If you are like me you might be wondering, “Who is Sheryl Sandberg, and why has she been in the news lately?” I have seen her on TV, March 18th’s cover of TIME Magazine, and in April’s edition of O, The Oprah Magazine, so I did a little research to see what it is that Mrs. Sandberg has been doing to make headlines. In honor of Women’s History Month, I would like to share with you what I found about the 10th most powerful woman in the world (Forbes) and her message. And it’s not just for women – men can benefit from her message too!
A little background of Sandberg:
- She has been the COO of Facebook since 2008
- She was Vice President of Global Online Sales & Operations of Google, Inc. from 2001-200
- She has two children
- She recently published a book, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead
Sheryl Sandberg is not someone who is saying that women do not have the same rights as men. Instead, she points out that women are viewed differently than men, and this can result in women taking on less-taxing jobs and smaller salaries. Sandberg explains that from a young age, girls are expected to be more reserved and modest, and boys are allowed to be more aggressive, and this stereotype sticks with men and women throughout their lives. She even points out a study that shows that men and women view more successful women as less likeable. This could be because the aggressive behavior necessary to land high-end management jobs and higher pay could be seen as “wrong” since women are expected to be more reserved and modest. Sandberg wants to change this stereotype. She encourages women to set their heights high and feel OK with being aggressive, taking on management jobs, and negotiating higher pay.
Sandberg also wants to change the expectation that women have to be the primary care-takers of their children. Sandberg wants men to be viewed as parents sharing the same responsibility in child care or holding the same possibility of being the primary child-care parent so that women set their sights higher in the workplace. Even though the expectation that women should be the primary care-takers of their children has changed drastically over the last few decades, Sandberg points out that many women still make career decisions early in their lives based on the possibility of having children before they even know if they are going to have children. Women are taking on less-taxing jobs and not setting their heights as high as they should be because of the possibility of having to leave that job someday to take care of their children. Sheryl suggests instead that women dream big and do big and not even start to consider holding back on their career until a child is on the way – and even then, they should not leave their jobs unless it is what they really want. Sandberg wants women to know that it is OK to keep their jobs after they have children. Sandberg wants women to fight their hardest for rewarding jobs so that they are not miserable if they have to leave their kids during the day to go to their jobs.
To read and listen to more of Sheryl’s ideas about women succeeding in the work force, visit these links:
TIME Magazine, March 18th, 2013:
- “Confidence Woman” – cover story about Sheryl Sandberg
- “Why I Want Women to Lean In” – written by Sheryl Sandberg
- “The Pay Gap Is Not as Bad as You (and Sheryl Sandberg) Think” – article about the differences in pay between men and women
- Complete Coverage on Sheryl Sandberg – list of articles about Sheryl Sandberg, women, and the workplace
TED Talk video from 2010: