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March 19th, 2013
12:14 PM ET

Facebook COO Sandberg rejects 'likeability penalty' for women in workplace

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg says women need to be called to action. She's got a new book called "Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead." And it takes a hard look at what is holding women back from leadership roles in the workplace. It sparked lots of debate.

Soledad recently sat down with Sandberg to ask her about some of the obstacles women face when getting ahead in their careers, including likability. Read more after the jump.

Women are held back by lots of things. Women are held back by institutional barriers, lack of flexibility, terrible public policy. Our country trails most others, sexism, discrimination. But we're also held back by things that exist within us. You know, we are taught as children that girls behave one way, and boys behave another.

I want the likability penalty to go away for women. I think the way it goes away, is if you get more female leaders, because we assume men will lead and women will nurture, because it turns out 86 percent of the men are leading. The leaders are men and women are nurturing. If we can change those numbers, we change it I don't want to tell women to be relentlessly pleasant and I don't want to tell women you don't need to use "we" in negotiation instead of "I."

The cards are stacked against women and I'm clear on that in the book. What "Lean In" is trying to do is open people's eyes to the way cards are stacked. If we stop calling our little girls bossy. If when we say bossy, we say my daughter has executive leadership skills, we're going to stop telling women in the workforce that they are too aggressive, when they do things that men do all the time. It's not that every behavior a woman does is fine. And I'm not telling women to be like men. I'm telling us to evaluate what men and women do in the workforce and at home, without that gender bias.

Men get to be both successful and likable. Powerful and likable. Women have to pick. We can change that if we change the numbers. We're holding people to stereotypes. If more women start leading, that will become part of our understanding of women. I said publicly, I cry at work. It's not a best practice. I'm not suggesting if you want to get promoted today, go sob to your boss. But it's happened to me, and I've admitted it publicly because I know it's happening to other women, and I don't want the to spend the two weeks worrying about it like I did.

I don't know exactly what happened Iahoo!. I haven't seen statements from her. I don't thin anyone quite knows. I think she's proving the point that there are too few female leaders. Try to stereotype of extrapolate from a male leader to all men CEOs. Not possible. There are so many. So, men are allowed to be individuals. Women need that freedom to be individuals as well.

I really love my job and really love being a parent. I love being a parent. I'm not running for office. I don't know how many times to say that, but, no, look, I love my job. I would like to always have the following: I would like to always make sure I'm doing something I believe in. I really believe in Facebook, I will work there if I believe in it, work here, here in the office, if I believe in it. I really believe in "Lean In." I'm passionate about doing this and I'm a really passionate mother. I love being with my kids. I don't do it all perfectly as a mother. I don't think we ever quite know what we're doing. I feel guilty sometimes, but I love my time with my children.

Filed under: Lean In • Women in workplace
soundoff (4 Responses)
  1. Xib

    2nd wave feminism...Misandry...the hungry, filthy and greedy beast gorging herself on better culture. We need to wrench that beast away from the liberal leash and beat it to a pulp.

    More people were married and stayed married prior to 2nd wave feminism. More fathers were involved and stayed in the home just a couple generations back. Divorce, single parenthood, personal and national debt, have all been on the rise since women began to seek "empowerment". Selfish, greedy, 60's bra-burners fouled many of our women and are ruining our culture.

    The sad thing is that liberals and feminists want you to believe that everything pre 2nd wave feminism was rotten so you should throw out all the beliefs, traditions, and ideals that came about pre 2nd wave, i.e., that tired old crap about the 1950's being an unhappy jail for everyone, etc. It's a sad, foul, liberal lie teaching you to throw out the baby with the bath water.

    Reject the false enlightenment offered by liberals...and you'll live a healthier, solid life robust in stability, contentment, and enriched in happiness.

    Fathers are important, just as important as mothers. Men, reject liberal women and seek socially conservative, fiscally responsible women that have actual self-respect and project femininity...find a woman that can honestly say she needs a man, that she needs you, and stay with her.

    The world will be a brighter place the more we reject liberals and their ideals on all fronts through our words and deeds.

    March 29, 2013 at 7:09 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Saraswati

    The piece on Sandburg was barely civil. Soledad could barely contain herself from mocking. Ending the piece with an accusation that Sanburg is really interested in politics completely defeated the whole point of the piece. Congrats CNN for perpetuating the myth!

    March 23, 2013 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  3. guy cunningham

    I think the real question is whether or not unlikable people, female or male, should be rewarded for their rudeness and greed. Yes, they get money and power if they win, but why should many of us "admire" and honor them. The most aggressive win in the short run, but if the "weak" rest of us don't defer to them we'd be better off. This is not about "strong women" , but simply the fact that if likablity is undesirable, then we have truly created one hell of a world.

    March 19, 2013 at 8:03 pm | Report abuse | Reply

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