On girls, parenting and 'Me too' | January 31, 2018 | Almanac | Almanac Online |


Cover Story - January 31, 2018

On girls, parenting and 'Me too'

by Barbara Wood

"I would be remiss if I didn't talk a little bit about girls," Sheryl Sandberg told her audience in Menlo Park on Jan. 17.

"It turns out the world is still being run by men. It's really not going well," she said to laughter and applause. "We need to do better."

One thing that needs to change is the expectation that only boys will be leaders, she said.

"Never say the word bossy," she said. "Your daughter's not bossy, she has executive leadership skills," she said to loud laughter.

That line, Ms. Sandberg said, has gotten laughs all over the world. But when she says it and substitutes "son" for "daughter," no one laughs.

"Humor is against expectations," she said, and none of us expects girls to lead.

"We really need our daughters to lead along with our sons," she said.


"One of the misinterpretations of me that I always really hate," Ms. Sandberg said, is that her book "Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead" was "telling women that they need to work outside the home."

"I believe deeply that the work of raising kids is as important, harder, than any other," she said. "I think it's so important that men should do it, too," she said.

"We'd be a better society if the percentage of parents working inside the home was not 4 percent men," she said, but instead if half the countries, half the companies and half the homes were run by men and half by women.

'Me too'

"We need systemic change, and that means institutional change," Ms. Sandberg said in response to a question about how the momentum of the "Me too" movement can be sustained.

"The thing I'm really worried about," she said, "is this is going to hurt mentoring for women," Ms. Sandberg said.

"If the backlash to this is men are afraid to talk with women alone, then the pretty abysmal promotion rate women now have" is going to go down even further, she said.

Instead, all managers need to follow the same guidelines for men and women. If women aren't taken on business trips, men shouldn't be either. If an executive is uncomfortable taking a junior woman to dinner, then take junior men and women to only breakfast or lunch, Ms. Sandberg said.

"Access needs to be equal," she said.


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