Sheryl Sandberg Defends Marissa Mayer And All Women
6:30 pm, March 10th | by Meredith Lepore
Sheryl Sandberg is promoting her book and launching a national movement to empower women, but she still has time to defend her friend and fellow Silicon Valley power woman Marissa Mayer. In this week’s TIME cover story she had a lot to say.
“No one knows what happened there,” she told interviewer Belinda Luscombe. “I think flexibility is important for women and for men. But there are some jobs that are super-flexible and some that aren’t.”
She also noted that if a male CEO made the order, he wouldn’t have gotten as much criticism. That thought experiment could also be applied to Sandberg: is being criticized because she is a massively successful woman? Why? Shouldn’t we be listening to someone who is doing well?
“Most of the criticism has to do with the position she is coming from,” said Susan Yohn, professor and chair of Hofstra University’s history department. But Sandberg is one step ahead of everyone and is prepared for the backlash. She said:
“The more women stick up for one another, the better. Sadly this doesn’t always happen. And it seems to happen even less when women voice a position that involves a gender related issue. The attacks on Marissa for her maternity leave plans came almost entirely from other women. This has certainly been my experience too. Everyone loves a fight–and they really love a cat fight.”
But the data that Sheryl is sharing and using to support for her speaks for itself. Luscombe wrote:
“Few people disagree that somewhere on the climb between the graduation podium and the C-suite, women are getting lost. The contentious issue is what—or who—is keeping them down. Fingers are pointed in every direction: the U.S. has primitive maternity-leave laws on par with those of Papua New Guinea—a country that still has actual cannibals. Women are hitting their childbearing deadlines around the time future executives are being winnowed out from regular management. Turnover at corporate boards, which are heavily male-dominated, is very slow; most have a mandatory retirement age of 72. American companies structure their workers’ days around the expectation that someone else is handling the home front. Men have welcomed women into the workplace, but housework, cooking and child-rearing duties are still borne largely by women.”
Sandberg isn’t saying she is perfect, but that she is trying and we all should too. And until the numbers are better and way more women are in the C-Suite, maybe we shouldn’t yell at a woman who is speaking out.