The Sandberg Hoopla

Sheryl Sandberg is the IT girl these days.  While she may have given this TED talk in 2010, her plans for what could be a ground-breaking, female-empowering social movement will be unveiled in less than 3 weeks.  If you just #hashtag #glassceiling or follow @NYTIMES in the last few days – the “hoopla” may just overwhelm you. 

Outlined in Jodi Kantor’s NYTimes optimistic piece “A Titan’s How-To On Breaking the Glass Ceiling”, Facebook COO Sandberg plans to utilize her ‘women-take-action’ approach to equality in the workplace by enacting “Lean-In Circles”.  The social experiment entails education modules designed for 8-12 peers to come together to promote equality and self-awareness, or what Kantor describes as “consciousness-raising groups of yore”.  Sponsored by the NYT, the initiative includes membership requirements such as check-ins, attendance, and presentations.

“Lean-In Circles” accompanies her highly anticipated new book  Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead  that will stack bookshelves March 11.  Not only is  “Betty Friedan of the digital age” going to launch a book and an associated social initiative, that would be too boring for the iconic feminist.  The release includes a 60 Minutes appearance by Sandberg, a spread in Time Magazine, and even a book party with Bloomberg.

So where does the hoopla come in?  Let’s just say Sandberg has a few critics.  If you enter “Sheryl Sandberg” in TweetDeck, new posts, blogs, and opinions on Sandberg are emerging every few minutes, both positive and negative.  Perhaps Sandberg’s biggest is Princeton professor and former government official under Hilary Clinton, Anne-Marie Slaughter.  Some people call the feud between Sandberg/Slaughter “Mommy Wars”; while Sandberg attributes the too few female leaders in high positions to how “women underestimate themselves”,  Slaughter finds that it isn’t feasible to hold women to such extreme standards as both mothers and C-Suite executives.  Slaughter commented on Sandberg’s book in a Fortune Magazine interview saying, “she’s made a real contribution to the book, but that’s only half the story.”  Slaughter’s extensive stance can be found in The Atlantic’s  “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All”.

Critiquing Kantor’s NYT article is Kara Swisher of in “Old Media Doesn’t Get New Media: The Sheryl Sandberg Attack”, saying, basically, its too soon to tell if Lean-In will be a social movement or success whatsoever.  For those who are calling Lean-In the modern version of the “Feminist Mystique”, I agree with Swisher – lets hold the reigns for a bit and see what the following weeks and months prove.  For such an exorbitant press release, this should be exciting to watch.

As the Facebook mogul calls herself the “pompom girl for feminism“, lets hoorah and hope that this “movement” does make strides to shattering that darn glass ceiling.


  1. Pingback: TechCrunch hosts Lean-In Techie Talk | lets break glass!
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