destroying double standards

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Last week I re-posted in honor of my anniversary,”Tips for a long-lasting marriage or friendship“. The first tip I listed was partnership.

Then this morning I was reading the chapter, “Making Your Partner a Real Partner” from Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg… so I have partnership on the brain today!


Sandberg writes mainly advocating for women in leadership, but this chapter
advocates very much for men.

One thing that has concerned me through the years has been the limited role of men in home and family. As a woman blessed to have a spouse who has been a “real partner” for our 28 years of marriage, I find it easy to advocate for real partnership in marriage, home, and work.

Sandberg mentions various barriers to real partnership at home that I have seen and experienced myself. She also suggests ways to overcome the barriers. I wonder if you can relate to any of these?

1. Empowerment

Just as woman struggle with lack of empowerment in the business world, men often face a lack of empowerment at home.Too many times I have heard women criticize their husbands’ for how they feed, dress, or interact with their children. In my opinion, these women not only sound disrespectful and insulting, but also prideful, and they are doing their marriage partnership a great disservice (and increasing their own work load). Sandberg correctly states, “Anyone who wants her mate to be a true partner must treat him as an equal–and equally capable–partner.“¹ it is fine to choose task assignments according to preference or skill, but assuming and communicating that a man cannot do (or learn to do) a good job at home is demeaning and de-motivating. On the other hand, empowering will help to take down the barriers between real partners.

2. Encouragement

Derogatory jokes, lack of role models, and social stereotypes all make it more difficult for men to openly and actively participate as full partners at home. I have known a few men who were the primary care-givers for their children. I have known more men who shared equally home and family responsibilities (my husband included).Others teased, questioned, and sometimes isolated these men because of their desire and commitment to actively engage as true partners, rather than praised and honored for their choices.Thankfully, these men did not have the (oft-ascribed) fragile male egos I am frequently warned about, and they refused to be discouraged or dissuaded by stereotypical expectations. Men and women both can do a better job at encouraging men when they act as true partners.

3. Employment policies

Most companies do not offer men the same paternal benefits that are available to women. According to Sandberg, “Only two states offer paid family leave that fathers can use”². Men often pay an even bigger penalty than women via social pressure, low performance ratings,and fewer advancement opportunities if they take time off to prioritize family needs. I believe we need to improve the organizational/governmental policies and laws to support true partnership.

Sandberg claims that true marriage partnership results in greater satisfaction, less divorce, and more sex³, and greater father involvement produces “higher levels of psychological well-being and better cognitive abilities”⁴ and “higher levels of educational and economic achievement and lower delinquency rates”⁴ for the children. These benefits motivate me to work to eliminate the double standards that inhibit true partnership.

Are there ways you can improve true partnership in your marriage?

If you are dating, are you establishing true partnership patterns today for future marriage? 

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**For more chapter summaries from Lean In, read here and here.

¹ Sandberg, Sheryl. Lean In. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2013, pg. 109, para. 2. 
² Ibid, pg. 113, para. 2.
³ Ibid, pg. 118, para. 1. 
⁴ Ibid, pg. 113, para. 1.

do nice girls finish last?

Lean InI am making my way through Sheryl Sandberg’s book, Lean In, and chapter three made me stop and think a bit. The chapter is called “Success and Likeability”, and Sandberg starts out with a Harvard Business School case study based on the experience of an entrepreneur named Heidi Roizen. Sandberg writes:

The case described how Roizen became a successful venture capitalist by using her “outgoing personality… and vast personal and professional network [that] included many of the most powerful business leaders in the technology sector”. [The professors] assigned half of the students to read Heidi’s story and gave the other half the same story with just one difference – they changed the name “Heidi” to “Howard”.

