5 Must Watch TED Talks for the Aspirational

If you didn’t already know, TED Talks are an amazing resource for inspiration and thought-provoking ideas on a wide variety of topics. They even have ‘Women in business’ as a specific topic listed on their website, where you can find numerous talks on women and their work. Many people have seen or at least heard about Sheryl Sandberg’s famous ‘Lean In’ TED Talk ‘Why we have too few women leaders’, but there are many more. These talks can be good for widening your general knowledge of workplace practices regarding gender, advice on how to succeed, and give some starting points on how to critically think about the topics apply to your own life or career plan. These talks might be a good place to start…

Susan Colantuono: The career advice you probably didn’t get

“This is why the conventional advice to women in 40 years hasn’t closed the gender gap at the top and won’t close it”.

In this talk, Susan Colantuono talks about the amount of women in middle management who can’t seem to break into the top positions in their organisations. She attributes these differences to the way in which men and women approach improvement and promotion differently, and what advice they are being given by the people around them. Whilst the advice women are being given is not at all useless, they are missing a key factor that is needed to access the top jobs. This is a great talk to watch if you’re struggling to work out how to approach a promotion, to know what specific advice to ask for from mentors, or even to give you some tips on what to talk about in interviews to best show off your skills.

David Burkus: Why you should know how much your coworkers get paid

“If we really want to close the gender wage gap, maybe we should start by opening up the payroll”.

This talk isn’t specifically about women in the workplace, but more generally about issues of pay. The practice of keeping how much you get paid a secret from your coworkers can influence wage gaps, and the uncertainty of not knowing how much they are paid in relation to others can make employees feel discriminated against, overall leading to an unhappy workplace. David Burkus talks about his research into pay secrecy, the power relationships that are at play in the workplace and advocates a move away from secrecy to decrease wage gaps and create better work relationships. Even if you don’t work in an environment that fosters pay secrecy, this talk is a good one to watch so that you’re aware of this practice and how it impacts employees and workplaces.

Roselinde Torres: What it takes to be a great leader

“So what makes a great leader in the 21st century? I've met many, and they stand out”.

In this short talk, Roselinde Torres introduces three questions people should ask themselves if they want to stand out as leaders. She raises some good points about the benefits of having a diverse network of people around you, and the importance of always anticipating your next steps. More generally this talk could be useful for those who are looking to be in leadership roles and stand out from the crowd. However, it’s also important to note, as with all the talks, when they were filmed. This talk is from 2013, and whilst the questions raised in this talk can still be useful in considering what it takes to be a successful leader, a lot can change in 4 years.

Gayle Tzemach Lemmon: Women entrepreneurs, example not exception

“We aim low and we think small when it comes to women”.

Whilst this talk may not be relevant to your personal goals, it’s still interesting to consider in terms of the relationship between women and work. Here, Gayle Tzemach Lemmon considers why women – on a global scale – are not pictured as entrepreneurs, exploring the cultural and socio-economic reasons for this and what needs to be done to support female entrepreneurs in the future.

Leila Hoteit: 3 lessons on success from an Arab businesswoman

“Arab women of my generation have had to become our own role models”.

In this talk, successful Arab businesswoman Leila Hoteit talks about the struggles she has faced throughout her career and the lessons she has learned from her experiences that others can apply to their lives. Whilst she talks a lot about the balance and relationship between her family life and work, considering her two children, her advice can still apply to all women. This talk is great for anyone looking for general advice in how to be successful with their work, how to deal with facing discrimination and supporting other women around you.