The XX Factor

Don’t Leave Before You Leave

I saw Facebook COO Sheryl Sandbergs’ talk at the TED conference in Washington last week, and the line that stuck with me was: “don’t leave before you leave.”  I see what you’re saying, Dahlia , women plan their future work/life conflicts because they have to. But the result of that may be, as Sheryl put it, that they “take their foot off the gas pedal.” I’ve never quite heard anyone frame it this way so it was enlightening: She confessed that going back to work after having a child is really hard, what with the baby clinging to you  and the overwhelming guilt. So you need something pretty powerful pulling you back in. That is, you need a job that’s really interesting and fulfilling and has an upward trajectory. And you won’t have that if two years earlier you stopped taking promotions or volunteering for new work because you were worried about the future baby. This was only one of several great points she made about women at the top. Listening to Sheryl really convinced me that yes, we have to worry about discrimination and family friendly policies. But that a lot of the change has to come from within us, and that the real answer comes from encouraging girls to tap into their own confidence.