[The Professors] then polled the students about their impressions of Heidi or Howard. The students rated Heidi and Howard as equally competent… their accomplishments were completely identical. Yet while students respected both Heidi and Howard, Howard came across as a more appealing colleague. Heidi, on the other hand, was seen as selfish and not “the type of person you would want to hire or work for.” The same data with a single difference – gender – created vastly different impressions.¹ (emphasis mine)

Sandberg argues that the case study further proves research that,”When a man is successful, he is liked by both men and women. When a woman is successful, people of both genders like her less.”² Sandberg explains that from early on, girls learn that intelligence and success are not the path to popularity. In addition, socially acceptable behavior allows men to claim credit for achievements and assertively negotiate for higher salary, whereas a woman is perceived as arrogant and self-serving if she does the same. Women are expected to help without reward, and care and advocate for others.

The ultimate goal is to eventually eliminate different attitudes and treatment based on stereotypes, but until then Sandberg offers a few suggestions for women. I’ve re-written them in my own words here:

1. Pay the price – Women need to accept that there will be unfair biases and criticism. Sandberg suggests that we allow ourselves to feel and work through the emotions generated by the criticism, but then move on and do our job.

2. Play to your strengths – Some of the common “nice” characteristics ascribed to women – caring, communication, community – greatly improve teamwork. As women smile and appreciate others – while focusing on the task – productivity increases.

3. Position yourself communally – Women will have more success in negotiations when they use “we” vocabulary as context for their requests. Petitions couched in common interests and concern for the common good are more readily accepted from women than those that appear self-centered or self-promoting.

4. Purpose to become comfortable with power – It will take concentrated effort to change mindsets and perspectives based on years of habit and feedback, but as women work to become more comfortable with their power, they will also lean in with greater confidence.

Have you ever struggled with the “nice” girl dilemma? What do you think of Sheryl Sandberg’s tips for overcoming that stereotype?

For my men readers… what do you think? Are women held to a different standard than men?

______________________

¹ Sandberg, Sheryl. Lean In. Chapter 3, para. 2-3. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2013.

² Ibid. Chapter 3, para. 4.

rompiendo las barreras

file0001312170283Además de las barreras externas construidas por la sociedad,
las mujeres se están obstaculizadas por las barreras
que existen dentro de nosotras mismas.
Sheryl Sandberg¹

Recibí una copia del libro de Sandberg, Vayamos Adelante, de una querida amiga. Sólo lo he empezado a leer, pero he encontrado conexión, empatía, autenticidad, gracia y desafío en los primeros capítulos. Sandberg propone una hipótesis que muchos de nosotros ya sabemos es verdad… como mujeres, a menudo somos nuestro peor enemigo.

Sandberg explica que las mujeres a menudo profundamente interiorizan los mensajes negativos que recibimos durante nuestra vida – y subestiman rápidamente los mensajes positivos que ganamos.

Yo creo que las mujeres son esenciales para hacer cambios mundiales importantes en la sociedad a través de nuestras relaciones, familias y puestos de trabajo hoy en día. Para hacer eso, necesitamos el apoyo, la defensa y la colaboración de los hombres en nuestras vidas, pero también necesitamos creer en nosotras mismas para pasar con confianza a los lugares que hemos sido creados y dotados para estar.

¿Cómo podemos hacer eso? He empezado aquí una lista basada en algunos de los comentarios de Sandberg y algunas de mis propias experiencias…

Adquirir auto-conocimiento.

Perfiles de personalidad, Las Fortalezas, El Mejor Reflejo, preferencias de trabajo, listas de dones, la retroalimentación de mentores/amigos otros… todos me han ayudado a descubrir y afirmar mi valor y mi contribución única. Cuanto más aprendo sobre mí mismo, más fácil es elegir dónde invertir mi tiempo y mis talentos con confianza.

No darle poder innecesario a los estereotipos de género.

“Fuerte”, “firme”, “franco”, “inteligente” – estas palabras describen a menudo negativamente una mujer líder, pero se complementan a un hombre. Palabras como “sensible”, “apasionado”, “cuidado”, “transparencia”, también se puede utilizar para hacer caso omiso de la posición de una mujer, pero se considerarán características poco comunes y valiosas para los hombres. El principio clave es recordar – no importa lo que haga o cómo sea, nunca voy a satisfacer a todos. Necesito estar cómodo en mi propia piel.

