Sandberg to women: 'aim high, believe in yourselves'

Facebook chief operating officer exhorts Stanford audience to end gender stereotypes

Author and Facebook Chief Operating Office Sheryl Sandberg exhorted a Stanford audience Tuesday to stand up and do the "hard work" of ending gender stereotypes.

Sandberg, whose book, "Lean In," tops the New York Times hardcover bestseller list, told the mostly female crowd to "believe in yourselves, aim high and understand that you can lead."

Men, she said, should be encouraged to be more nurturing and take greater responsibility for household duties.

"The blunt truth is, men still run the world, unequivocally," Sandberg said, citing statistics on the dearth of women in senior political and corporate leadership around the globe.

"I believe (women) have internalized these stereotypes, and they're holding us back and I don't feel like anybody's talking about it.

"We need an open dialogue about what's holding women back."

Sandberg urged people to form "lean in circles" -- groups of eight to ten women and men who meet monthly, like book clubs, to trade stories, discuss educational topics posted on and push one another to achieve goals.

"Working in the home, raising kids, is really important work," she said.

But she said women tend to sabotage their own careers prematurely by compromising their ambition even before they have children.

"I'm not saying it's easy to do both (career and child raising) or that this is the right choice for everyone," she said.

"I'm saying that the best thing women can do, and men, is to keep options open … and make the choices when you have to make them, not years before."

As recently as a few years ago, Sandberg said she did not think of herself as a feminist.

But as a top manager at Facebook and Google over the past decade she began noticing tendencies among the people working for her: men continually pushed for promotions, saying they could do more and women -- including Stanford graduates -- tended to be more hesitant and less sure they were "ready."

After going public with that observation in a 2010 TED talk, she was flooded with emails from women who said they'd been inspired by her talk to step up and successfully argue for something -- a raise, a better teacher for their child.

"That's why I did this (book)," she said. "I think the conversation needs to continue."

Research shows that, compared to men, women in many instances do not feel as self-confident, and "self-confidence is a major determinant of what we can do," Sandberg said.

Even as a senior executive, she herself has to work to "correct for" her own tendency to be less confident than male peers.

"I just wrote an entire book about women having more self-confidence -- for two years -- and this still happens to me," she said.

If stereotypes -- such as ambitious women being labeled as "too aggressive" -- are discussed openly people will be aware of them and can pro-actively "correct" for them," she said.

"We think if we bring women and men together around gender issues, provide education, skills and tools and give people in-person and online support from circle members who can be peer mentors, we can change things one by one by one," she said.

Sandberg's talk was the third annual Jing Lyman Lecture sponsored by Stanford's Michelle R. Clayman Institute for Gender Research.

Lyman, the widow of Richard Lyman, who was president of Stanford from 1970 to 1980, "connected, fueled and inspired the women's movement at Stanford from the 1960s onward," said sociologist and Clayman Institute Director Shelley J. Correll.

Tickets to Sandberg's free talk, set in Stanford's 587-seat Cemex Auditorium, were gone within three minutes of when they became available on the web at 9 a.m. on March 17, Clayman Institute staff members said.


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Posted by Wo\'O Ideafarm
a resident of another community
on Apr 4, 2013 at 6:40 am

Wo\'O Ideafarm is a registered user.

I agree that the we should be talking, and listening, to each other. But in my experience, on this subject, females want to do all of the talking and none of the listening. It would please me to be proved wrong here; let's see. Here are some conservative ideas to start the conversation:

(1) Males and females differ in ways that are significant, due both to nature and to nurture. This is due to gender specialization that is the result of an evolutionary choice to exploit a design in which males and females complement one another in male-female couples. This "architecture" is optimal and is not going to change; it is a given.

(2) Because of (1), strongly typed gender roles are optimal. Gender roles are the result of, not the cause of, the differences.

