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Sheryl Sandberg Says, This Is for the Little Girls Who Are Called Bossy

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It has been quite a week for Sheryl Sandberg. The cover of TIME Magazine, an appearance on The Katie Couric Show, the launch of her online community to help empower women with, a media tour that would tire out Madonna, and the release of her new book Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead. But somehow she managed—because time management is another one of her tremendous skills—to carve out some time to talk with Levo League about her book, her passions, and what her message really is.

On women’s leadership:

“Leadership is not a biological difference,” said Sandberg. “Women are uncomfortable with success and power.”

The purpose of Lean In and is to make women’s leadership an openly discussed topic, because it is still very taboo, especially in corporate America. In the first 20 years of her career, said Sandberg, the word “woman” never came up.

“No one will say the word. If you bring it up in a meeting with your male boss he thinks you are either asking for special treatment or suing him.”

Ambition has a positive connotation for men and a negative one for women. Ambition is practically synonymous with the “b word” when it comes to women, and Sandberg wants to change that.

“Women can be great leaders and they can be great managers and I just want to work with more of them,” she said.

On Marissa Mayer:

When asked about Marissa Mayer, Sandberg said, “I really think no one knows what’s going on at Yahoo, so I really can’t speak to it at all. I think the real issue that’s going on with Marissa is there are too few women in leadership roles.” She stressed that the real issue is that every move a woman in a power seat makes takes on a “grandiose importance,” because there are so few women in power seats to begin with.

On femininity in the workplace:

It’s no joke that many women feel pressure to take on more masculine qualities when they work in male-dominated environments like finance or law. Sandberg said that, in terms of women being feminine at work, we have definitely progressed. In the 1980s we saw women literally trying to dress like men by wearing big power suits with square shoulders, but now we wear dresses with floral prints and statement jewelry. The bigger issue is “not affiliating female stereotypes with a lack of leadership.”

On what success with Lean In will mean to her:

Sheryl said success of the Lean In movement will not be measured by the number of books sold or “Lean In circles,” but by seeing more women at the top, where there’s currently so much stagnation, and by children not asking whether a woman can run for president, as her seven-year-old son asked her recently.

“This is personal,” she said. “This is about me not wanting other little girls to be called bossy.”

You go, girl.


#Lean In #Sheryl Sandberg #Leadership #Powerful Women News
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I love that Sandberg says this movement's success can be measured "by children not asking whether a woman can run for president." Powerful.

I agree! It's amazing to think how young kids can be when they form certain notions about gender roles.

Carly Heitlinger
Carly Heitlinger

I love all the points she makes. I think that this initiative is so important for girls and women of all ages. We all need to be okay with success and being ourselves... and not trying to fit any "roles" that society has defined for us.

Great to see Sandberg commenting on femininity in the workplace. It's great to see that women can celebrate traits that are unique to women and still be effective and inspiring leaders.

If only we could get more of us in the South to even know who Sheryl Sandberg is. Sigh...

Bravo to her though!!

Truth! Celebrating femininity balanced with power is tricky, but shouldn't have to be.


I was totally called bossy when I was a child.

Now I'm starting to work in an industry (politics) where this issue is on my mind all the time. I'm more concerned about this than I am about recessions or the new Pope. There are to few women and, I must add, there are too many girls who don't even start to think about these issues. It drives me mad when my female class mates are more concerned about looks than about speaking up in debates... Things are tough for women who want to lead, but on top of that women sabotage themselves *and* each other.

So much work to do!

I'm definitely checking out Lean In...

I cannot wait to read her book!

It is actually amazing - the perfect mix of personal vulnerability and surprising facts that keep you engaged and interested.


Agree! She has her fair share of critics ever since she launched Lean In. Then again, they said you haven't truly achieved success unless you get a handful (or more) of critics and haters. I'm just happy Sheryl is making it possible for us to reach our full potential.

The measure of more women at the top is a good and tangible one and gives strong direction to the movement. As we each of us 'leans in', together we can 'stand strong'.

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