(Photo Credit: sam_churchill/Flickr)
The one-minute commercial captures the all-too-common labels that are imposed on women for exuding power, tenacity, and confidence. In the video, the following five double-standards are portrayed in successive sequences, with the labels correlating to men and women, respectively:
Boss vs. Bossy
Persuasive vs. Pushy
Dedicated vs. Selfish
Neat vs. Vain
Smooth vs. Show-off
What seems like effective leadership for a boss that is male, is often seen as bossy when the position is held by a female. Likewise, vanity seems to be an attractive trait for men to have, and they are viewed as well-kept and neat. However, for women, vanity is an undesirable trait that makes them appear conceited and superficial. People may not want to acknowledge the existence of such double standards in today’s business world, but, the truth of the matter is, they absolutely do exist – and they’re causing women to “lean back” in their careers, without them even realizing it.
No one knows this better than Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, who sparked a revolution for women in business with her book Lean In, which encourages women to stop holding themselves back and begin “leaning in” to their careers. As for the Pantene commercial, Sandberg was a big fan (obviously), and she shared the video on her Facebook page with the following message:
“This is one of the most powerful videos I have ever seen illustrating how when women and men do the same things, they are seen in completely different ways. Really worth watching. Lean In prize of the day for sure!” (Source: NYDailyNews.com)
Lean In not only tells women to confidently take control of their careers, but also asks that men do their part, as partners and colleagues, to help empower women in and out of the home. As the commercial points out, it’s viewed as selfish for a woman with children (or who hopes to one day) to pursue a career, rather than focus on being a mother, but the stigma is nonexistent for a man/father. Sandberg seems to have a solution to this dilemma, as she suggests, “Give us a world where half our homes are run by men, and half our institutions are run by women. I'm pretty sure that would be a better world.”
It’s a good thing that big brands, such as Pantene, are beginning to recognize that gender biases still exist and need to be eliminated so that women can reach their full potential in their careers. Maybe one day soon, career-driven women won’t be viewed as selfish, but as dedicated; and women in high-ranking positions won’t be considered pushy or bossy, but rather valued for their leadership skills. Until that day comes, women are encouraged to continue to break through, lean in, and whip it in their personal and professional lives so that they can enjoy the sweet taste of equality once and for all.
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