Summary of Sheryl Sandberg on the Myth of the Catty Woman

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Marit Bjorgen, the world’s leading female cross-country skier, had a problem: The younger Therese Johaug was threatening her lead. Many might expect that, in a jealous rage, the older woman ruthlessly sabotaged the upstart. Instead, Bjorgen mentored young Johaug and trained with her, and the two became close friends. In this New York Times opinion piece, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and Wharton School professor Adam Grant debunk the “myth of the catty woman” and explore people’s perceptions of women in business. getAbstract recommends the article to those who still believe that men simply make better bosses.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How, contrary to the stereotype, data can show that women in high positions do help other women rise,
  • Why people still cling to the stereotype and 
  • Which factors affect whether women help other women.

About the Authors

Sheryl Sandberg is the COO of Facebook, the author of Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead. Adam Grant is the author of Originals and a professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.



It’s a common stereotype that women hate to see other women succeed. However, research doesn’t support this notion. It is true that if one woman is already in senior management, a second woman is a lot less likely to reach the top echelons of that company – if the chief executive is male. But if the CEO is a woman, other women’s chances of rising in the ranks increase. Likewise, when a woman is already on a corporate board, more women in that company earn executive positions. For example, in Latin America, more female ministers hold office in countries with a female president.

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