Posts Tagged ‘gender’

Lean In: Sheryl Sandberg Speaks at Stanford

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013

“We need to get women to start out aiming big and staying in.”

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.”

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Bye-Bye, Barbie

Saturday, December 22nd, 2012

You may have noticed a few recent stories in the media about children switching up gender norms. One girl became a YouTube sensation when she proved to be the star of her otherwise male peewee football team. Another successfully challenged Hasbro to create a gender-neutral Susie Bake Oven so that her 4-year-old brother could practice his love of cooking. One awesome little boy insisted that “ninjas can wear pink, too” when he chose pink shoes for his first day of school. Though these examples seem few and far between, I think it’s pretty cool that some parents and children are breaking down gender stereotypes at young ages.

The Susie Bake Oven case shows the prominent role the toy industry has in instilling gender norms. One Stanford engineer hopes to use this to her advantage. As previously discussed on the blog, engineering remains a hugely male dominated field. Sick of the lack of female engineers, Debbie Sterling (Stanford ’05) invented Goldie Blox, a toy designed to expose girls to engineering skills at an early age. Players follow the story of Goldie, a young inventor, and use their toolkits to build simple machines. Given some of the ridiculous differences in gender-specific toys today (A working vacuum for girls? A doll with bodily functions? Really?), Goldie Blox seems like a step in the right direction.

Watch the video below for more on Debbie’s story.

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