Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO and author of the bestselling book Lean In, has seen plenty of women rise -- and stall -- on their way up the leadership ladder. Drawing upon these experiences and keen insights in Lean In, she examines women's struggles with leadership, dissects the causes of real-life career roadblocks and empowers women to "lean in" to reach their full potential.
In this clip from an episode of "Oprah's Next Chapter," Sandberg mentions a gender-bending experiment that focused on Heidi Roizen, a successful entrepreneur in Silicon Valley. As part of the experiment, a professor at Columbia University took a case study Heidi had written and copied it word-for-word, altering only one important detail: He changed Heidi's name to Howard.
The professor then gave both the Heidi and "Howard" case studies to business school students and polled them to get their impressions of the two individuals. Were the man and woman perceived differently because of their genders?
"The good news was that people found Howard and Heidi equally competent," Sheryl says in the clip. "But they liked Howard. Howard was a great guy -- you want to hang out with Howard."
This wasn't the case for Heidi. "Heidi, not so sure you trust her, not so sure you want to work for her," Sheryl says, relaying the students' impressions of the businesswoman. "She's out for herself."
This surprising difference is explained in Lean In, where Sheryl writes, "If a woman is competent, she does not seem nice enough. If a woman seems really nice, she's considered more nice than competent. Since people want to hire and promote those who are both competent and nice, this creates a huge stumbling block for women."
Elaborating on this point, Sheryl says in the clip, "We expect people to adhere to stereotypes... The stereotype of men is: leadership qualities. Leader, decisive, going to make things happen. The stereotype of women are communal qualities. Caregiving, sensitive. Because we expect those qualities to be in opposition to each other, it means when a woman does anything other than be nice first, she's judged badly. So people like Howard and don't like Heidi."
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