Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and the Challenges for Women in Business

In recent weeks, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg has been getting both positive and negative reviews of her book, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead. You can hear about the good and the bad by reading Connie Schultz’s review of Sandberg’s book on The Washington Post.

Despite all of this conversation and debate about whether or not Sheryl Sandberg can truly be a role model for women in business, I have to agree with Schultz in that Sandberg’s intentions are genuine. She wants women in business to succeed. She wants to break down the glass ceiling and ensure both genders have equal opportunities to achieve leadership roles in the male-dominated corporate world that has been allowed to exist for far too long.

The problem extends beyond Sandberg’s personal life of “privilege” that is so often cited by detractors. It also extends beyond her lack of being “in touch with” the majority of women in the workplace. The problem comes from external sources, too. In particular, the problem comes from both the male and female perception that women in executive positions can be neither liked nor hated to succeed — a guaranteed road to failure either way a business woman’s career path takes her.

Dominic Basulto summed it up in his article, “Will We Ever ‘Like’ the Female Executive?” for The Washington Post, which includes the video of Sheryl Sandberg’s popular speech at the 2010 TEDWomen event. You can watch the video below and see for yourself how Sheryl’s speech three years ago, her new book, and the reality of being a woman in business demonstrate that women in business, including Sheryl Sandberg, have more to fight against than the tangible gender gap. The perception gap is an even bigger problem that we’re far from closing.

Susan Gunelius

Susan Gunelius is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Women on Business. She is a 20-year veteran of the marketing field and has authored ten books about marketing, branding, and social media, including the highly popular 30-Minute Social Media Marketing, Content Marketing for Dummies, Blogging All-in-One for Dummies and Kick-ass Copywriting in 10 Easy Steps. Susan’s marketing-related content can be found on Entrepreneur.com, Forbes.com, MSNBC.com, BusinessWeek.com, and more. Susan is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She has worked in corporate marketing roles and through client relationships with AT&T, HSBC, Citibank, Intuit, The New York Times, Cox Communications, and many more large and small companies around the world. Susan also speaks about marketing, branding and social media at events around the world and is frequently interviewed by television, online, radio, and print media organizations about these topics. She holds an MBA in Management and Strategy and a Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing.

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