Facebook's Chief Operations Officer on Why the Battle for Gender Equality is Not Over

Sheryl Sandberg is one of the most ambitious and successful people in business today. Since 2012 she has been serving as the Chief Operations Officer for Facebook, with previous experience as the chief of staff for the U.S. Treasury and a VP position at Google. 

In 2010, she gave a (relatively) brief TED Talk entitled “Why We Have too Few Women Speakers,” which was less about “why” and more about what women can do to help themselves. In my view, her message was that if companies aren’t putting in enough effort, then it’s up to women to help be a part of the change.

The statistics she gave are regrettably without sourcing (an unfortunate characteristic of speeches), but let’s take a look at some more recent figures. A July 2014 Fortune article reports the number of female CEOs in Fortune 500 companies at just 24, a number that incredibly represents a record high! Even when doubling the number of companies and looking at Fortune 1000 companies, that number barely budges, moving to 27. It’s clear that something is wrong in the corporate world and though we’ve come a long way from having to campaign for the right to vote, sexism is very much alive in the modern world.

(Fortune.com)

Sandberg makes a strong point that women are all too aware of: there are unique challenges facing women which men simply don’t have to deal with in our society, especially with regard to raising families. In her talk, Sandberg shares an experience she had where a junior employee asked for her opinion on how to raise a family while working. However, the employee was neither pregnant nor was she in a relationship of any kind at the time. Sandberg describes this as a recurring phenomenon whereby women feel removed from their workplace, having to constantly worry about the day they are might have to leave in order to start a family.

We live in a world where still a far too few women feel empowered enough to go for more prominent positions in politics or business. It is not enough to think that the battle for equal opportunity is over, and women everywhere should keep in mind the kind of impact they can make on the world. 

To listen to what Sheryl Sandberg has to say, visit: http://www.ted.com/talks/sheryl_sandberg_why_we_have_too_few_women_leade...

                  

Sources:

  1. Fairchild, Caroline. "Women CEOs in the Fortune 1000: By The numbers." Fortune. July 8, 2014. Accessed October 4, 2014. http://fortune.com/2014/07/08/women-ceos-fortune-500-1000/.
  2. "Sheryl Sandberg." TED: Ideas worth Spreading. Accessed October 4, 2014. http://www.ted.com/speakers/sheryl_sandberg.

Images Sources:

http://img.tedcdn.com/r/images.ted.com/images/ted/2903dbe09eafe9200099d4...

https://fortunedotcom.files.wordpress.com/2014/06/female51_number-of-fem...