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Girls & Women

Sheryl Sandberg Just Pinpointed Why We Don’t Have Enough Female Leaders

Flickr/Fortune Live Media

Who run the world?! Apparently it should be Sheryl Sandberg. 

Facebook Chief Operating Officer, nonprofit founder, mother, and Beyoncé fan, Sandberg does it all. Yesterday, she appeared on BBC 4’s “Desert Island Discs” and opened up about the gender pay gap, her husband’s death, and her favorite songs. 

“Desert Island Discs” is a long-running BBC radio show in which artists, writers, and public figures name eight music tracks they would bring on a desert island. It has featured artist Ed Sheeran, activist Gloria Steinem, and entrepreneur Bill Gates. 

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Throughout the 40-plus minute radio segment, Sandberg spoke eloquently about the need for women in leadership roles. 

“We start telling little girls not to lead at very young ages and we start telling little boys to lead at very young ages and that’s a mistake,” she said. “No matter what the cultural differences for women all over the world, all over the world we expect men to lead and women to do for others.” 

Her first desert island pick, Beyoncé’s “Run The World (Girls),” reflected this message. 

“Beyonce’s message that women can run the world, that women should run the world, her message that she’s the boss, I think, is super important for not just women but girls and boys to hear.” 

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Sandberg also spoke in-depth about the “imposter syndrome,” in which even the most competent, qualified women feel less qualified than men to perform the same job or task. 

“We know that women more than men suffer from the imposter syndrome and systematically underestimate their own performance,” Sandberg said. “I definitely struggled with self-doubt.”

She noted that this confidence gap begins at an early age, as young boys are encouraged to take on leadership positions, while young girls are not. 

“We need leaders of all types,” she said. “I believe everyone has inside them the ability to lead and we should let people choose that not based on gender, but on who they are and who they want to be.” 

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Sandberg’s interview came at a good time. Today is Black Women’s Equal Pay Day, Refinery29 reports, which means that black women would have to work all of 2016 and through today to make the same as white men made in 2016 alone. 

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The pay gap for Latinas, Refinery29 adds, is even more substantive. 

For women in many professions, women are underrepresented in leadership roles. In film, the top 10 female actors made half as much as the top paid male actors in 2016. A recent study showed that female doctors made $51,000 less than male doctors at public medical schools. 

The same is true in the tech world, where Sandberg is a leading figure. Women hold just 11% of leadership roles at Silicon Valley companies and found a mere 5% of startups. 

“We need to start paying women well and we need public policy and corporate policy to get there, but certainly women applying for jobs at the same rate as men, women running for office at the same rate as men, that’s gotta be part of the answer,” Sandberg said.  

Sandberg, through her non-profit Lean In, is on the front lines of this battle.