Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg spoke one on one with Arianna Huffington at the world economic forum in Davos, Switzerland, about, among other things, the proverbial glass ceiling for women in business.
She said, “Even with all the progress we’ve made, it’s still hard to speak in a professional setting as a woman. Women face real barriers.”
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Sandberg talked about how women are always in a sort of “damned if they do damned if they don’t” situation whereby if they are as aggressive as men in business then they get labeled bitches and whatever else. But if they are not aggressive then they get ignored and cannot advance.
About a press conference in which President Obama only called on women, “If he had only called on men it would have been another day in the office but you could see the people that normally get called on getting a little frustrated.’
When Huffington said that women are sometimes perceived as being too aggressive when they speak out Sandberg said, “As human beings we are incredibly sensitive to people’s reactions. If you watch someone say something you see how the person speaking reacts and as women we kind of follow one of two paths. Either we speak out aggressively and affirmatively and are results focused and then people often think ‘she’s not nice. She’s too aggressive. I don’t like her.”
“Or, ” she added “we’re quiet and spoken over. We are interrupted more. We take more notes at meetings. We sit at the back of the room more. And that’s really hurting women’s ability to get ahead.”