57

goes to all the lectures.

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04:59

I read all the books in English

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05:01

and go to most of the lectures.

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05:03

My brother is kind of busy.

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05:05

He reads one book of 12

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05:07

and goes to a couple of lectures,

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05:09

marches himself up to our room

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a couple days before the exam to get himself tutored.

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05:15

The three of us go to the exam together, and we sit down.

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05:17

And we sit there for three hours --

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05:20

and our little blue notebooks -- yes, I'm that old.

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05:23

And we walk out, and we look at each other, and we say, "How did you do?"

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05:26

And Carrie says, "Boy, I feel like I didn't really draw out the main point

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05:28

on the Hegelian dialectic."

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05:31

And I say, "God, I really wish I had really connected

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05:34

John Locke's theory of property with the philosophers who follow."

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05:36

And my brother says,

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05:39

"I got the top grade in the class."

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05:42

"You got the top grade in the class?

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05:45

You don't know anything."

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05:47

The problem with these stories

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05:50

is that they show what the data shows:

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05:53

women systematically underestimate their own abilities.

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05:55

If you test men and women,

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05:58

and you ask them questions on totally objective criteria like GPAs,

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06:00

men get it wrong slightly high,

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06:03

and women get it wrong slightly low.

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06:06

Women do not negotiate for themselves in the workforce.

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06:08

A study in the last two years

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06:10

of people entering the workforce out of college

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06:13

showed that 57 percent of boys entering,

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06:15

or men, I guess,

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06:17

are negotiating their first salary,

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06:20

and only seven percent of women.

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06:22

And most importantly,

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06:25

men attribute their success to themselves,

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06:28

and women attribute it to other external factors.

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06:30

If you ask men why they did a good job,

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06:33

they'll say, "I'm awesome.

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06:36

Obviously. Why are you even asking?"

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06:38

If you ask women why they did a good job,

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06:40

what they'll say is someone helped them,

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06:42

they got lucky, they worked really hard.

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06:44

Why does this matter?

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06:46

Boy, it matters a lot

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06:49

because no one gets to the corner office

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06:51

by sitting on the side, not at the table,

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06:53

and no one gets the promotion

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if they don't think they deserve their success,

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06:59

or they don't even understand their own success.

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07:01

I wish the answer were easy.

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07:03

I wish I could just go tell all the young women I work for,

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07:05

all these fabulous women,

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07:07

"Believe in yourself and negotiate for yourself.

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07:09

Own your own success."

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07:12

I wish I could tell that to my daughter.

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07:14

But it's not that simple.

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07:17

Because what the data shows, above all else, is one thing,

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which is that success and likeability

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are positively correlated for men

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and negatively correlated for women.

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07:26

And everyone's nodding,

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07:28

because we all know this to be true.

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07:31

There's a really good study that shows this really well.

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07:33

There's a famous Harvard Business School study

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07:35

on a woman named Heidi Roizen.

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07:37

And she's an operator in a company

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in Silicon Valley,

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and she uses her contacts

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to become a very successful venture capitalist.

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07:46

In 2002 -- not so long ago --

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a professor who was then at Columbia University

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07:51

took that case and made it Howard Roizen.

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07:53

And he gave the case out, both of them,

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to two groups of students.

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07:57

He changed exactly one word:

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"Heidi" to "Howard."

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08:02

But that one word made a really big difference.

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08:04

He then surveyed the students,

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08:07

and the good news was the students, both men and women,

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08:09

thought Heidi and Howard were equally competent,

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08:11

and that's good.

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08:13

The bad news was that everyone liked Howard.

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08:15

He's a great guy. You want to work for him.

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08:17

You want to spend the day fishing with him.

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08:19

But Heidi? Not so sure.

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08:22

She's a little out for herself. She's a little political.

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08:25

You're not sure you'd want to work for her.

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08:27

This is the complication.

