In the aftermath of Lean-In, The Guardian conducted a study on a group of successful working women in their 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s to learn how useful Sandberg’s message can be to both them individually and as a women’s movement as a whole. With Twitter networking and some luck, I got into contact with the subject interviewed for the 20s portion of the study, Director of Marketing and Communications at Vox Media, Callie Schweitzer. Callie took the time out of her busy schedule to answer some questions of my own about her role in the media and views on Sandberg.
How and why did you become interested in your current career? What do you do?
I’ve always been driven by storytelling. I grew up with an innate desire to bring quality content to people. I like to call it “news people don’t know they need.” We live in a hyper-digital world that moves at lighting speed; how you package content matters. I’m in charge of making sure as many people as possible see the work we do at Vox Media where I run the marketing and communications department and work with the company’s CEO Jim Bankoff to grow Vox and the individual publications’ brands. Vox publishes tech/culture site The Verge, gaming site Polygon, and sports site SB Nation. I believe in the quality of the work we do, and I feel lucky to get to tell the company’s great stories.
After reading about your participation in the Sandberg study, you express that the movement for gender equality needs equal cooperation from men. Do you believe Lean-In will have as profound impact on men as it does targeting women? For example, according to one article, only 37% of Sandberg’s Twitter followers are men.
I don’t think you can read much into how the ratio breakdown of Sandberg’s Twitter followers will affect our progress on this front. Sandberg is a global voice who works at one of the most talked about companies in the world — her microphone and her platform for this is enormous, and there are plenty of ways for men to help enact this kind of change.
According to Buzzfeed, Sandberg’s movement has been attracting high-earning, ivy-league women – the epitome of Sandberg herself. Many criticize Sandberg for not relating to the “99%” and that her advice only applies to privileged women. What is your opinion of these criticisms? Do you think her movement can apply to everyone? Why or why not?
I think Sandberg’s advice can apply to everyone. All of it? No. Some of it? Of course. Much of the book talks about workplace problems and how to solve them, whether it’s negotiating a raise, figuring out a work-life balance or becoming a better communicator. These are interpersonal skills that can help all of us in both work and personal relationships — regardless of if you dream of the C-suite or are a stay-at-home mother.
In her TED talk, Sandberg explains how women tend to lean-out of their careers and take it easy as we start thinking having kids. As a women in your 20s, how do you understand this piece of advice? Has her ideas on kids while working influenced your future plans at all?
Being a mother is incredibly hard as is being a working mother, but it is something that’s very important to me and that I will definitely try to make work. I can’t speak to where I’ll be in my career or how old I’ll be when I decide to have kids, but as someone who’s always been passionate about her career, I assume I’ll be trying hard to maintain a vibrant one.