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  • Pat Mitchell: Your first time back on the TEDWomen stage.

  • Sheryl Sandberg: First time back. Nice to see everyone. It's always so nice to look out

  • and see so many women.

  • It's so not my regular experience, as I know anyone else's.

  • PM: So when we first started talking about, maybe the subject wouldn't be social media,

  • which we assumed it would be, but that you had very much on your mind

  • the missing leadership positions, particularly in the sector of technology and social media.

  • But how did that evolve for you as a thought, and end up being the TED Talk that you gave?

  • SS: So I was really scared to get on this stage and talk about women,

  • because I grew up in the business world, as I think so many of us did.

  • You never talk about being a woman, because someone might notice that you're a woman, right?

  • They might notice. Or worse, if you say "woman," people on the other end of the table

  • think you're asking for special treatment, or complaining.

  • Or worse, about to sue them. And so I went through -- (Laughter)

  • Right? I went through my entire business career,

  • and never spoke about being a woman, never spoke about it publicly.

  • But I also had noticed that it wasn't working.

  • I came out of college over 20 years ago, and I thought

  • that all of my peers were men and women, all the people above me were all men,

  • but that would change,

  • because your generation had done such an amazing job fighting for equality,

  • equality was now ours for the taking. And it wasn't.

  • Because year after year, I was one of fewer and fewer,

  • and now, often the only woman in a room.

  • And I talked to a bunch of people about,

  • should I give a speech at TEDWomen about women, and they said, oh no, no.

  • It will end your business career. You cannot be a serious business executive

  • and speak about being a woman. You'll never be taken seriously again.

  • But fortunately, there were the few, the proud -- like you -- who told me I should give the speech,

  • and I asked myself the question Mark Zuckerberg might --

  • the founder of Facebook and my boss --

  • asks all of us, which is, what would I do if I wasn't afraid?

  • And the answer to what would I do if I wasn't afraid is I would get on the TED stage,

  • and talk about women, and leadership. And I did, and survived. (Applause)

  • PM: I would say, not only survived. I'm thinking of that moment, Sheryl,

  • when you and I were standing backstage together, and you turned to me,

  • and you told me a story.

  • And I said -- very last minute -- you know, you really should share that story.

  • SS: Oh, yeah. PM: What was that story?

  • SS: Well, it's an important part of the journey. So I had -- TEDWomen --

  • the original one was in D.C. -- so I live here, so I had gotten on a plane the day before,

  • and my daughter was three, she was clinging to my leg: "Mommy, don't go."

  • And Pat's a friend, and so, not related to the speech I was planning on giving,

  • which was chock full of facts and figures, and nothing personal,

  • I told Pat the story. I said, well, I'm having a hard day.

  • Yesterday my daughter was clinging to my leg, and "Don't go."

  • And you looked at me and said, you have to tell that story.

  • I said, on the TED stage? Are you kidding?

  • I'm going to get on a stage and admit my daughter was clinging to my leg?

  • And you said yes, because if you want to talk about getting more women into leadership roles,

  • you have to be honest about how hard it is.

  • And I did. And I think that's a really important part of the journey.

  • The same thing happened when I wrote my book. I started writing the book. I wrote a first chapter,

  • I thought it was fabulous. It was chock-full of data and figures,

  • I had three pages on matrilineal Maasai tribes, and their sociological patterns.

  • My husband read it and he was like, this is like eating your Wheaties. (Laughter)

  • No one -- and I apologize to Wheaties if there's someone -- no one, no one will read this book.

  • And I realized through the process that I had to be more honest and more open,

  • and I had to tell my stories. My stories of still not feeling as self-confident as I should,

  • in many situations. My first and failed marriage. Crying at work.

  • Felling like I didn't belong there, feeling guilty to this day.

  • And part of my journey, starting on this stage, going to "Lean In," going to the foundation,

  • is all about being more open and honest about those challenges,

  • so that other women can be more open and honest,

  • and all of us can work together towards real equality.

  • PM: I think that one of the most striking parts about the book,

  • and in my opinion, one of the reasons it's hit such a nerve and is resonating around the world,

  • is that you are personal in the book, and that you do make it clear that,

  • while you've observed some things that are very important for other women to know,

  • that you've had the same challenges that many others of us have,

  • as you faced the hurdles and the barriers and possibly the people who don't believe the same.

