Sheryl sandberg encourages women bloggers to ‘lean in’

On Saturday at the BlogHer conference in Chicago, Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg sat down with BlogHer CEO Lisa Stone before an audience of a large number of women bloggers, for a conversation in what this means to "lean in."

Sandberg’s book, Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead, has recently sold several million copies, and has been translated into 11 languages. Listed below are three tips from Sandberg on what men and women could work together for gender equality at work.

1. Reframe how you think. We as a society never discuss gender, Sandberg said. We have to talk about it, not only with friends, but at the job as well. "For me personally, the blunt truth is men run the world. I say that on stages and the audience gasps. Shop around. There isn’t any single country on the planet it doesn’t have 95 percent of its companies run by men…that must change," she said. Individuals could make a direct effect, she said, by changing the firms and institutions they work for.

"Lean In is approximately believing in ourselves and reaching for just about any ambition. It’s about every one of us, asking what we’d do if we weren’t afraid, and reaching for all those ambitions, whatever they are," Sandberg said. This must start early. "When girls lead, they’re called bossy. As time passes, children internalize these messages," Sandberg said. She asked the audience to improve their hands if they’ve ever been told these were bossy, and nearly every hand went up.

Richard Branson on Sheryl Sandberg, ‘Leaning In,’ and Balanced Workplaces

A similar thing happened when Sandberg asked whether women were told these were too aggressive at the job. Boys aren’t told they are being bossy, and men aren’t being told they are too aggressive at work. That must change, Sandberg said. "[The] the next time you would like to call your daughter bossy, take a breath and say, ‘My daughter has executive leadership skills,’" Sandberg said.

2. Get active support. The mission of Leanin.org is clear: "You want to provide women with the encouragement and support to lead. We wish women and men to trust we can reach real equality…we want to close the pay gap," Sandberg said. Lean In Circles are small sets of eight to twelve people who gather regularly to help one another advance within their careers. "The theory behind circles is none folks does this alone. Most of us need support," Sandberg explained. Tips for circles add a commitment to gather regularly either virtually or personally, a circle of peers from others, and strict confidentiality of what’s shared within the circle. Leanin.org provides free expert lectures and discussion guides on topics which range from negotiation to using body gestures to improve your influence.

3. Realize your to be there. Sandberg wants women to sit at the table, rather than waiting in the wings. In her publication, she references a gathering at Facebook with then-Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner where in fact the men were seated around a conference table and the ladies sat in chairs off aside. The ladies appeared as spectators, instead of participants, Sandberg noted.

"Everywhere I go, senior executive men tell me, ‘You are costing me so much money because all of the ladies in my company are demanding raises.’" Sandberg said she doesn’t apologize. She wants more women to sit at the table, also to do so unapologetically. "It does take most of us working together."