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08:29

We have to tell our daughters and our colleagues,

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08:31

we have to tell ourselves to believe we got the A,

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08:33

to reach for the promotion,

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08:35

to sit at the table,

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and we have to do it in a world

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08:40

where, for them, there are sacrifices they will make for that,

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08:43

even though for their brothers, there are not.

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08:47

The saddest thing about all of this is that it's really hard to remember this.

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08:50

And I'm about to tell a story which is truly embarrassing for me,

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08:52

but I think important.

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08:55

I gave this talk at Facebook not so long ago

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08:57

to about 100 employees,

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09:00

and a couple hours later, there was a young woman who works there

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09:02

sitting outside my little desk,

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09:04

and she wanted to talk to me.

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09:06

I said, okay, and she sat down, and we talked.

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09:08

And she said, "I learned something today.

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09:10

I learned that I need to keep my hand up."

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09:12

I said, "What do you mean?"

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09:14

She said, "Well, you're giving this talk,

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09:16

and you said you were going to take two more questions.

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09:19

And I had my hand up with lots of other people, and you took two more questions.

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09:22

And I put my hand down, and I noticed all the women put their hand down,

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09:24

and then you took more questions,

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09:26

only from the men."

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09:28

And I thought to myself,

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09:31

wow, if it's me -- who cares about this, obviously --

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09:33

giving this talk --

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09:36

and during this talk, I can't even notice

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09:39

that the men's hands are still raised,

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09:41

and the women's hands are still raised,

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09:43

how good are we

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09:45

as managers of our companies and our organizations

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09:47

at seeing that the men are reaching for opportunities

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09:49

more than women?

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09:52

We've got to get women to sit at the table.

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09:55

(Applause)

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09:57

Message number two:

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09:59

make your partner a real partner.

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10:02

I've become convinced that we've made more progress in the workforce

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10:04

than we have in the home.

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10:07

The data shows this very clearly.

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10:09

If a woman and a man work full-time

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10:11

and have a child,

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10:14

the woman does twice the amount of housework the man does,

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10:16

and the woman does three times

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10:19

the amount of childcare the man does.

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10:21

So she's got three jobs or two jobs,

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10:23

and he's got one.

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10:26

Who do you think drops out when someone needs to be home more?

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10:28

The causes of this are really complicated,

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10:30

and I don't have time to go into them.

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10:32

And I don't think Sunday football-watching

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10:34

and general laziness is the cause.

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10:36

I think the cause is more complicated.

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10:38

I think, as a society,

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10:40

we put more pressure on our boys to succeed

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10:42

than we do on our girls.

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10:44

I know men that stay home

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10:46

and work in the home to support wives with careers,

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10:48

and it's hard.

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10:50

When I go to the Mommy-and-Me stuff

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10:52

and I see the father there,

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10:54

I notice that the other mommies

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don't play with him.

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10:58

And that's a problem,

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11:01

because we have to make it as important a job,

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11:04

because it's the hardest job in the world to work inside the home,

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11:06

for people of both genders,

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11:09

if we're going to even things out and let women stay in the workforce.

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11:11

(Applause)

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11:13

Studies show that households with equal earning

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11:15

and equal responsibility

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11:17

also have half the divorce rate.

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11:20

And if that wasn't good enough motivation for everyone out there,

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11:22

they also have more --

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11:24

how shall I say this on this stage? --

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11:27

they know each other more in the biblical sense as well.

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11:29

(Cheers)

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11:31

Message number three:

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11:33

don't leave before you leave.

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11:35

I think there's a really deep irony

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11:37

to the fact that actions women are taking --

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11:39

and I see this all the time --

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11:42

with the objective of staying in the workforce

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11:44

actually lead to their eventually leaving.

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11:46

Here's what happens:

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11:48

We're all busy. Everyone's busy. A woman's busy.

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11:51

And she starts thinking about having a child,

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11:54

and from the moment she starts thinking about having a child,

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11:56

she starts thinking about making room for that child.

