By Laura Berman
On Monday, October 28, the MBA Women’s International Club at Thunderbird sponsored a viewing party to watch a live stream of a presentation by Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook, about her organization, Lean In. Lean In is a global community dedicated to supporting women leaning in to their ambitions. Sandberg wrote a book with this same title and started the organization to promote women’s business issues with peer groups on college campuses around the world.
Our viewing party consisted of women and men Thunderbird students and staff members. We watched the hour-long presentation that included personal stories from Sandberg’s experiences as well as a Q&A session from the live audience at Facebook’s headquarters and questions sent in online.
Sandberg pointed out that women get aid $0.77 for every $1.00 that a man makes, black women make $0.64 and Hispanic women make $0.54. This data stunned many in the Thunderbird audience.
Sandberg also addressed how stereotypes in language affect behavior. During the presentation, Sandberg asked first the men in the audience to raise their hands if they had ever been called bossy. She then asked the women to do the same. Very few if any men raised their hands while almost all of the women did. The visual effect was stunning. Sandberg noted that women are discouraged from being leaders at a young age by being called bossy or aggressive while this behavior is rewarded and encouraged in boys.
For me personally, there were two major lessons that I took away from the event. The first is that many women, even those as successful and prominent as Sheryl Sandberg, can have self-doubt, question their self-confidence, and often do not know how to take a compliment. It was nice to know that it isn’t only me that had these feelings. Listening to the presentation and knowing there is a community of successful women out there who feel the same way is very encouraging and motivating.
The second lesson for me was that many women had inspiring stories behind their success. Dodie Busch from the CMC led a discussion after the presentation and I continue to be impressed by the stories of my classmates and Thunderbird family. I am inspired to work harder and support my friends at Thunderbird and in their professional lives.
If you are interested in watching the recorded presentation, visit: http://new.livestream.com/leanin/campus