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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg Defends ‘Lean In’

Robin Young interviews Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg at the Coolidge Corner Theatre for a discussion of her book “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead.” (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)

Robin Young interviews Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg at the Coolidge Corner Theatre for a discussion of her book “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead.” (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)

Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg‘s new book, “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead,” is number one on both the New York Times and Amazon best seller lists.

“It turns out men still run the world, and I’m not so sure that’s going so well.”

Sandberg’s non-profit of the same name is also thriving.

Sandbery has reignited a contentious debate about the role of women in the workplace and what they can do to move into leadership roles.

Here & Now’s Robin Young recently sat down with Sandberg, in front of a sold-out crowd at the Coolidge Corner Theatre in Brookline, Mass.

Sandberg says she wrote the book because she saw how women were being held back in corporate America. She notes that only 14 percent of executive officers are women – a figure that hasn’t change in 10 years.

“I’m worried about stagnation for women. It turns out men still run the world, and I’m not so sure that’s going so well,” Sandberg said, drawing a laugh from the audience.

Sheryl Sandberg book

Some people have said Sandberg should work to change the system instead of calling on women to assert themselves more.

Sandberg says we have to make changes at both levels.

She points to the Scandanavian country of Norway, which has generous government-supported maternity and paternity leaves and accessible childcare.

“They have every public policy and institutional reform we could ever argue for, and do you know how many women lead their top companies? Less than three percent,” Sandberg said.

In her book, Sandberg points to research that reveals women downplay their own accomplishments and largely attribute their own success to “working hard, help from others, and luck,” while men attribute success to “core skills.”

Beyond the systematic problem, Sandberg says that women bear their own responsibility when it comes to being successful. They need to be assertive, ambitious and more self-confident. Otherwise, she says, women are holding themselves back.

What do you think of Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In” philosophy? Join the debate on Facebook.


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Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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