Pasar por arriba del miedo.

Las mujeres a veces sienten miedo… miedo de no saber lo suficiente, miedo de decir algo tonto, miedo de fracasar, miedo de ser etiquetado como un fraude². Temores como estos fácilmente me podrían paralizar y hacerme dar un paso atrás de las oportunidades, pero muy a menudo son irracionales y nunca ocurren. Estoy aprendiendo a hablar o actuar con valentía a pesar de mis temores. Estoy aprendiendo que me necesitan y por eso, debo “mantener mi mano levantado… y sentarme a la mesa”³

Decir un simple “gracias” por elogios y premios.

Sandberg explica que a menudo es nuestra inseguridad que nos hace menospreciar, subestimar y negar los logros y reconocimientos que recibimos. A veces no llego a aceptar un cumplido sin explicar o excusarlo con un: “No fue nada”, “Tuve mucha ayuda” o “Ya los he engañado.” Estoy agradecido por los de mi vida que (primero) expresan su sincero agradecimiento por mis esfuerzos y (segundo) me confrontan si sub-valoro mi contribución.

¿Tú luchas con algunas de estas barreras? ¿Qué añadirías a esta lista?

¹Sandberg, Sheryl. Vayamos Adelante: Las mujeres, el trabajo y la voluntad de liderar. Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2013. p. 8. ²Ibid. p. 28-29. ³Ibid. p.38

breaking down barriers

file0001312170283In addition to the external barriers erected by society,
women are hindered by barriers that exist within ourselves.
Sheryl Sandberg¹

I received a copy of Sandberg’s book, “Lean In“, from a dear friend. I have only started reading it, but I have found connection, empathy, authenticity, grace, and challenge in the first chapters. Sandberg proposes a hypothesis which many of us already know is truth… as women, we are often our own worst enemy.

Sandberg explains that women often deeply internalize the negative messages we receive during our life – and quickly undervalue the positive messages that we earn.

I believe that women are essential to making important world changes in society through our relationships, families, and jobs today. To do that, we need support, advocacy, and partnership with the men in our lives, but we also need to believe in ourselves to step confidently into the places that we are created and gifted to fill. 

How can we do that? I’ve started a list here from some of Sandberg’s comments and some of my own experiences:

Gain self-awareness.

Personality profiles, StrengthsFinder, Reflected Best Self Exercise, work preferences, gift tests, feedback from mentors/friends/others… all help to discover and affirm unique value and contribution. The more I learn about myself, the easier it is to choose where to invest my time and my talents with confidence.

Don’t give unnecessary power to gender stereotypes.

“Strong”, “assertive”, “outspoken”, “intelligent” – these words often negatively describe a woman leader, but compliment a man. Words like “sensitive”, “passionate”, “caring”, “transparent” can also be used to disregard a woman’s position, but be considered uncommon and valuable assets for men. The key principle to remember is – no matter what I do or what I am like, I will never please everyone. I need to be comfortable in my own skin.

Get past the fear.

Women sometimes feel afraid… afraid of not knowing enough, afraid of saying something stupid, afraid of failing, afraid of being labeled as a fraud². Fears like these could easily paralyze and cause a step back from opportunities, but so often they are irrational and never actually occur. I am learning to speak up or act with courage in spite of my fears. I am learning that I am needed and because of that, I must “keep my hand up… and sit at the table”³. 

Say a simple “Thank You” for compliments and awards.

Sandberg explains that it is often our insecurity that causes us to scoff, brush off, and negate the achievements and accolades that we receive. I sometimes fail to accept a compliment without explaining or excusing it away with a, “It was nothing”, “I had lots of help”, or “I guess I had them fooled.” I am grateful for those in my life who (first) express their sincere appreciation for my efforts and (second) confront me if I undervalue my contribution. 

How have you been your own worst enemy? What would you add to this list?

¹Sandberg, Sheryl. Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead. Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2013. p. 8.
²Ibid. p. 28-29.
³Ibid. p.38