"Lean In" is the most visible manifestation of a years-long effort by Sheryl Sandberg to bring attention to a decade-long slog for women in top-management in the USA.
Sheryl Sandberg helped build Facebook into a multibillion-dollar company. Now, she wants to build a new women's movement.
Little did she know that the launch of her book -- Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead -- would so swiftly ignite a national dialogue about women in the workplace, while drawing fire from critics who see her as naive and disconnected from reality.
In her only interview with a newspaper, conducted at Facebook's sprawling campus in Silicon Valley, Sandberg doesn't shy away from the fight. The book that she describes as "sort of a feminist manifesto" has been fodder for weeks now, even before its March 11 launch. Indeed, a 60 Minutes profile will air Sunday night, a segment on ABC's Good Morning America is scheduled for Monday, and Sandberg appears on the cover of Time.
The book, though dotted with career advice, details why American business largely remains a man's game, and what women -- and men -- can do to change that mindset. She details the insults and points the finger back at a culture that she says still doesn't fully comprehend the hurdles women face.
"I welcome a reaction," Sandberg says. "If nothing was said, that would be disappointing. The point is to create a dialogue."
If that means blowback from men and women uneasy about taking on the issues of gender equality in the workplace, so be it, she says. Most of the criticism leveled at the 43-year-old mother of two centers on the decades-old debate over whether working women can "have it all" -- a career and family.
That is likely to help sell her book, which already has a first printing of 400,000. And in aligning herself with a cross section of influential women such as Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., feminist Gloria Steinem and tech CEOs, perhaps she can make progress on an issue that she says is a societal afterthought.
Her mission transcends equal rights; she makes an economic argument, too. "We should use the talents of the full population," says the happily married Sandberg, who once said she leaves work at 5:30 to go home to see her kids.
Lean In is the most visible manifestation of a years-long effort by Sandberg to bring attention to a decade-long slog for women in top-management in the USA. In the PR ramp-up to her book ("It is the only one I will ever write," she jokes.), she has coordinated the launch of a website, leanin.org, and a think tank at nearby Stanford University to spread the word.
The gambit might also signal the passing of a generational torch to a top-ranking executive at one of the most well-known companies in the world. Cultural trailblazer Betty Friedan wrote The Feminine Mystique as a housewife 50 years ago.
Sandberg, who has earned the respect and admiration of her peers in Silicon Valley for her candor, is especially direct about the state of American women in upper management: She says it is desultory.
"The blunt truth is that men still run the world," says Sandberg, whose slim tome (240 pages) doesn't so much highlight one of America's most powerful tech executives as it tackles head-on the challenges women face in the workplace.
"Ten years of no progress is a stall," says Facebook's chief operating officer and No. 2 executive after CEO Mark Zuckerberg. "We need a new dialogue on gender."
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SOURCE: USA Today