(3) In the developed world, the corporate work environment has become unisexed as the result of government meddling. Within that environment, many roles can be done equally well by males and by females. But the appearance within such environments that males and females are interchangeable and that gender is not an important predictor of success in a particular role is misleading; it is an artifact of the meddling. Outside of these meddled (and muddled) environments, equilibrium results in strongly gender typed work roles, i.e. "man's work" and "women's work".

(4) Even when the work role is such that a female and a male might be equally situated for success, in terms of basic abilities such as intelligence, "people skill", and greed, males and females differ in important ways. It's often more about whether she WOULD than whether she COULD.

(5) Because of the above, I am convinced that gender stereotypes are here to stay because (a) gender roles are needed and (2) gender roles reflect underlying immutable differences. Liberty and justice and economic empowerment for females is a real issue and deserves real attention and lasting progress. IMO, the path to lasting progress is to promote unselfishness, i.e. to work for a moral transformation. Rather than destroy strongly typed gender roles that have withstood the test of time over millions of generations, we should focus on making them work.

Here are two signs that I have used to concisely express my views on gender and sexuality:



Thank you for reading all of this. Let's focus here on listening to each other. No ad hominem attacks, please. Both viewpoints on this issue are reasonable, and people who are intelligent and share the same basic values of liberty and justice for all (including females) can disagree.

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Posted by BvP
a resident of another community
on Apr 4, 2013 at 8:38 am

"...and people who are intelligent and share the same basic values of liberty and justice for all (including females) can disagree."

The "including females" portion speaks volumes about the mentality of the above poster.

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Posted by Wo/O'sRhetoric
a resident of another community
on Apr 4, 2013 at 1:44 pm

Correct me if I'm wrong here, Wo'O, but it seems to me that you constantly call for people to listen to one another and to share their honest opinions in this forum, which might be described as a marketplace of ideas.

Yet, when people express that they disagree your views on gender norms, you seem to always respond by saying that their views are wrong. And if even more people come out in support of views contrary to what you hold true, you chalk it up to the "tyranny of the majority."

If you are a libertarian, as you have said you are, I feel you ought to be willing to accept that when the people participating in a given market overwhelmingly support one type of product, or viewpoint, over another, then that product or viewpoint has won -- fair and square.

Food for thought...

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Posted by juniperk
a resident of Gemello
on Apr 4, 2013 at 3:57 pm

I know how her husband feels now. He is probably the one wearing the tampons in her household. LOL

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Posted by Wo\'O Ideafarm
a resident of another community
on Apr 4, 2013 at 8:14 pm

Wo\'O Ideafarm is a registered user.

>> The "including females" portion speaks volumes

This is an ad hominem attack. Please, everyone please refrain from ad hominem attacks. I specifically included females to make my position clear. Be aware of defamatory insinuations such as the one above, especially when they are posted in a cowardly way by someone hiding behind anonymity.

>> ought to be willing to accept that when the people... overwhelmingly support one... viewpoint... then that... viewpoint has won...

When the civic conversation is vigorous, respectful, and open to all viewpoints, you will never see a single viewpoint "overwhelm" opposing viewpoints. The opposing viewpoints will always continue to be on the table, available to anyone who wants to debate them afresh. OTOH, in a mob, the dominant viewpoint will be the only viewpoint available. In a mob, anyone who challenges the mob viewpoint is shunned, defamed, and silenced. Uniformity of thought is ALWAYS an indicator of thought control.

Let us not debate the issue here. Instead, let us just listen to each other. I would like to read a post by someone who disagrees with the conservative view and can state why, without personal attacks, without insinuations, without name calling (e.g. "he must be a mysogynist"), and without simply going off in a huff and boycotting our conversation.

If someone thinks that my viewpoint is wrong, tell us why! Don't be shy. Don't worry about how I'll respond. I won't eat you, and I won't even debate it here with you unless it is clear that you want me to. I just want to become familiar with how people are thinking on this issue.

