four women working together in a meeting

According to the Women in the Workplace study conducted jointly by LeanIn.Org and McKinsey & Co., “women are still underrepresented at every level in the corporate pipeline.”

The reasons are complex and the obstacles many, not least of which are company practices and culture. But as women, it’s vital that we are also aware of our own self-sabotage which no doubt stems from the way we, as girls, are conditioned.

In her monumental book, Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg shares a true story that happened in a meeting that was held at Facebook to discuss the economy. The Treasury Secretary of the US arrived with with four staff members – two senior and two junior, all women. After grabbing plates and food, they settled not at the table where the discussion was being held, but on chairs that were positioned at the side of the room. Though Sandberg motioned them to join those seated at the table, and though the four women “had every right to be at this meeting”, their seating choice turned them into spectators, rather than active participants. It’s this type of self-sabotage that we must fight against, however hard it may be for us to “sit at the table.”

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