The Washington Post

Dear Sheryl Sandberg, Congrats on your new book, but…

Dear Ms. Sandberg,

Thanks for writing “Lean In,” which I hope we won’t be tired of talking about before it even hits stores on Monday. I’m glad someone as successful as you has reminded young women that, yes, it is good to be confident. And I’m glad, too, that you told those newly minted college grads that crucial secret: if you want to get paid as much as a guy, you must negotiate hard for your salary rather than accepting what is offered. Oh, and by the way, your recommendation to marry an egalitarian-minded man who will support your career — solid stuff there. Your book could kick-start a discussion among ambitious young women about how their personal choices help or hinder women’s ascent up the corporate ladder.

Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg, author of the new book “Lean In,” which comes out on Monday. (Jean-Christophe Bott — AP)

And last week, when I saw that you were holding closed meetings at some of the most powerful investment banks in our country – Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, and JP Morgan Chase to discuss “Lean In,” I was even more encouraged. Sheryl, those banks could really use your guidance. Maybe you didn’t realize this, but women are only a token presence on their corporate boards. Seriously, you’d be shocked. Morgan Stanley has two female board members out of 14. Goldman Sachs has two female board members out of 13, and JP Morgan Chase has only a single woman – a token! — on their 11-person board. I know. I know. In 2013! I couldn’t believe it either, but you can take a look for yourself right there on their Web sites.

Then I got kind of confused. Maybe you already knew that those big banks were making sure all the money, power and influence stayed with men. I mean, how could you not? I was scrolling around the Web and read that those exact same banks were the lead underwriters on Facebook’s historic initial public offering just last year. As the COO of Facebook, you were involved in the third biggest public offering of all time. You must have looked at who was at the helm. Didn’t you notice that the overwhelming majority of those board members were, um, male? And look here! According to the financial press, Morgan Stanley has generated $1.2 billion in fees from Facebook since 2010.

Now, I don’t want to sound naïve – and I’m not all that well versed in securities law — but money talks, right? I know you don’t control the investment banking industry but it seems to me that if you are the boss at Facebook and Facebook is handing Morgan Stanley $1.2 billion you might have asked a few top dogs there to ‘Lean In’ a little, get over their institutional sexism and name another two or three woman to the board.

If you want to change things for young ambitious women, here’s a little advice from me: forget trying to organize little consciousness raising groups around the country for already stressed out women. Instead, lobby your bosses to get another woman on your Facebook board, then make a public announcement that from now on, Facebook will only do business with companies in which 40 percent — even 30 percent– of their executive team is female. Good lord, Sheryl, you’d set off a quake that would reverberate from Silicon Valley to Wall Street. Forget those nasty book reviewers. It wouldn’t matter if you never sold another copy – you’d change the world for working women overnight.

For now, Sheryl, I’m going to remain open-minded. You already have a big job, and you took on another — becoming an icon for young ambitious women. Now, as my mom used to say, put your money where your mouth is. For the next couple of weeks, I’m going to watch for some big announcement from those investment banks or from Facebook itself. You are the ultimate insider. And if you are willing to use your considerable influence to do what is right for women, I’ll be your biggest fan. And if not, well, not. Because from where I sit, it’s not just the dewy female college graduates who need to think differently about the choices they make so that women can get ahead. You do, too.

Peg Tyre is a journalist and the author of “The Good School” and “The Trouble With Boys.”

The Freddie Gray case

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Campaign 2016 Email Updates

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Get Zika news by email

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!
Comments
Show Comments
Republicans debated Saturday night. The South Carolina GOP primary and the Nevada Democratic caucuses are next on Feb. 20. Get caught up on the race.
The Post's Dan Balz says...
Rarely has the division between Trump and party elites been more apparent. Trump trashed one of the most revered families in Republican politics and made a bet that standing his ground is better than backing down. Drawing boos from the audience, Trump did not flinch. But whether he will be punished or rewarded by voters was the unanswerable question.
GOP candidates react to Justice Scalia's death
Quoted
I don't know how he knows what I said on Univision because he doesn't speak Spanish.
Sen. Marco Rubio, attacking Sen. Ted Cruz in Saturday night's very heated GOP debate in South Carolina. Soon after, Cruz went on a tirade in Spanish.
The Fix asks The State's political reporter where the most important region of the state is.
The State's Andy Shain says he could talk about Charleston, which represents a little bit of everything the state has to offer from evangelicals to libertarians, and where Ted Cruz is raising more money than anywhere else. In a twist, Marco Rubio is drawing strong financial support from more socially conservative Upstate. That said, Donald Trump is bursting all the conventional wisdom in the state. So maybe the better answer to this question is, "Wherever Trump is."
Past South Carolina GOP primary winners
South Carolina polling averages
Donald Trump leads in the first state in the South to vote, where he faces rivals Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.
South Carolina polling averages
The S.C. Democratic primary is Feb. 27. Clinton has a significant lead in the state, whose primary falls one week after the party's Nevada caucuses.
62% 33%
The complicated upcoming voting schedule
Feb. 20

Democrats caucus in Nevada; Republicans hold a primary in South Carolina.

Feb. 23

Republicans caucus in Nevada.

Feb. 27

Democrats hold a primary in South Carolina.

Upcoming debates
Feb 25: GOP debate

on CNN, in Houston, Texas

March 3: GOP debate

on Fox News, in Detroit, Mich.

March 6: Democratic debate

on CNN, in Flint, Mich.

Campaign 2016
Where the race stands
Most Read

national

she-the-people

Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Close video player
Now Playing

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.