“Keep Your Hand Raised”

As part of my Leadership class last week, we watched Sheryl Sandberg’s TED Talk on why we have too few women leaders. Without getting into a debate about the barriers women do or don’t still need to overcome (I think The Atlantic and this rebuttal sum that up nicely), she made some interesting points. After watching the talk and having a class discussion around some other materials, we were asked how what we learned could be translated into advice for students. This is one of the reasons I love this class: practical application! Not enough classes addresses how you can use the information you learn.

One of Sandberg’s anecdotes involved a meeting she was conducting. When she said “two more questions”, after those were answered, the women in the room put their hands down while the men kept their hands raised. She did, in fact, answer more questions after those two, but those that put their hands down didn’t have their questions answered, because, well, their hands were down. A female colleague pointed this out afterwards and it became an important point in her talk: keep your hand raised.

I love this, both in the literal sense and as a metaphor. This is exactly the kind of takeaway I want students to have after working with me. Keep your hand raised, because…

  • You may still have questions. If you have questions, that’s okay, don’t be too afraid to ask them.
  • You may have something to say. If what you have to say is important, than say it.
  • You should always be striving to learn something new, and to learn from those around you.
  • It’s polite. Don’t talk over people, wait until it’s your turn to speak.

Why do you keep your hand raised?

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