Sheryl Sandberg Talks Workplace Sexism in 'New York Times' Op-Ed

How open are you to conversations about sexism in the workplace? That a question that's most important when asked of managers, executives, and CEOs, the real power players within a corporate structure whose implicit biases can have an outsized impact on the women working among them. If you're looking for a neat, tidy commentary on just this issue, you should check out The New York TimesFacebook COO Sheryl Sandberg talked workplace sexism in an op-ed Saturday, along with Professor Adam Grant of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. It's a detailed, well-written piece which highlights just a few of the ways that common, sexist misconceptions about women in the workplace can reinforce themselves over time.

Sandberg has long been an ardent voice in favor of heightened consciousness of sexism in the workplace, and in 2013 she published Lean In , a book dedicated to laying out ways for women to be more successful and less reticent in corporate power structures. Writing for the Times Saturday, Sandberg and Grant's feature begins with a little riddle which you may or may not have heard of before. I had, myself, as it's sometimes used to start conversations about implicit sexism. Which is exactly how they use it, right at the top — can you figure it out without reading ahead for the answer? Give it a try.

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Got it? Any luck? It's possible that the answer struck you simply enough, but if it didn't, don't beat yourself up about it — it's reflective of the gendered stereotypes we've all grown up with, and recognizing them is the first step to overcoming them. The solution to that little teaser above is that the surgeon is the boy's mother, not his father. But many people are so hardwired to picture a very particular image when they hear the word "surgeon" — something like a gray haired, spectacled old man — that the blindingly obvious answer goes overlooked.

It's those types of gender-based stereotypes and assumptions that Sandberg and Grant are railing against, but with some interesting and canny stipulations. Namely, that how we present the reality of gender and sex-based workplace bias to managers and leaders can color the kind of reaction it elicits.

Sandberg and Grant's explanation? That it isn't enough just to raise awareness of this sort of stuff — it needs to be paired with a firm communication that such discrimination is "undesirable and unacceptable."

Do yourself a favor and check out the full op-ed, it's well worth your time. And hats off to Sandberg for continuing to champion this cause — after all, we live in a corporate reality in which a mere 26 Fortune 500 companies are lead by women.

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