Tuesday, 23rd April 2013
Facebook’s chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, has been causing quite a political and feminist storm. After writing her book Lean In, which advises women on how to succeed in the workplace, and giving various speeches, Sandberg has found herself and her views under attack.
Sandberg is already considered one of the most powerful women in the business world, yet she believes that there should be more successful women and that the answer to solving political and economic crises is to have more women hold more positions of power.
When addressing an audience at The Times’ London office, Sandberg said that in order for women to begin gaining the equality they need to tackle gender issues, they need to start from within the home.
She feels that the home is where women need to attain more support from their husbands, boyfriends or partners: ‘In every country, women do twice as much housework as men. The workplace will not change until the home changes.’
Unfortunately, her strong ‘feminist’ views have received a fair amount of criticism from her fellow women. A disgruntled female reader of Time magazine (15 April issue) sent in a letter regarding their recent article on Sandberg, stating that gender ‘roles and aspirations are supposed to be different – it’s called compensation and equilibrium… What does Sandberg propose next, male childbearing?’
However, what Sandberg does not seem to address is that women can find arguably the best kind of support within the workplace, rather than in the home. Perhaps Sandberg should consider that the support from fellow working women, instead of a husband or partner, is much more beneficial.
In 2003 Gwen Rhys, the CEO of Networking Culture Limited, founded ‘Women in the City’, a network that Rhys quotes on the website as one that aims to ‘promote, recognise and reward female talent’. Through this network like-minded women in the business world can come together and benefit from meeting one another through lunches and networking. Rhys recalls that she felt her conception of ‘Women in the City’ was a ‘simple idea’ and that by organizing events, women who worked in the city would be able to ‘share experiences’ or ‘hear an inspirational speaker’.
The growing network says that women need not look to their other half at home for support, but instead reach out to a network of women similar to themselves. Most importantly, ‘Women in the City’ aims to: ‘Increase each woman’s impact and visibility in her organisation and sector’ and ‘empower, inspire and motivate professional businesswomen’.
The more women start to network and connect with one another through programmes such as ‘Women in the City’ and its events and lunches, the more support is found and provided. Rhys comments that through networking and even shopping trips, ‘some serious business connections are made.’
Despite Sandberg’s view that men dominate the business and political world, perhaps tackling the obstacle of gender issues should not begin within the home. If women are to ever get on top, then maybe the environment to ask for support should be where success is cultivated and thrives — within the workplace.