Studies show that even after college, women are less ambitious than their male peers. Can answering this question help?
"They create this dream about going to college and finding a job, finding themselves, but really there are so many things holding women back." That's just one observation in the above video by a woman who answered this question: "What would you do if you weren't afraid?"
Indeed, thanks to the negative messages women and girls hear about leadership (girls who lead are too "bossy"), fear is holding many women back from achieving their dreams. Now the "What Would You Do if You Weren't Afraid" project, a just-launched effort from Lean In, the organization started by Sheryl Sandberg, author of the bestselling book by the same name, wants to help women overcome our society's gendered notions about leadership.
One million American women graduate from college this spring, but "if your graduating class is anything like mine," Sandberg writes on Lean In's blog, "some of your classmates have already pinpointed a path to the future, while others may not even know where to begin." However, says Sandberg, "no matter what route you choose personally, I am writing to appeal to you to take on a critically important cause that will improve the lives of all: building a more equal world."
How do we build a more equal world? While there is much work that men need to do for full gender equality to be achieved, Sandberg is all about ensuring that women overcome their fears and reach for that brass ring of leadership. Except, right now, that's not exactly happening. As posted on the What Would You Do if You Weren't Afraid Tumblr, not all women are leaning in: "Studies show that even after college, women are less ambitious than their male peers. They avoid leadership roles. They are afraid to speak up."
The hope is that women will be inspired to share on the project's Tumblr what they'd do if fear was not a factor—and then take action in their personal lives. Given that women as a whole are on the receiving end of sexist messaging that leadership is just for boys, it's certainly a question worth responding to even if you didn't go to college or you're not a recent college graduate.
Click here to add answering "What Would You Do if You Weren't Afraid?" to your GOOD "to-do" list.