In Sheryl Sandberg's mantra for the modern working woman, Lean In, she writes about how she was called bossy and pushy as a little girl with a mind of her own. And how so many other girls, and then women, later internalise this message. We should be playing nice, we shouldn't be bossy or ask for too much. As Sandberg also pointed out in her Ted Talk, there is a likeability gap between men and women in the workplace. The more powerful the woman, the less she is liked.
Sandberg's message for women to 'lean in' is about stopping women holding themselves back in the workplace in fear of being called bossy, or pushy or selfish.
But there's still a way to go, as this Pantene (?) Philippines hair commercial effectively sums up. Super shiny haired corporate women are shown doing the same things as men, but where text overlays the men with congratulatory words such as "persuasive" when giving a speech, and "dedicated" when shown working back late, it's a different story for the women. Instead they are labelled "pushy" for arguing their points and "selfish" for staying back late.
The ad has been praised by Sandberg herself. She wrote on her Facebook wall, "This is one of the most powerful videos I have ever seen illustrating how when women and men do the same things, they are seen in completely different ways. Really worth watching."
It's not so much a great commercial for shampoo (though I get the "stay strong" and "shine" messages), but it is a powerful reminder - along with the income gap - that there is a lot of leaning in to do before women are truly treated as equals in the workplace.
As Sandberg writes in Lean In
"In addition to the external barriers erected by society, women are also hindered by barriers that exist within ourselves. We hold ourselves back in ways both big and small, by lacking self-confidence, by not raising our hands, and by pulling back when we should be leaning in. We internalize the negative messages we get throughout our lives – the messages that say it's wrong to be outspoken, aggressive, more powerful than men. We lower our own expectations of what we can achieve."
Source: Policy Mic