Why We Have Too Few Women Leaders

I recently listened to this TED Talk from Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg entitled “Whey We Have Too Few Women Leaders”.   (Thanks to Brewster for sending this my way.)

Sandberg challenges women with three key points:

  1. Sit at the table
  2. Make your partner a real partner
  3. Don’t leave before you leave

And she made a few statements that I’m still mulling over:

Women systematically underestimate their own abilities.

Success and likability are positively correlated for men and negatively correlated for women.

What implications do you think Sandberg’s challenges have for women in ministry leadership?

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  • Bianca December 27, 2010  

    Great link, Jenni! Tough questions, but I really want to dive into this discussion. Possible stuff for Catalyst, right? Can’t wait!

  • Lexi MacKinnon December 27, 2010  

    What an AWESOME clip! It brings up lots of questions to ponder… thanks for sharing!

  • patricia December 27, 2010  

    good stuff.

  • Dee Wilcox December 27, 2010  

    That TED Talk rocked my world… Still mulling it over. Thank you for sharing, Jenni!

  • Janet Oberholtzer December 27, 2010  

    First time I heard Sheryl Sandberg … she’s excellent and I love her 3 key points.
    Over the last few years, I’ve been observing men and women (that have influence or that don’t) and I’ve noticed a few things myself and/or other women repeatedly do … the main ones being not valuing ourselves high enough and underestimating our own abilities.

    I’ve noticed other interesting things and one I was thinking about recently was:
    Many successful men make their own rules when it comes to dress — they don’t wear the uncomfortable suit/tie look that was ‘necessary’ in the past, such as … Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, many of the TED speakers, etc.
    I wonder if the reason some women aren’t taken seriously is because they don’t take themselves seriously and/or value themselves enough to wear comfortable shoes … instead they wear high, high heels which no one can honestly call comfortable.

    Now watching this, I can see it doesn’t hold true for Sheryl Sandberg, but I still wonder if there’s some validity to it (or maybe it’s just that I don’t like heels)
    But could that be a subtle message to others that we are more concerned with how we look than how we feel and/or what we have to contribute, say or do? Just some rambling thoughts of mine.

    • Jenni Catron December 27, 2010  

      Janet, great thoughts. I think not valuing ourselves high enough is a huge challenge and I think it manifests itself in a lot of things that we do to make ourselves look put together – that could include heels. There are so many layers to this discussion.

  • Nicole December 29, 2010  

    very interesting discussion. In some ways, it’s difficult to lay our faith over this talk. The first point is about bringing attention to yourself, yet Christ taught humility. I would love to “sit at the table” with some senior (male) pastors and talk about how to balance grabbing opportunity with humility and trusting God’s work. Because I, for one, am confused by that, and I’m sure they would all have some thoughts! I wish I could be in CA with you when you talk about it….

    • Jenni Catron December 30, 2010  

      Nicole, I agree. There is always a tension in applying business principles to ministry leadership. What I took away from her first point is that we as women sometimes have a tendency to sit back even if we are in the room and essentially “invited to the table”. One of the things that I think we have to embrace is that if God has given us a voice and put us in a role of responsibility of leadership, we can’t shrink back from it. Sometimes I think it’s false humility or insecurity rather than true humility. I see so many women (including myself) who underestimate ourselves and more importantly God’s work through us and we don’t step confidently into the influence He’s given us.

      • Nicole Unice December 30, 2010  

        good points, Jenni. There’s a big difference between those that are invited to the table and those that are striving to get to the table. Of course, there’s issues with both for women in ministry leadership. And I did like what she said about “leaving before you leave” and not being the ones to step up and take big projects, set lofty goals, etc. I posted the video on my blog too and I can’t wait to talk more about it next week. 🙂

      • Marni December 31, 2010  

        I have to agree wholly. I find myself shrinking back even in the position I am in at our Church – and it is namely right now (I know) that it is due to the fact my husband and I have only been members for a year, and I sincerely am still really getting a feel for many of the leadership (mostly comprised of men). But I know where God has called me in this Church, in this community, in this life – and I know God granted me a big mouth, and passion for people, for a reason; I just need to learn to use these two wisely and confidently.