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Sheryl Sandberg: ‘Gender equality benefits all of us’

Facebook’s COO says she wants Hillary Clinton to be next U.S. president

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Published : 2013-07-07 20:22
Updated : 2013-07-07 20:22

Facebook’s powerhouse woman Sheryl Sandberg wants Hillary Clinton to be the first U.S. female president.

“I would like the United States to have a female president,” Sandberg, the chief operating officer of Facebook, said during a press conference in Seoul last week.

“I would like Hillary Clinton to be the female president. I think she is the best hope in the United States for someone to be a female president in the next foreseeable future. And I think she is also really uniquely qualified for the job, given everything she’s done.”

The 48-year-old was in Seoul to promote her best-selling memoir “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead,” which deals extensively with gender equality at home and work. The book encourages women to “lean in” to reach their potential and get ahead professionally. 
Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer of Facebook, speaks during a press conference in Seoul on Thursday. (Yonhap News)

“The real equality for men and women benefits all of us,” she told reporters. “It benefits our economies, our countries, our companies, and it benefits us as people and as parents.”

Sandberg, who studied economics at Harvard, has served as Facebook’s COO since 2008. Before joining Facebook, she worked as vice president of global online sales and operations at Google, and as chief of staff for the United States Secretary of the Treasury. In 2011, she was ranked No. 5 on Forbes magazine’s list of “World’s 100 Most Powerful Women,” ahead of first lady Michelle Obama.

“I wrote ‘Lean In’ because everywhere in the world, men are still largely in the leadership roles,” she told reporters. “In every country in the world, at least 95 percent of the head jobs in large companies are held by men. And in Korea the number is even lower. In Korea, less than 1 percent of the seniors of the large companies are women.”

During the conference, Sandberg also talked about balancing work and family, which she said she, too, once struggled with. Sandberg stressed it is important for husbands to share domestic responsibilities with their working wives. She became a lot happier and her marriage is stronger after her husband realized the importance of the matter and decided to split the domestic workload fairly, Sandberg said.

“Men don’t do as much as women at home at anywhere in the world,” she said. “And that means that our homes are not as happy as they could be, and it hurts our children. The data shows that when a man and a woman split things more evenly (at home), marriages are happier, and children, boys and girls, benefit tremendously from having more engaged fathers.”

When asked about women’s tendency of being “antagonistic” to fellow female workers or leaders at work, Sandberg said she hopes it will change over time.

“In every society ― this has been true over and over ― when a group is historically discriminated against and they brought the few first people who rise into the majority of the group and gain power, they often adopt the attitudes of the people who (used to discriminate against them),” she said. “And (the first women leaders) therefore become as discriminatory against women as men were before them.

“I think as women we often feel bad. I think other people made us feel this way and we feel this way ourselves. So part of why it is hard to support other women is we really feel insecure in ourselves. But I think we can really understand that, and we can have empathy for each other. And we can, rather than feel antagonistic, feel truly supportive.”

Sandberg ended the press meeting with practical advice for men. “I have said all over the world that I have advice not just for women but for men,” she said. “For men, if you want to make your wife happy, don’t bring her flowers. Go do the laundry.”

By Claire Lee (dyc@heraldcorp.com)

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