  • So talk about that process: deciding you'd go public with the private part,

  • and then you would also put yourself in the position of something of an expert

  • on how to resolve those challenges.

  • SS: After I did the TED Talk, what happened was --

  • you know, I never really expected to write a book, I'm not an author, I'm not a writer,

  • and it was viewed a lot, and it really started impacting people's lives.

  • I got this great --- one of the first letters I got was from a woman

  • who said that she was offered a really big promotion at work, and she turned it down,

  • and she told her best friend she turned it down, and her best friend said,

  • you really need to watch this TED Talk.

  • And so she watched this TED Talk, and she went back the next day, she took the job,

  • she went home, and she handed her husband the grocery list. (Laughter)

  • And she said, I can do this.

  • And what really mattered to me -- it wasn't only women in the corporate world,

  • even though I did hear from a lot of them, and it did impact a lot of them,

  • it was also people of all different circumstances.

  • There was a doctor I met who was an attending physician at Johns Hopkins,

  • and he said that until he saw my TED Talk, it never really occurred to him

  • that even though half the students in his med school classes were women,

  • they weren't speaking as much as the men as he did his rounds.

  • So he started paying attention, and as he waited for raised hands, he realized the men's hands were up.

  • So he started encouraging the women to raise their hands more,

  • and it still didn't work.

  • So he told everyone, no more hand raising, I'm cold-calling.

  • So he could call evenly on men and women. And what he proved to himself was that

  • the women knew the answers just as well or better,

  • and he was able to go back to them and tell them that.

  • And then there was the woman, stay-at-home mom, lives in a really difficult neighborhood,

  • with not a great school, she said that TED Talk -- she's never had a corporate job,

  • but that TED Talk inspired her to go to her school and fight for a better teacher for her child.

  • And I guess it was part of was finding my own voice.

  • And I realized that other women and men could find their voice through it,

  • which is why I went from the talk to the book.

  • PM: And in the book, you not only found your voice, which is clear and strong in the book,

  • but you also share what you've learned --

  • the experiences of other people in the lessons.

  • And that's what I'm thinking about in terms of putting yourself in a --

  • you became a sort of expert in how you lean in.

  • So what did that feel like, and become like in your life?

  • To launch not just a book, not just a best-selling, best-viewed talk,

  • but a movement, where people began to literally describe their actions at work as,

  • I'm leaning in.

  • SS: I mean, I'm grateful, I'm honored, I'm happy, and it's the very beginning.

  • So I don't know if I'm an expert, or if anyone is an expert. I certainly have done a lot of research.

  • I have read every study, I have pored over the materials,

  • and the lessons are very clear. Because here's what we know:

  • What we know is that stereotypes are holding women back from leadership roles all over the world.

  • It's so striking. "Lean In" is very global, I've been all over the world,

  • talking about it, and -- cultures are so different.

  • Even within our own country, to Japan, to Korea, to China, to Asia, Europe,

  • they're so different. Except for one thing: gender.

  • All over the world, no matter what our cultures are,

  • we think men should be strong, assertive, aggressive, have voice;

  • we think women should speak when spoken to, help others.

  • Now we have, all over the world,

  • women are called "bossy." There is a word for "bossy,"

  • for little girls, in every language there's one.

  • It's a word that's pretty much not used for little boys,

  • because if a little boy leads, there's no negative word for it,

  • it's expected. But if a little girl leads, she's bossy.

  • Now I know there aren't a lot of men here, but bear with me.

  • If you're a man, you'll have to represent your gender.

  • Please raise your hand if you've been told you're too aggressive at work.

  • (Laughter) There's always a few, it runs about five percent. Okay, get ready, gentlemen.

  • If you're a woman, please raise your hand if you've ever been told you're too aggressive at work.

  • (Laughter) That is what audiences have said in every country in the world,

  • and it's deeply supported by the data.

  • Now, do we think women are more aggressive than men? Of course not.

  • It's just that we judge them through a different lens,

  • and a lot of the character traits that you must exhibit to perform at work, to get results, to lead,

  • are ones that we think, in a man, he's a boss,

  • and in a woman, she's bossy.

  • And the good news about this is that we can change this by acknowledging it.

  • One of the happiest moments I had in this whole journey is,

  • after the book came out, I stood on a stage with John Chambers, the CEO of Cisco.

