I came across this article in the Huffington Post last week that looked at some of the backlash Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook, has received lately based on her new book, Women, Work, and the Will to Lead. Sandberg’s message is one of support, encouraging women to not only embrace their careers but to “lean in” and pursue their goals and ambitions. However, this message is receiving harsh criticism because it is not considered to be accessible to the mainstream American woman. Sandberg’s accomplishments and advice are being written off because, among other things, she does not accurately represent every conceivable image of a working woman.
The author of this piece, Nisha Chattal, accurately states that the “twisted reasoning behind women tearing down Sheryl Sandberg is that we have so few examples of powerful women that we hold the few that we do have — like Sandberg — up to impossibly high standards and expect them to represent all women everywhere. We never expect a powerful man to represent all types of men in all demographics and income brackets and personal circumstances.” So my question now is this: why do we continue to essentially punish women who are in leadership roles because they have succeeded?
Growing up, I remember thinking about how unfair it was that there were never any women being recognized for professional accomplishments (this once lead to an impassioned debate with the boys in my sixth grade class because I was obviously going to become the first female President of the United States and no one could stop me!). As women, we clearly want – and need – these role models in our lives, so why do we cast aside the ones who do rise to the top of their fields? Whether you agree with Sheryl Sandberg or not, I think we can agree that it’s time for women to start supporting the female role models we have rather than find every possible reason to disregard their success.
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