We need to start talking about how women underestimate their abilities compared to men and for women, but not men, success and likeability are negatively correlated.
That means that as a woman is more successful in your workplaces, she will be less liked.
This means that women need a different form of management and mentorship, a different form of sponsorship and encouragement and some protection, in some ways, more than men.
And there aren't enough senior women out there to do it, so it falls upon the men who are graduating today just as much or more as the women, not just to talk about gender but to help these women succeed.
When they hear a woman is really great at her job but not liked, take a deep breath and ask why.
We need to start talking openly about the flexibility all of us need to have both a job and a life.
A couple of weeks ago in an interview I said that I leave the office at 5:30 p. m. to have dinner with my children. And I was shocked at the press coverage. One of my friends said she wasn't sure I couldn't get more headlines if I had murdered someone with an ax. I told her I wasn't really interested in trying that.
But This showed me this is an unresolved issue for all of us, for men and women. Otherwise, why would everyone write so much about it.
And maybe, most importantly, we need to start talking about how fewer women than men, even from places like HBS, most likely even in this class, aspire to the very top jobs.
We will not close the leadership gap until we close the professional ambition gap. We need more women not just to sit at the table, but as President Obama said a few weeks ago at Barnard, to take their rightful seats at the head of the table.
One of the reasons I was so excited to be here today is that Dean Nohria told me that this year is the 50th anniversary of letting women into this class. Your Dean is so passionate about getting more women into leadership positions. And he told me that he wanted me to speak this year for that reason.
I met a woman from that first class once. She told me that when they first came in, the first class of woman, they took a men's room and converted it to a woman's room, made sense. But they left the urinals in.
She thought the message was super clear — 'we are not sure this whole girl thing is going to work out and if the case doesn't, we don't want to have to reinstall the urinals.' The urinals are long gone. Let's make sure that no one ever misses them.
As you and your classmates spread out across the globe and walk across this stage tomorrow, I wish for you four things:
First, keep in touch via Facebook. This is critical to your future success! And we're public now, so can you click on an ad or two while you are there.
Two, that you make the effort to speak as well as seek the truth.
Three, that you remain true to and open about your authentic self.
And four, most deeply, that your generation accomplishes what mine has failed to do.
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.
I join everyone here in offering my most sincere congratulations to the the Class of 2012. With your authentic self, give yourselves a huge round of applause.