Sheryl Sandberg on Women, Work, and the Need to 'Lean In'



Although women are shattering glass ceilings faster than ever before, they're still woefully underrepresented at the highest levels of the corporate world.

"Women are held back by many things. We're held back by bias, by lack of flexibility, by lack of opportunity," Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg says in the new trailer for her book, "Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead" (March 2013). "We also hold ourselves back. We don't sit at the table, we don't raise our hands, we don't let our voices be loud enough."

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It's time for women to take charge of themselves, so that they can take charge of their lives. In "Lean In", Sandberg issues a call to action for women, using anecdotes from her own life story and plenty of hard data and recent research to urge them to change the dialogue from what women can't do to what they can. In the book, Sandberg encourages women to "sit at the table," take risks, and pursue their goals.

In "Lean In", Sandberg combines the life lessons she's learned along the way, offering specific steps that women can take to find professional achievement and personal fulfillment -- things like not expecting a mentor to make your career path easier, and encouraging your spouse to split the household and childcare duties 50/50. She also dispenses practical advice "to help men do their part to form a more equal world."

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"Part of what I'm hoping 'Lean In' will do is really start a conversation in every workplace, in every company, in every school, to start thinking about gender differently," Sandberg says. "I believe the world would be a better place if half our companies and half our countries were run by women, and half our homes were run by men."

The book, which hasn't hit shelves yet, has already sparked a passionate conversation about whether or not women can have it all, a topic that's been hotly debated for decades.

Sandberg's personal experiences have helped her better understand the problems that other working women face, and her career is proof positive that women can succeed both at work and at home. After graduating from Harvard College in 1991 and earning her MBA from Harvard Business School in 1995, Sandberg worked a management consultant for McKinsey & Co. before serving as Chief of Staff to then United States Secretary of the Treasury Larry Summers, who was her mentor and thesis adviser at Harvard. She joined Google in 2001 as their Vice President of Global Online Sales & Operations. Now a mother of two, she became the COO of Facebook in 2008; she also serves on the boards of the Walt Disney Company, Women for Women International, V-Day, and the Center for Global Development. Her husband, David Goldberg, is the CEO of SurveyMonkey.com.

But her success hasn't always come easily. In the book's trailer, Sandberg recalls her own workplace challenges that include missed opportunities which resulted from her not having the confidence to lean in. "I entered the workforce believing that my generation was going to have equal responsibility and equal opportunity. And it didn't work out that way," Sandberg says in the trailer.

"I think about all the moments I just didn't believe in myself. Every test I was sure I was about to fail, every job I wasn't sure I could do," she says. "It was after watching so many women quietly lean back, after watching myself quietly lean back and miss opportunities, that I started to see the pattern and started to talk about it."

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