  • He read the book. He stood on a stage with me, he invited me in front of his whole management team,

  • men and women, and he said, I thought we were good at this. I thought I was good at this.

  • And then I read this book, and I realized that we -- my company --

  • we have called all of our senior women too aggressive,

  • and I'm standing on this stage, and I'm sorry.

  • And I want you to know we're never going to do it again.

  • PM: Can we send that to a lot of other people that we know? (Applause)

  • SS: And so John is doing that because he believes it's good for his company,

  • and so this kind of acknowledgement of these biases can change it.

  • And so next time you all see someone call a little girl "bossy,"

  • you walk right up to that person, big smile, and you say,

  • "That little girl's not bossy. That little girl has executive leadership skills." (Laughter)

  • PM: I know that's what you're telling your daughter. SS: Absolutely.

  • PM: And you did focus in the book -- and the reason, as you said, in writing it,

  • was to create a dialogue about this.

  • I mean, let's just put it out there, face the fact that women are --

  • in a time when we have more open doors, and more opportunities --

  • are still not getting to the leadership positions.

  • So in the months that have come since the book,

  • in which "Lean In" focused on that and said,

  • here are some of the challenges that remain, and many of them we have to own within ourselves

  • and look at ourselves. What has changed?

  • Have you seen changes?

  • SS: Well, there's certainly more dialogue, which is great.

  • But what really matters to me, and I think all of us, is action.

  • So everywhere I go, CEOs, they're mostly men, say to me,

  • you're costing me so much money

  • because all the women want to be paid as much as the men.

  • And to them I say, I'm not sorry at all. (Laughter)

  • At all. I mean, the women should be paid as much as the men.

  • Everywhere I go, women tell me they ask for raises.

  • Everywhere I go, women say they're getting better relationships with their spouses,

  • asking for more help at home, asking for the promotions they should be getting at work,

  • and importantly, believing it themselves. Even little things.

  • One of the governors of one of the states told me that he didn't realize that more women were, in fact,

  • literally sitting on the side of the room, which they are,

  • and now he made a rule that all the women on his staff need to sit at the table.

  • The foundation I started along with the book "Lean In"

  • helps women, or men, start circles -- small groups,

  • it can be 10, it can be however many you want, which meet once a month.

  • I would have hoped that by now, we'd have about 500 circles. That would've been great.

  • You know, 500 times roughly 10.

  • There are over 12,000 circles in 50 countries in the world.

  • PM: Wow, that's amazing.

  • SS: And these are people who are meeting every single month.

  • I met one of them, I was in Beijing.

  • A group of women, they're all about 29 or 30, they started the first Lean In circle in Beijing,

  • several of them grew up in very poor, rural China.

  • These women are 29, they are told by their society that they are "left over,"

  • because they are not yet married,

  • and the process of coming together once a month at a meeting

  • is helping them define who they are for themselves.

  • What they want in their careers. The kind of partners they want, if at all.

  • I looked at them, we went around and introduced ourselves,

  • and they all said their names and where they're from,

  • and I said, I'm Sheryl Sandberg, and this was my dream.

  • And I kind of just started crying.

  • Right, which, I admit, I do. Right? I've talked about it before.

  • But the fact that a woman so far away out in the world, who grew up in a rural village,

  • who's being told to marry someone she doesn't want to marry,

  • can now go meet once a month with a group of people and refuse that,

  • and find life on her own terms.

  • That's the kind of change we have to hope for.

  • PM: Have you been surprised by the global nature of the message?

  • Because I think when the book first came out, many people thought,

  • well, this is a really important handbook for young women on their way up.

  • They need to look at this, anticipate the barriers, and recognize them,

  • put them out in the open, have the dialogue about it,

  • but that it's really for women who are that. Doing that. Pursuing the corporate world.

  • And yet the book is being read, as you say, in rural and developing countries.

  • What part of that has surprised you, and perhaps led to a new perspective on your part?

  • SS: The book is about self-confidence, and about equality.

  • And it turns out, everywhere in the world, women need more self-confidence,

  • because the world tells us we're not equal to men.

  • Everywhere in the world, we live in a world where the men get "and,"

  • and women get "or."

  • I've never met a man who's been asked how he does it all. (Laughter)

  • Again, I'm going to turn to the men in the audience:

  • Please raise your hand if you've been asked, how do you do it all?

  • (Laughter)