Success and likability

Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg gives a 15-minute TED talk titled “Why we have too few women leaders”, that became the basis for her book Lean In.

Starting at 7:17: “I wish the answer were easy. I wish I could just go tell all the young women I work for, all these fabulous women, “believe in yourself, negotiate for yourself, own your own success”. I wish I could tell that to my daughter. But it’s not that simple, because what the data shows above all else is one thing, which is that success and likability are positively correlated for men, and negatively correlated for women. And everyone’s nodding, because we all know this to be true.

“There’s a really good study that shows this really well. There’s a famous Harvard business school study on a woman named Heidi Roizen. And she’s an operator in a company in Silicon Valley and she uses her contacts to become a very successful venture capitalist.

“In 2002, not so long ago, a professor who was then at Columbia University took that case and made it Heidi Boizen. And he gave that case out to two groups of students. He changed exactly one word, Heidi to Howard. But that one word made a really big difference. He then surveyed the students. And the good news was the students, both men and women thought Heidi and Howard were equally competent and that’s good. The bad news was that everyone liked Howard. He’s a great guy. You want to work for him. You want to spend the day fishing with him. But Heidi, not so sure, she’s a little out for herself. She’s a little political. You’re not sure you’d want to work for her.

“This is the complication. We have to tell our daughters and our colleagues, we have to tell ourselves to believe we got the A, to reach for the promotion, to sit at the table, but they have to do it in a world where for them there are sacrifices they will make for that. Even though for their brothers, there will not.”

So is this shifing? Maybe some. Ten years later, the same thing done again at New York University Stern School of Business, transcript here, scroll down to the interview with Heidi.

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