One of the most daunting aspects of being a female in the technical fields is the dearth of female role models.
Growing up at my elementary school, I dreaded the inevitable biography book report. I always got Marie Curie. No slight to Madame Curie, but I couldn’t help but shudder to think that the only techy female role model my teachers could dig up for me died 80 years ago. Painfully. Of radiation poisoning. The prospects seemed bleak for a ten-year-old girl who liked science.
Leading Ladies of Tech
Enter Sheryl Sandberg. The Chief Operating Officer at Facebook and former vice president of Global Online Sales and Operations at Google, Sandberg is one of the most influential women in the world. She and a new generation of women leaders in tech – like Yahoo!’s Marissa Mayer (Stanford B.S. in SymSys) – have shown young women everywhere that female leadership is no mere possibility, but also a necessity for an egalitarian society.
Sandberg’s credentials make her a prime role model and spokesperson for the modern feminist movement. Her modest autobiographical Twitter bio of “mother of 2, wife of awesome guy, friend to many great women” belies her professional accomplishments and impact. After graduating summa cum laude from Harvard and receiving her MBA from Harvard Business School, she worked with the World Bank and served as Chief of Staff for the U.S. Treasury during the Clinton years. She’s now #10 on Forbes’ list of the world’s most powerful women.
Sandberg only recently tackled issues of gender in leadership, but has done so with gusto. Her famous TED Talk “Why we have too few women leaders” has over 2 million views, and her new book Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead has been translated into 24 languages.
The Bad News
Sandberg opened the talk with a sobering description of the state of women in modern leadership.
The blunt truth is that men still run the world. Unequivocally, no question about it.”