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Sandberg Inspires Women Professionals at Davos

By SiliconIndia   |   Monday, February 4, 2013
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Bangalore: In a sea of CEOs, Hollywood actors and even Royalty, Sheryl Sandberg, the passionate chief operations officer of Facebook stood out. Touching upon a topic destined to spark debate and controversy, Sandburg  seemed determined to put across her message regarding a woman’s choices in personal life and how they eventually have an impact upon her career.  Here’s what she had to say among the hundreds of chief executives attending the conference at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland ; as reported by Emma Rowley via businessinsider.com.

“We know the childbearing years are a challenge for women, [for companies] to keep them, we know that,” Sandberg said. ''How many managers in this audience have sat down with a woman – who has not mentioned it to you [before] – and said, 'You may want to have a child one day, I want to talk to you about that. Are you thinking of having children?’ Who’s done that?”  Not a single hand was raised in response to Sandburg’s question.
 “Every HR department tells you not to do that,” said Sandberg. “But how are we going to get women through that frame if we can’t have that conversation?”

Sandberg lays out her views and  opinions in her book , yet to be published entitled, Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead is set for release in March, but it is already causing a rouse across the Atlantic.
“We hold ourselves back in ways both big and small, by lacking self-confidence, by not raising our hands, and by pulling back when we should be leaning in,” Sandberg wrote, according to a preview which was out in  the New York Times. “We internalise the negative messages we get throughout our lives, the messages that say it’s wrong to be outspoken, aggressive, more powerful than men. We lower our own expectations of what we can achieve.”

“Maybe it’s the last year of med school when they say, 'I’ll take a slightly less interesting speciality because I’m going to want more balance one day,’” she said. “Maybe it’s the fifth year in a law firm when they say, 'I’m not even sure I should go for partner(ship at the firm), because I know I’m going to want kids eventually.’ These women don’t even have relationships, and already they’re finding balance, balance for responsibilities they don’t yet have. And from that moment, they start quietly leaning back (from their careers). The problem is, often they don’t even realise it.”
It is a message that Sandberg has been pressing in for some time.

“Do not leave before you leave,” she told students graduating from New York’s Barnard College for women in 2011 . “Do not lean back; lean in. Put your foot on that gas pedal and keep it there until the day you have to make a decision, and then make a decision. That’s the only way, when that day comes, you’ll even have a decision to make.”

“If someone wants to sue me for gender discrimination because I’m talking to women about childbearing, go ahead,” she said. “No one talks about this and companies don’t talk about this. And we need to see the cost of this – and change it.”

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