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11:59

"How am I going to fit this into everything else I'm doing?"

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12:02

And literally from that moment,

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12:05

she doesn't raise her hand anymore,

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12:08

she doesn't look for a promotion, she doesn't take on the new project,

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12:10

she doesn't say, "Me. I want to do that."

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12:12

She starts leaning back.

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12:14

The problem is that --

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12:17

let's say she got pregnant that day, that day --

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12:20

nine months of pregnancy, three months of maternity leave,

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12:22

six months to catch your breath --

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12:24

fast-forward two years,

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12:26

more often -- and as I've seen it --

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12:28

women start thinking about this way earlier --

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12:30

when they get engaged, when they get married,

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12:33

when they start thinking about trying to have a child, which can take a long time.

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12:35

One woman came to see me about this,

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12:37

and I kind of looked at her -- she looked a little young.

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12:40

And I said, "So are you and your husband thinking about having a baby?"

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12:43

And she said, "Oh no, I'm not married."

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12:45

She didn't even have a boyfriend.

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12:47

I said, "You're thinking about this

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12:49

just way too early."

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12:52

But the point is that what happens

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12:55

once you start kind of quietly leaning back?

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12:57

Everyone who's been through this --

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13:00

and I'm here to tell you, once you have a child at home,

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13:02

your job better be really good to go back,

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13:04

because it's hard to leave that kid at home --

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13:06

your job needs to be challenging.

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13:08

It needs to be rewarding.

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13:11

You need to feel like you're making a difference.

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13:14

And if two years ago you didn't take a promotion

tedtalks 13:14
13:16

and some guy next to you did,

tedtalks 13:16
13:18

if three years ago

tedtalks 13:18
13:20

you stopped looking for new opportunities,

tedtalks 13:20
13:22

you're going to be bored

tedtalks 13:22
13:25

because you should have kept your foot on the gas pedal.

tedtalks 13:25
13:27

Don't leave before you leave.

tedtalks 13:27
13:29

Stay in.

tedtalks 13:29
13:31

Keep your foot on the gas pedal,

tedtalks 13:31
13:33

until the very day you need to leave

tedtalks 13:33
13:35

to take a break for a child --

tedtalks 13:35
13:37

and then make your decisions.

tedtalks 13:37
13:40

Don't make decisions too far in advance,

tedtalks 13:40
13:43

particularly ones you're not even conscious you're making.

tedtalks 13:44
13:46

My generation really, sadly,

tedtalks 13:46
13:48

is not going to change the numbers at the top.

tedtalks 13:48
13:50

They're just not moving.

tedtalks 13:50
13:53

We are not going to get to where 50 percent of the population --

tedtalks 13:53
13:56

in my generation, there will not be 50 percent of [women]

tedtalks 13:56
13:58

at the top of any industry.

tedtalks 13:58
14:01

But I'm hopeful that future generations can.

tedtalks 14:02
14:04

I think a world that was run

tedtalks 14:04
14:06

where half of our countries and half of our companies

tedtalks 14:06
14:09

were run by women, would be a better world.

tedtalks 14:09
14:12

And it's not just because people would know where the women's bathrooms are,

tedtalks 14:12
14:15

even though that would be very helpful.

tedtalks 14:15
14:17

I think it would be a better world.

tedtalks 14:17
14:19

I have two children.

tedtalks 14:19
14:22

I have a five-year-old son and a two-year-old daughter.

tedtalks 14:22
14:24

I want my son to have a choice

tedtalks 14:24
14:27

to contribute fully in the workforce or at home,

tedtalks 14:27
14:29

and I want my daughter to have the choice

tedtalks 14:29
14:31

to not just succeed,

tedtalks 14:31
14:33

but to be liked for her accomplishments.

tedtalks 14:33
14:35

Thank you.

tedtalks 14:35
14:37

(Applause)