Gloria Steinem gives thumbs up to Sheryl Sandberg’s ‘Lean In’

Today, in response to the massive criticism from feminists and others that Facebook exec Sheryl Sandberg is too privileged to give career advice to women, Gloria Steinem posts on her Facebook page:

Having read “Lean In” by Sheryl Sandberg, I can testify that it addresses internalized oppression, opposes the external barriers that create it, and urges women to support each other to fight both. It argues not only for women’s equality in the workplace, but men’s equality in home-care and child-rearing. Even its critics are making a deep if inadvertent point: Only in women is success viewed as a barrier to giving advice.




YAY Gloria. I fucking love Gloria Steinem.

I haven’t read “Lean In” yet, and I don’t know much about Sandberg, but the vitriol directed at her has rubbed me the wrong way. Maybe Sandberg’s advice won’t apply to you, won’t help you, and won’t affect you, but maybe, it will. Here’s a woman who is writing a book telling you how she got to the top, what it looks like up there, and what her advice to you would be. Not many women get that vantage point, not to mention write about it. Maybe the negative reaction to Sandberg’s book is part of the reason why. This book is based on her experience. Maybe she sounds a little controlling in her directions about how you should apply it to your life. But you’re a big girl. Use your discretion.


If your fear is that, as I’ve read, that companies, elected officials, whomever, will quote Sandberg to prove the problem here is all women’s fault, and not institutionalized sexism, they might. People often misuse information and take quotes out of context to further their own purpose. Do you think any writer would be able to write anything if she had to analyze all of the ways that someone might manipulate and misuse her information? If Sheryl Sandberg had to do that, she’d never write a book. No one would.

I will be buying “Lean In” and after I read it, I’ll let you know what I think. I hope you do the same.


The New York Times and The Washington Post quoted Sheryl Sandberg out of context, making her look like a spoiled brat. The New York Times printed a correction. The Washington Post has not.

The quote, printed in both publications and then all around the web, has Sandberg saying: “I always thought I would run a social movement.”

Obnoxious, right? The woman who has everything now wants a social movement as her new toy. How pretentious and demeaning of the little people can you get? What a bitch.

The Washington Post piece is headlined:

Sheryl Sandberg’s ‘Lean In’ campaign holds little for most women

Here’s the lede:

”She had it all — a husband, children, a beautiful home, a seat on the board of a billion-dollar company, a nine-figure net worth of her own. But there was one thing Sheryl Sandberg didn’t have. “I always thought I would run a social movement,” Sandberg said in the PBS/AOL documentary series “Makers.”


While checking the links for the blog above, I noticed a correction had been added to the two (Jodi Kanor’s and Maureen Dowd’s) NYT pieces. Here it is.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: February 26, 2013

An article on Friday about efforts by Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer of Facebook, to start a national discussion and movement to help women excel in the workplace quoted incompletely from an interview she gave for “Makers,” a new documentary on feminist history. In a video excerpt, which accompanied the article online, she said: “I always thought I would run a social movement, which meant basically work at a nonprofit. I never thought I’d work in the corporate sector.” She did not merely say, “I always thought I would run a social movement.” Maureen Dowd’s column on Sunday, about Ms. Sandberg’s plans, repeated the incomplete quotation from the news article. The article also referred imprecisely to the location of a book party planned for Ms. Sandberg. While Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg will host the party, he will do so at the offices of the Bloomberg Foundation, on East 78th Street — not at his private residence a block away.

Ah, Sandberg wasn’t saying she wants a new toy. When she was being interviewed about her career, she explained that she always thought that she would work at a non-profit and not in the private sector.

Still, apparently, the Washington Post feels no need to make a correction to the article.

It’s ironic that feminists and social activists are so concerned that quotes from Sandberg‘s book will be misused and pulled out of context, yet that’s just what they’re doing all over the internet to Sandberg.


Sheryl Sandberg on the ‘ambition gap’

At the World Economic Conference in Davos, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg spoke on a panel about women in leadership. Did she speak about business strategies, quotas versus merit, politics, reproductive rights? No. Sandberg spoke about female ambition and how girls’ aspirations are blunted at an early age. She spoke about the ‘ambition gap.” She said that “we don’t raise our daughters to be as ambitious as our sons…Little girls are called ‘bossy’… Go find someone and watch them call a little boy bossy.” Sandberg talks about T shirts sold to kids that either read: “I’m smart like my dad” or “I’m pretty like my mom.”

The focus of Sandberg’s speech was the same topics I blog about every day on Reel Girl. Topics that many readers of my blog on SFGate repeatedly call trivial.

Sandberg says that a major obstacle to women’s achievement is that success and likeability are positively correlated for men but negatively correlated for women. I honestly believe this duality/ stereotype is fueled in the fantasy world where kids so rarely see heroines who are powerful and beautiful; smart and kind.

Sandberg says, “From early childhood through marriage we reward men for being leaders, taking risks, being competitive. We teach women as young as four to lay back, be communal. We need our boys to be as ambitious to contribute in the home and we need our girls to be as ambitious to achieve in the workforce.”

Watch Sandberg’s speech here. A great analysis of this speech is also Samatha Ettus’s piece in Forbes.