Challenging gender biases in the workplace

Georgia State students now have the ability to make the decision whether they want to “lean in or “lean back.”

Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO and author of best-selling book, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead,launched an organization and campus project across the world to inspire and empower people to discuss gender bias and inequalities in their lives.

On Oct. 28, at the 100 Auburn Avenue Auditorium, the J. Mack Robinson College of Business sponsored a livestream of Sheryl Sandberg’s presentation on the purpose behind her new program.

While Georgia State students were watching, people at 150 campuses, 16 different countries and six different continents were tuning to the livestream as well.

“I wrote Lean In and founded this organization for a very simple reason,” Sandberg said at the beginning of her speech. “This is going to be a big shocker–men still run the world. Although we’ve made huge gains for women in other ways, especially in education, progress for women at the top of almost every industry and almost every country in the world has stalled out.”

She focused
on encouraging women to pursue their ambitions and challenge the bias
that women in the workforce have to combat.

Sandberg’s book spurned the creation of an
organization, Lean In, that uses the concepts and advice given
in the book to reach an interactive and global level. Students and
leaders are encouraged to join at and establish
their “circles.”

Circles are the basis and “heart” of what Lean In aims to accomplish at college campuses.

Groups consisting of eight to 12 members meet monthly to mentor one another. The discussions at these circles are centered on gender-related problems in leadership roles across the world.

Grace Lee, admissions counselor and Georgia State alumna, shared her enthusiasm for the program.

think it’s important to gain this knowledge and [these] tools before you enter
the workforce. A lot of the time you find out once you’re in it–and it
can be too late to combat,” she said.

Sandberg ran through all of the stereotypes that need to be broken and conversations that need to happen, such as the widely accepted standard people hold for men and women and the stereotypes that hold the latter back.

“People think that men should be assertive, aggressive, speak out, decide things. Women should give to others, be communal and speak when spoken to. A man is being a leader–a woman is being bossy,” she said.

Sandberg added that women are told that they have to choose between a family and a career, while men can and should have it all. Sandberg’s goal is to create a dialogue with these circles of men and women and rise above the social constraints that are “keeping progress weak.”

Dr. Nancy R. Mansfield, professor of legal studies in the Robinson College of Business, praised Sandberg.

“The other night’s Lean In live stream event was a great start of a movement at Georgia State. Sheryl Sandberg’s message resonated with me and inspired me. We can all benefit by trying our hardest to excel, by raising our hand and keeping it up, by learning from our mistakes and by recognizing and eliminating gender bias along the way.”

Once registered as a member at Lean In, women and other students can start joining and creating circles as soon as possible.

Sheryl Sandberg wants this program to bridge significant gaps and cause change.

“My message to you, to all of you–women and men–is: We’re not going to change how we feel overnight–so don’t wait. Don’t wait to be sure you have the right answer to raise your hand. Don’t wait to be sure you’re qualified for the job to apply for the job. Understand that lots of times [people], but especially women, feel like frauds. Take a seat at the table anyway. Raise your hand anyway–surprise yourself.”