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Sheryl Sandberg Should Be Cheered, Not Slammed, For Empowering Young Women

Mon, March 11, 2013 2:55pm EDT by Bonnie Fuller 2 Comments
Sheryl Sandberg Lean In

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, author of the controversial new book ‘Lean In,’ is being dissed for daring to say there’s more that women can do to help themselves make their career dreams happen. She’s right, and her book is packed with great advice.

Sheryl Sandberg, the author of Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, should be every young women’s new heroine. At 43, the COO of Facebook has managed to attain the elusive female holy grail — she’s successfully combining a fulfilling career, with a happy marriage and motherhood.

Sheryl Sandberg: ‘Lean In’ Facing Criticism

While she’s admittedly far from perfect – she reveals all kinds of mistakes she’s made – she feels so strongly that more women should be reaching leadership positions today, even if they are plagued by doubts,that she felt compelled to write her book.

But instead of being cheered on for wanting to help young women make their dreams a reality, the knives have come out and sadly, most of Sheryl’s strongest critics are other women.

Facebook COO: Women In Business Are Holding Themselves Back

Sheryl’s crime in her critics’ eyes is that she has bravely chosen to be honest and say that women are unconsciously contributing to the factors holding them back from not being as successful as they could be.

I read her book avidly and, in fact, she doesn’t “blame” women as critics have charged, but she does point out that women are often reluctant to appear too ambitious, that many are wracked by self doubts about their abilities, and that they may be afraid to take on promotions and more responsibilities, especially if they have or ever plan to have children.

Sheryl doesn’t let corporate America off the hook either. She absolutely believes that businesses need to become more female friendly, but she thinks that will happen far more quickly once greater numbers of women are in leadership positions. And more women will only get to be leaders if they actively actively try to be!

Women Are Now More Educated Than Men, Why Aren’t They Getting The Top Jobs?

Doesn’t it make you angry that women now earn 57% of all Bachelor’s degrees in college and 52% of Doctorate degrees, but only 20 of the Fortune 500 companies have female CEOs?

And there are only 97 women in Congress versus 438 men? Plus women still only earn only 77 cents for every dollar that men get paid- how wrong is that!

Why is that? After all, us women make up fifty percent of the population and we’re now more educated overall than men?

So what gives?

Don’t you want to know, because it doesn’t seem fair and it impacts YOU!

That’s exactly why Sheryl has written this book, and is acting as a cheerleader for young women.

Sheryl’s 8 Success Tips Women Need To Read

Have you ever felt like you didn’t deserve the success that you’ve already had? That you were a fraud? Sheryl points out that even 30 Rock‘s Tina Fey has confessed to feeling like “I’m a fraud! Oh God, they’re on to me! I’m a fraud!”

Have you ever felt intimidated by male colleagues and/or bosses, so you didn’t participate in meetings at work or raise your hand to ask questions?

Have you been afraid to negotiate for a raise or to ask for a promotion because you were afraid that you wouldn’t get either anyway?

Or, have you ever turned down a new job or promotion or put your brakes on your career because you plan to have kids or you have them and you don’t think you can possibly manage any more responsibility?

If you’ve felt any of these things, you really should read Lean In, which encourages you to positively pursue the career you set out to have, instead of letting fear put the brakes on yourself. Here are Sheryl’s 8 big key success-for-yourself points:

#1. Don’t Let Fear Hold You Back
Allow yourself to dream big about what you want to achieve in your one life, and then give yourself permission to go for it all.

#2. Don’t Underestimate Yourself
Join in the meetings and discussions at work and school and don’t be afraid to express your opinions and ideas.

#3. Realize That Choosing a Life Partner is a Career Decision
Marry the right person – someone who will support your career aspirations, be proud of your successes and share 50/50 in the childcare and house care.

Studies actually show that a guy who does housework, gets more sex, Sheryl points out . Supportive men are sexy!

#4. Don’t Sacrifice Being Successful for Being Liked
Unfortunately, you may have to develop a bit of a tough shell, since women who are strong and ambitious, can still be viewed as unlikable or worse, the dreaded, “B” word.

“Learning to withstand criticism is a necessity for women,” she quotes Arianna Huffington, founder of The Huffington Post.

#5. You Don’t Have to be 100 Percent Ready to Take on a Promotion or New Role
Sheryl says that too often women are  afraid to take on new challenges. But she points out that many men don’t let doubts stand in their way of a big next step ,so why not go for it? Do it!

#6. Don’t Scale Back Your Ambitions Because You Want To Be a Mom!
Sheryl, a mom of two young children, says she’s observed too many women turning down opportunities because they plan to have kids one day  and not even imminently. Instead, she points out that not only CAN you combine a career with motherhood, but that the more senior your position, the more you earn, which makes your childcare options easier, plus your company is more likely to make accommodations for your needs as a mom. Sadly, our country has no mandatory paid maternity leave BUT having a career you love, has so many positives for you and your children, including financial independence – that it’s worth it to juggle both.

#7. Don’t Drive Yourself Crazy With Perfection Guilt
“Guilt” seems to be the evil twin we take on with motherhood, but Sheryl says we just have to stop beating ourselves up and I totally agree. “Guilt management can be just as important as time management for mothers,” she insists, and as a working mom of four, I can tell you, she’s right. I wrote a lot about this in my own book, The Joys of Much Too Much: Go For The Big Life- The Great Career, The Perfect Guy and Everything Else You’ve Ever Wanted ( Even If You’re Afraid You Don’t Have What It Takes)

You’ve got to stop making yourself nuts trying to be perfect! Relax- studies show that kids of working moms are just as well-adjusted and successful as moms who stay at home, plus you’ll be a great role model for them – especially your daughters.

#8. If You Rise to the Top, You’ll Help Other Women
Sheryl is convinced that only when women are half the CEOs and half the government leaders, will it totally open up opportunities for all women. So if you become a leader, you’ll be helping your female colleagues, friends and daughters, to be recognized and promoted, too! And you know what, I’m sure she’s right. When women are accepted in a far bigger way as leaders, it changes our society’s attitudes and actions toward women.

Remember that women only achieved the right to vote in 1920, 144 years after men. People actually didn’t think women had the brainpower to make such an important decision as voting for their elected officials! Shocking!

In the 1950’s, most men and women didn’t believe women should work at all, especially after women were married.

Attitudes toward women CAN change and I applaud Sheryl for doing her best to push them to evolve at light speed. Every female will be the beneficiary.

And her critics need to stop griping about the fact that she is super rich (almost a billionaire), smart (she went to Harvard), and that she has a loving husband who’s supported her career. Their criticism just makes them look jealous.

She could be super rich and stay silent. Instead, she’s taking on social responsibilities and trying to help other women improve their lives.

“It’s easier for me (to speak out because she is super rich and powerful),” she admitted on 60 Minutes on March 10. “That’s why I’m saying it.” EXACTLY.

So check out her book, Lean In, and also go to her website!

Tell me what you think, HollywoodLifers! Is Sheryl Sandberg dishing out advice that’s helpful or is she out of touch? Tell me now!

— Bonnie Fuller

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