GHC15: Thursday Plenary

Sheryl Sandberg, COO at Facebook

Nora Denzel, Ericsson board member, Retired SVP, Big Data, Intuit and Vice Chair, for a fireside and Q&A

Sheryl was asked to keynote GHC for years, but refused, as she was not a technical woman. But than she realized her friend Alan Eusted had keynoted… and he wasn’t even a woman. So, she was at least a woman. 🙂

Since Sheryl last spoke in 2011, but the numbers haven’t moved. Sheryl said it’s hard to imagine when looking at a room full of 12,000 women, but tree. These jobs are well paid, available all over the world and have flexible work schedules. Let’s keep working on this.

With all jobs, we make 77 cents to a man’s dollar, but in CS it’s 88 cents to a dollar… so, not as bad.  It’s improving, but very slow.  Some people call this a myth. 

It’s actually 78 cents, and if you equalize for hours worked, it’s 81 cents.  And women tend to have to do more work around the home (note: I’m so lucky for that not to be the case in my marriage!).

Even with the most detailed analysis, the best figure you can come up with is women making 91 cents of the dollar of men’s earnings.  Not equal.

There’s a right way to negotiate and a successful way to negotiate, and she knows we can do it.  Norah asks – how do you do it well?  Sheryl noted that women have a confidence vs likeability problem.  Our brains stereo type to process data quickly – which means we like people that adhere to their stereo types.  All over the world, people believe men should lead and be technical, women should be supportive. When men excel, they are well liked – but if women do… not so much.

Until we get equal parity – you need to make it a communal ask.  Tie your pay to others. I need this because it’s fair, I need this because it’s for all women.  Find more advice on

Sheryl considers herself a feminist – did a show of hands, only 1/2 the women here think they are feminist. If you survey women in the US and ask them if they are feminists – 35% say they are a feminist. If you add a definition that feminism is about equal pay and equal rights – it goes to over 70!

Understanding issues that women face, they will be successful in their career and their lives.

If you have an equal marriage – you will have a happier marriage, more sex and happier children.  The case for including men is not because it’s good for women, because it’s good for men.

If your husband does laundry, you’ll have a great marriage.  If you want to make your wife happy, don’t buy her flowers – do the laundry! FTD would rather the message be: do laundry AND buy flowers.  🙂

Sheryl noted that homosexual couples have more natural equity and find this balance more easily.

Note from Norah: She ran into a man she knew in the park with his kids. She talked to him and asked how he was doing. He noted he was “babysitting” while his wife was at the dentist. It should not be babysitting if they are your own children! But that showed Norah a lot about how this man thought about the work his wife did…don’t be that guy.

LeanIn circles are having great success! One recent example of a 5 woman circle all pushed each other to apply for their dream internship, did practice interviews with each other and helped each other. Each one got their top choice jobs!

To fix bias, we need to understand our biases.  This starts at a young age – mother’s over estimate their infant son’s performance at crawling, and underestimate their daughters.

We don’t call little boys bossy, because they are expected to lead. But, we call litle girls bossy.  “That little girl’s not bossy, she’s got executive leadership skills”. Uproarious laughter. Flip the sentence to little boy – no laughs.  She was hitting our own internal biases.

In 2012, when women made up 20% of the senate – the papers called it a “takeover”. It’s not a takeover, it’s a gap!

The mommy penalty is real. Now that you’re a mother, we really want you to think about your kids… and if you’re thinking about kids, you’re not thinking about work. And… if you’re working hard, you must not be thinking about your kid, and then you are not nice.

After Sheryl’s husband died 6 months ago, one of her friends asked her to write down 3 things she did well she did that day. Some days were harder than others – “made tea”, but she’s done it. Not things she is grateful for, not things others did – things she did well. She said it has made such a positive impact on her life and helped her in this tragic time and she encourages us to all do it.

As a teen Sheryl was not proud of being smart. In the 9th grade, she went to a math competition and was the only girl. She mentioned it to her teacher, and his reply was ‘you’re right, girls don’t do that” … and that was her last time going to a math contest. 

Question: Why is it so hard to get into Facebook?  We’re a small company – big presence, but only 11,000 employees. They do look at every resume and they do expect everyone to be technical. Sheryl thinks she’d be better at her job if she knew how to code.

This post is by Valerie Fenwick and syndicated from Security, Beer, Theater and Biking!    

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