Monday, March 11, 2013


There was a great interview today on NPR with Sheryl Sandberg, the Chief Operating Officer of Facebook. She's talking about her new book (called "Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead") and women in the workplace. I highly recommend listening to the interview, but if you don't want to take 8 minutes to do so, here is a part that stands out to me:

"'I don't believe that everyone should make the same choices — that everyone has to want to be a CEO or everyone should want to be a work-at-home mother,' Sandberg responds. 'I want everyone to be able to choose, but I want us to be able to choose unencumbered by gender choosing for us. I have a 7-year-old son and a 5-year-old daughter. Success for me is that if my son chooses to be a stay-at-home parent, he is cheered on for that decision. And if my daughter chooses to work outside the home and is successful, she is cheered on and supported.'"
I think this is a point we often overlook as a society, and I wonder why. There's a big world out there, and so many choices, and I wonder why in 2013 there are still limiters on what we think we can or know we can do. To me, equality is important. I don't care who you are or where you came from, if you work hard, you should have the same opportunities afforded to others who work hard, if you want them.

In the case of Sheryl Sandberg, she's taken a lot of heat because of her stance on women in the workplace. She obviously has two children, and she chooses to spend quite a bit of her time working. She wants to be in a high level position, and those require time. More recently, as it relates to her book, many are up in arms about Sandberg's approach. I haven't read the book (yet), but I think those who are upset with her are missing the point. She's not saying you have to work lots of hours or fit a certain professional profile. To me, she's saying what I already think: you should have those choices if you want them.

You've also probably heard of Marissa Mayer, the CEO of Yahoo!, who has also recently come under fire for her decision to end telecommuting at her company. At first, I was appalled. Why would she want to do such a thing? Isn't that a step back? Then I read this article which explained that Mayer had good reason for making the decision - basically, people didn't seem to be working from home after all. With those kinds of facts, how do you continue a process that clearly isn't working? Now it makes more sense, and I don't think she's making a statement for all companies, except to say, "If your employees aren't working, you've got to change something."

These two women are in incredible positions of power in their workplaces, and they are making choices they feel are best for their employees. Maybe some don't agree with their lifestyles, but I guess that's the beauty of it - does it matter? These women have families. They are doing what they want to do with their lives. Some women are stay-at-home moms. Some women work part-time. Some women want to climb the corporate ladder. The thing is, whatever a woman decides as it relates to her personal and professional life, it should be up to her (and her family, if she has one) to decide.

We've got to stop tearing women down for their choices. You don't always have to agree with what someone else is doing with his or her life. I think part of this can relate to the fact that I've been on a body image kick lately, but I think it applies to all of life, and all genders and sexualities and religions and belief systems. I mean, even Queen Elizabeth is behind equal rights.

The more I think about it, the more I think Sandberg and Mayer are setting an incredible example for women who have dreams to "have it all." Maybe you can't really have it all. When I say incredible, I mean that they are showing women that they don't have to be limited to some belief of what society thinks they should be doing. Men have families and work monstrous hours in some careers - what's stopping a woman from doing the same?

I don't know where I see myself in 10 years from now, professionally or personally, but I know things I hope to have in my life. Will I "have it all"? Will I even want that? It's doubtful - I'm a bigger proponent of balance, something I think Sandberg and Mayer might be lacking despite my admiration for their determination. Right now I know I have had some incredible opportunities and I hope to have more. If you're happy and satisfied with the way you're living your life, that is what matters. If it works for you and your family, excellent. If someone you don't know doesn't like it, I'm not sure that should be an issue.

What do you think of the stances taken by Sandberg and Mayer?

1 comment:

  1. I suggested "Lean In" as a purchase for the library, I'm very excited to read it!