Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

Sheryl Sandberg: “I Have Never Worked for a Woman”

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg is famously outspoken about women and their ambition gap. Today in Portland, she delivered an extended version of her stump speech on the topic, as a keynote at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing.

One thing Sandberg said today stood out to me: “I have never worked for a woman, and I have never worked with a lot of women.”

I guess that’s not hard to believe when you look at Sandberg’s upper-echelon-heavy resume of Facebook, Google, the U.S. Treasury Department, McKinsey & Company and the World Bank. But it’s still kind of a stunner.

Here are some of Sandberg’s other key points:

Technology is a growth industry, so it’s a good one to join. When Sandberg was thinking she wouldn’t accept an offer to be Google’s general manager, Eric Schmidt told her, “Stop being an idiot; all that matters is growth.” She says that’s the best advice she ever got.

“I would be better at my job if I were technical,” Sandberg told the technical audience, saying she had doubts about addressing them for that reason. (She didn’t need to worry, the talk was very well received.)

Sandberg spoke of the importance of women setting an example by believing in themselves. “It’s easy to dislike the few senior women out there,” she said, referencing backlash she herself has gotten. “What if women were half the positions in power? It would be harder to dislike all of them.”

She added, “The main reason women don’t go into computer science turns out to be women don’t go into computer science.”

As in previous talks, Sandberg emphasized the value (in a heterosexual household) of making sure the man is equally responsible for domestic work. She also told women not to “leave before they leave”; that is, not to self-impose caps on their careers because they are planning to have kids.

“When you’re more valuable, the people around you will do more to make it work,” she told women, referencing Facebook’s flexible hours.

Lastly, Sandberg encouraged women to speak out like she has — saying it wasn’t until recently that she felt comfortable in her career to use it as a platform for these talks. “I stand up here as an old woman,” the 42-year-old Sandberg told the student-heavy audience. “My generation is not going to change this.”

Please see the disclosure about Facebook in my ethics statement.


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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald