When I decided to write my latest book, Make Room for Her: Why Companies Need an Integrated Leadership Model to Achieve Extraordinary Results (McGraw-Hill, December 2012), my goal was to start a dialogue about the lack of women at the top levels of leadership. According to a recent New York Times article, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and former top State Department official Anne-Marie Slaughter have the same goal. The need for this dialogue is clear: after decades of talking about gender diversity, women are still grossly under-represented in the senior leadership ranks. Even though women make 80% of purchasing decisions, comprise 51% of the workforce and hold close to 50% of all managerial positions in the Fortune 500, they represent as little as 15% of the executive suite and corporate boards.
In her forthcoming book Lean In (Knopf, March 2013), Sheryl Sandberg argues that the primary reason women are not advancing to the senior ranks is because they often inadvertently sabotage themselves. On the other side of the debate is Anne-Marie Slaughter, who places the blame for the lack of women in senior leadership with the organizations who employ them and with policymakers who fail to enact legislation to support them.