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Sheryl Sandberg: Women Are Leaning In—but They Face Pushback

Source | The Wall Street Journal : By SHERYL SANDBERG

A freelance film director recently described walking into a negotiation. She was ready: She had armed herself with stats and evidence and had practiced her pitch. But instead of diving into why she deserved the project—and the money that came along with it—she began with the following: “I just want to say up front that I’m going to negotiate, and the research shows that you’re going to like me less when I do.”

She could see the wheels turning in the minds of her colleagues. But she was right. When women ask for what they deserve, they often face social pushback—and are viewed as “bossy” or “aggressive” simply for asking. So she came up with a solution: Call out the bias before it could surface. It worked.


  • Answer selected questions from the Lean In/McKinsey survey at the end of this article, and compare your responses with the survey results.

The “too aggressive” penalty is just one of the findings from Women in the Workplace 2016, a study by LeanIn.Org and McKinsey & Co. being released today. Based on a survey of 132 companies employing more than 4.6 million people, the study is, to our knowledge, the most comprehensive annual review of women in corporate America.

Last year’s report concluded that we were 100 years away from gender equality in the C-suite. A year later, we’re not much closer—and that is not just bad for women, it’s bad for our companies and our economy. Women are still underrepresented at every corporate level and hold less than 30% of roles in senior management. And women hit the glass ceiling early: They are far less likely than men to be promoted from entry level to manager, and they continue to lose ground incrementally the more senior they become. This gap in female leadership is not due to attrition; in fact, women and men are leaving their companies at about the same rate.

As one might expect, these challenges are more pronounced for women of color: They make up the most underrepresented group in the corporate pipeline and experience the deepest drop-offs in middle and senior management—despite the fact that women of color are more likely than white women to say they want to be top executives.

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