In a new book, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg writes about the difficulties of being a woman in a man’s corporate world.Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead, due to come out next week, is filled with sound advice for women as well as tidbits about her life.
Sandberg’s career is already the stuff of legend, points out book reviewer Tom Gara at the Wall Street Journal: Harvard summa cum laude, Treasury Department chief of staff by 27, Google VP at 32 and Facebook chief operating officer today.
Her life screams of ambition, and it seems to have started very young. Sandberg writes that she trained her younger siblings to “follow me around, listen to my monologues and scream the word ‘right’ when I concluded.”
But that doesn’t mean everyone always respected her. In men, that kind of take-charge ambition is viewed as a positive. When women show those traits, Sandberg writes, they often meet with a negative reaction.
And then there’s the straight-up sexism Sandberg encountered. In another story, she tells how Tip O’Neill literally patted her head (instead of shaking her hand) the first time they met. She was in high school and an intern on Capitol Hill with her local congressman. He introduced her to O’Neill, then Speaker of the House:
“The speaker looked at me, then reached over and patted my head,” Sandberg recalls. “He turned to the congressman and remarked ‘she’s pretty.’ Then he turned his attention back to me and asked just one question: ‘Are you a pom-pom girl?'”