>> He is probably the one wearing the tampons

That would be extremely painful. (smile) Although this is posted in support of my viewpoint, and it is funny, it is an ad hominem attack on Ms. Sandberg's husband. Please, if we are to compete at all, let's compete by showing "them" even more respect and good will than they manage to show "us". Intelligent people filled with good will can disagree. We have a disagreement here because there are two radically different paradigms that people are using like glasses to view reality.

I will try to keep quiet now, except to respond to name calling, defamatory insinuations, and other ad hominem attacks. Please post your thoughts in opposition to mine, or in support of them.

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Posted by BvP
a resident of another community
on Apr 5, 2013 at 9:13 am


Given your history, you are the last person to talk about acting cowardly.

Do you want my full name, address and phone number as well? As far as I am concerned, a person posting using their real name is just as anonymous as someone who uses an alias because I most likely don't know them. It doesn't matter who the person is. I wonder why you are so eager to know everyone's identity.

As for my comment, it is more of a response to your post than an attack on you. Your position on the role of women is very clear from those two words. Simply because it implies that women were to be excluded from the discussion. Otherwise, there is no need for your "including women" comment. That much is obvious.

While I am at it, your views on gender and sexuality seem to be outdated.

A WOMAN'S PLACE IS IN THE VILLAGE used to be written as "A woman's place is in the kitchen barefoot and pregnant".

A MAN'S PLACE IS TO BE HUNTED AND TO HUNT...not sure what that is about. Maybe some sort of attempt at machismo.

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Posted by Thanks Mom
a resident of Monta Loma
on Apr 5, 2013 at 4:57 pm

I don't know about you, but I'm sure glad my Mom raised me, rather than some school. I'm glad she took the time and patience to help me with my homework when I needed help. No one understands you better than your mom. I'm sure glad she did not have to work and not have time for me. Thank you mom and dad. Once we were older and able to hand ourselves mom found work. But all that was a long time ago in an era long gone. Or is it. Why must we have to keep up with the jones, just because they have 2 incomes?

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Posted by Wo\'O Ideafarm
a resident of another community
on Apr 5, 2013 at 8:29 pm

Wo\'O Ideafarm is a registered user.

I was also raised by an at-home mother and a businessman father who was at home on time every day for our family meal together at 6 PM. Of any culture, I think that the Muslims understand most clearly how important the mother is. The mother is responsible for at least 80% of bringing up a child properly, for forming that child into a good, strong, adult man or woman. The father provides what is needed for this and for everything else that the mother/wife does to transform space, food, and supplies into a warm, loving, and nurturing home that teaches the child the meaning of love, that motivates and inspires the child, and that fills the father with a passionate desire to provide for and to protect his wife and his children.

There is a need for progress, for more liberty and more justice, both for men and for women, and I agree with feminists that the need is more pressing for women. IMO, the feminists are right about the problem, but dead wrong about the solution.

BvP, I want people who disagree with me, in part or in full, to participate in this conversation. Please stop putting (negative) words into my mouth. Please don't say anything else about me at all. This conversation is not about me. It is about ideas. I will not provide more information about my own views here. I've said enough; I want to hear what others think about Sandberg's message. (BTW, I agree with much of what she is reported above to have said and am glad that she wrote the book and got us conversing.)

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Posted by Wo\'O Ideafarm
a resident of another community
on Apr 6, 2013 at 9:02 am

Wo\'O Ideafarm is a registered user.

No meaningful dialog, no listening and responding, is occurring here. I've seen the same inability to converse over and over, both in the Voice's forums and in online forums elsewhere. IMO, today's urban population is utterly incapable of self government. A population that cannot and does not vigorously and respectfully discuss, dissect, and debate the issues of the day has no business directing the coercive force of the state to tamper with the fundamental patterns of gender and sexuality that are arguably the foundation for human society.

