Sheryl Sandberg is at ease in the heights of American power at 44 years old: She has a Harvard MBA, was secretary of the treasury and chief of staff, was a vice president at Google, and has been Facebook’s head of operations since 2008.
Once chastised for not monetizing fast enough, Facebook is now turning a profit. Sandberg, who is now one of the country’s youngest billionaires, has an obscene amount of money.
In addition to her many business successes, she has become an advocate for gender equality. “Lean In” is not only the best-selling business book of the last ten years, but it has also spawned a movement.
Here’s the author-executive in her own words.
On Her Vision of Success
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.
On the Glass Ceiling
We’ve ceased making progress at the top in any industry anywhere in the world … In the United States, women have had 14% of the top corporate jobs and 17% of the board seats for 10 years. Ten years of no progress.
In those same 10 years, women are getting more and more of the graduate degrees, more and more of the undergraduate degrees, and it’s translating into more women in entry-level jobs, even more women in lower-level management. But there’s absolutely been no progress at the top. You can’t explain away 10 years. Ten years of no progress is no progress.
On Tech’s Diversity Problem
Endless data show that diverse teams make better decisions. We are building products that people with very diverse backgrounds use, and I think we all want our company makeup to reflect the makeup of the people who use our products. That’s not true of any industry really, and we have a long way to go.
On Why Marriage is a Career Decision
Everyone knows that marriage is the biggest personal decision you make, but it’s the biggest career decision you can make.
Partner with the right person, because you cannot have a full career and a full life at home with the children if you are also doing all the housework and childcare.
Leadership is not bullying and leadership is not aggression. Leadership is the expectation that you can use your voice for good. That you can make the world a better place.
If you’re offered a seat on a rocket ship, don’t ask what seat.
I spent most of my career, including my time at McKinsey, never acknowledging that I was a woman. And, you know, fast forward—I’m 43 now—fitting in is not helping us.
On Changing Standards
I think now is our time. My mother was told by everyone that she had two choices: She could be a nurse or a teacher. The external barriers now are just so much lower. If we start acknowledging what the real issues are, we can solve them. It’s not that hard.
On Shaping Her Schedule
You know, there has never been a 24-hour period in five years when I have not responded to an e-mail at Facebook. I am not saying it’s easy. I work long hours.
I am saying that I was able to mold those hours around the needs of my family and that matters. And I really encourage other people at Facebook to mold hours around themselves.
When it comes time to settle down, find someone who wants an equal partner. Someone who thinks women should be smart, opinionated, and ambitious.
Someone who values fairness and expects or, even better, wants to do his share in the home. These men exist and, trust me, over time, nothing is sexier.
On the Arc of Your Career
Careers are a jungle gym, not a ladder.
On Being Held Back
The things that hold women back, hold them back from sitting at the boardroom table and they hold women back from speaking at the PTA meeting.
On Why She Joined Facebook
I just believed. I believed that technology would change people’s lives. I believed putting real identity online — putting technology behind real identity — was the missing link.
I’d worked on leprosy and malaria in India [at the World Bank] and asked myself the question: Why do we let 2 million children die every year around the world for not having clean water? Because they’re faceless and nameless. So, for me, Facebook looked like it was going to solve the problem of the invisible victim.
On Being ‘Aggressive’
Every woman I know, particularly the senior ones, has been called too aggressive at work. We know in gender-blind studies that men are more aggressive in their offices than women. We know that. Yet we’re busy telling all the women that they’re too aggressive. That’s the issue.
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