[Make Your Case: Is Sheryl Sandberg good for feminism? Readers weigh in. >>]
In high school, Sandberg was voted “most likely to succeed” but asked a yearbook friend to delete it so she’d have a date to the prom. She was the only woman in her class to win a Harvard Business School award but, unlike the male recipients, felt compelled to keep her success a secret. She was “horrified” and “embarrassed” that Forbes magazine listed her as the fifth-most-powerful woman in the world, ahead of Michelle Obama.
By the time she describes the pangs of guilt as a mother working outside the home — some of her most poignant passages — it is impossible to forget that she, like many of the female friends she quotes, is a wealthy, white, married woman with a “vast support system.” Surely she could have included a story or two about successful women who are more likely to have been born to nannies than to hire them. Or at least more who didn’t graduate from the Ivy League.
Sandberg barely mentions the millions of single mothers in the workplace. She does, however, advise women on how to find a supportive spouse — who, in her book, is almost always male. Ambitious lesbians will have to find their tutorial elsewhere. “When looking for a life partner, my advice to women is date all of them: the bad boys, the cool boys, the commitment-phobic boys, the crazy boys,” Sandberg writes. “But do not marry them.”
So, how to find the right guy? Sandberg turns to Kristina Salen, an executive with Fidelity who devised a two-tiered test to determine whether a boyfriend would support her career. First, Salen canceled a date because of work. If the guy kept his cool, she proceeded to test No. 2: Was he willing to join her on a work trip — to Sao Paulo, Brazil? That’ll weed out the losers, not to mention most men on the planet.
Sandberg encourages women to act more like men. She quotes her longtime mentor Larry Summers, who once advised his tax lawyer wife, Vicki, to “bill like a boy.” “His view was that the men considered any time they spent thinking about an issue — even time in the shower — as billable hours,” Sandberg writes. “His wife and her female colleagues, however, would decide that they were not at their best on a given day and discount hours they spent at their desks to be fair to the client.”
Sandberg asks: “Which lawyers were more valuable to their firm?”
My question: When did personal integrity become a character flaw?