This is not a criticism of you. It is a criticism of the social system into which you were born. It is a criticism of your upbringing by the State rather than by an at home mother who was a good strong woman and a provider father who was a good strong man. You are all fully capable of what self government demands of each and every citizen. But you must break the cycle. Your child is more important than that luxury automobile, that trip to Hawaii, that large house filled with junk that you do not need or even have time to use.


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Posted by Wo\'O Ideafarm
a resident of another community
on Apr 7, 2013 at 8:08 am

Wo\'O Ideafarm is a registered user.


Please join me for a "Civics 101 exercise". Let's have a proper conversation, the kind of respectful and vigorous conversation that our system of self government requires that we be able to have. No ad hominem attacks. No name calling or labeling. Just respectful dialog with everyone focused on listening rather than being listened to.

I've given you all a "conversation opener" that has two parts. (See above.)

If someone posts a response such as, "What do you think 'the problem' is?", we could spend some time verifying that, or exploring whether, most of us can agree on what the problem is and that it is worthy of us doing something to solve it. I think that we would find that there is broad consensus on what the problem is. This discovery would help us to see that we are united by our desire to solve this problem.

I would state the problem as follows: Make life better for every human being worldwide by promoting justice and liberty for all and especially for people who are currently deprived of even minimal justice and liberty, particularly females.

Once we discover that we are united in the problem that we care about, and that our disagreement is only about which approach to take in solving the problem, it will be much easier for us to listen to each other, learn from each other, and find consensus regarding how to work for significant and lasting progress.

Please join with me in conversation before this discussion is delisted. If that happens, send an email to me and we can discuss it either via email or at Web Link .

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Posted by BvP
a resident of another community
on Apr 8, 2013 at 9:04 am

"Please don't say anything else about me at all."

I don't have a problem with that, but...

"This is not a criticism of you. It is a criticism of the social system into which you were born. It is a criticism of your upbringing by the State rather than by an at home mother who was a good strong woman and a provider father who was a good strong man."

You do this constantly. You judge people, you criticize their upbringing, you criticize society, everyone has a problem...except you. When you offer criticism of others, you must also be willing to accept criticism of yourself.

Although you invite criticism with your arrogance, I will make every effort to make this my last post directed towards you. I will leave you with one thought: perhaps you are misinterpreting the "inability to converse" with "disinterest to converse with you."

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Posted by Wo\'O Ideafarm
a resident of another community
on Apr 8, 2013 at 9:29 am

Wo\'O Ideafarm is a registered user.

Your entire post is about me. Since no one is interested in conversing about Sandberg's ideas, I will respond to you. At least you are conversing.

My flaws should be of no interest to the community. I am a civic speaker. The ideas that I express either have merit or they do not. My objective is to get people "wholesomely connected" with each other, primarily by getting the issues that divide us out into the open. When a divisive issue is out in the open, it loses much of its divisive power. When I succeed in getting people with different views to listen to each other respectfully and to learn from each other, the issue loses ALL of its power to divide.

If I was running for office, or if I was planning to invite people to accept me as some kind of leader, then my flaws might be of public interest. But I am not, and will never be, running for office. The organic document for IdeaFarm (tm) Operations prohibits this. That document bars me for life from serving in any official capacity within any territorial government.

Think of me as a teacher and as a morals preacher. A true teacher works to stimulate critical thinking and intellectual engagement, and the promotion of viewpoints is secondary. A true morals preacher never forgets that he is a sinner, that he is not worthy of his message to others, and that he does not stand on any moral pinnacle looking down at his audience. On the contrary, preaching morals is itself a morally hazardous activity, and those of us who are drawn into preaching are often, as in my case, more despicable than average!

So, stop focusing on me. I am not of interest. The topic for conversation that Ms. Sandberg raises is of great interest, and if no one here is willing to discuss it, then the fault lies with you all, not with Ms. Sandberg, and not with me.

Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Castro City

on Jan 15, 2017 at 11:04 am

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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