Editor's note: Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook, is the author of "Lean In." Watch the first part of Soledad O'Brien's interview with Sheryl Sandberg at 8 a.m. ET Monday on CNN.
By Sheryl Sandberg, Special to CNN
(CNN) - My hope in writing "Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead" was to change the conversation from what women can't do to what we can.
We need a national conversation that examines the barriers that hold women back and prevent us from achieving true equality. Additionally and just as importantly, we need personal conversations among us all - managers and employees, friends, colleagues, partners, parents and children - where issues about gender are discussed openly.
The blunt truth is that men still run the world. Of today's 195 independent countries, only 17 are led by women. In the United States, where our founding creed promises liberty and justice for all, women constitute just 18% of our elected congressional officials.
Editor's Note: Watch Soledad O'Brien's interview with Sheryl Sandberg on "Starting Point" at 7 a.m. ET on Monday, March 18th and Tuesday, March 19th.
By Soledad O'Brien, "Starting Point" anchor
When you walk into Facebook’s New York City office, you get a sweeping loft-like feeling from a beautiful courtyard with big open windows in the very modern Bank of America building on Madison Ave. You’re also faced with a message in massive red letters that you can only read at a distance:
“PROCEED AND BE BOLD.”
I was there for my sit-down interview with Sheryl Sandberg, the company’s chief operating officer. She walks me over to the wall of windows with red letters to make it clear that the message is the ethos of the social media company.
Sandberg is wearing a navy and red dress, with a dark navy cardigan, and comes across as professional and personable. She had just rushed from another interview with CNN sister company Fortune magazine. You may have also seen her in one of her other zillion interviews this week, with CBS’s “60 Minutes,” or on the cover of “TIME” magazine.
As we prepare for the interview, she tells me she doesn’t enjoy the process of talking about herself, and admits she finds it to be a bit of a struggle. But the struggle must be worth it, because Sandberg’s message is gaining traction as a result of her book “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead” which was released on Monday.
The advice in “Lean In” is best when used to guide young women. In the book, Sandberg writes that women should strive to close the ambition gap with men, and to become leaders early in their careers to allow them flexibility later on.
“ 'Lean In' is not about fixing women,” she tells me. “'Lean In' is about all of us coming together to understand the stereotypes that are holding women back and fix them.”
However, that’s not how many have interpreted Sandberg’s points.
By Breeanna Hare, CNN
(CNN) - To become Google's first female engineer in 1999 - and, eventually, one of the most powerful women in tech - Marissa Mayer had to get comfortable with risk.
"I always did something I was a little not ready to do," she said last year while speaking on her best decisions in a talk with NPR Correspondent Laura Sydell. "That feeling at the end of the day, where you're like, 'what have I gotten myself into?' I realized that sometimes when you have that feeling and you push through it, something really great happens."
If the 37-year-old still makes career moves by her tried-and-true process, then she's likely anticipating something great to occur in her new role as Yahoo's CEO.
Mayer's hiring last summer, which accordng to Fortune made her the youngest head of a Fortune 500 company, came as a surprise, and her high-wire decisions since have spread far wider than Yahoo's campus.
First, there was her brief maternity leave after she gave birth to her son in September. When the Silicon Valley star first announced that she was pregnant, on the very same day Yahoo revealed she was the company's new CEO, some saw it as a progressive move and hoped Mayer would set a new standard for mothers trying to balance the competing demands of their corporate and familial roles.
What they saw instead was a businesswoman eager to get back in the office and who said that having a new baby in her life wasn't as difficult as she'd been told.
But the real critiques came last month when Yahoo's HR department issued an e-mail telling staff that they will no longer be able to work from home, prompting an angry backlash and leading some to question Mayer's judgment.
While some found her position just, others hoping the new mom would create a more reasonable corporate culture interpreted the move as unfair, noting that Mayer approved the edict while building a nursery next to her office - not an option for most working parents.
But over her nearly 14-year career in the tech world, Mayer has consistently shaken up expectations. If we've learned anything about this influential computer engineer-turned-corporate executive, it's that she plays the game of business by her own rules.
1. She doesn't do stereotypes
Part of the legend of Marissa Mayer is that she doesn't fit into our assumptions of what it means to be a tech geek.
By Todd Leopold, CNN
(CNN) - Sheryl Sandberg is a role model, say her defenders.
The chief operating officer of Facebook earned two degrees from Harvard and spent the early part of her career in public service, rising to become chief of staff to Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers during the latter days of the Clinton administration. She helped build Google into a powerhouse; she has led the Facebook team in making the social media site ubiquitous. She's a mother who cares deeply about work-life balance and has been outspoken about women pulling together.
Sheryl Sandberg is no role model, say her detractors.
She's glided to the top thanks to the help of powerful men, whether it's the patronage of Summers, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt or Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. She's worth hundreds of millions of dollars, lives in an exclusive Bay Area suburb with a staff of minders and knows as much about being a working mother as a Pacific Heights socialite.
One thing's for sure: Sheryl Sandberg is in the crosshairs.
Her new book, "Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead," is out Monday, and her arguments, focusing on how women in the workplace can grow their careers and their lives, have attracted both praise and denunciation - though, as the New Yorker's Anna Holmes has noted, many of the denouncers have jumped on Sandberg in the "ready, fire, aim" fashion typical of the commentariat.
"Anyone who had read her book would have known that Sandberg herself is the first to acknowledge the debts she owes to the women who came before her, not to mention her youthful naivete and eventual engagement with gender politics," Holmes wrote.
So just who is Sheryl Sandberg, and why are people saying such extreme things about her?
(CNN) - CNN asked readers, staff and previous guests on CNN's Leading Women to share words of inspiration from the women they admire.
A stream of thought-provoking proverbs on love, insightful sayings for successful careers, hints for a healthy life - and plenty of wit in between –follow.
By Vivian Kuo and Michael Pearson, CNN
(CNN) - The U.S. Department of Education has opened an investigation into the handling of sexual assault cases at the University of North Carolina at the request of current and former students, and a former administrator who say the university has long turned a blind eye to such allegations.
"We love UNC," said Annie Clark, the lead complainant. "We're not trying to vilify the university, we're just trying to make it better."
Clark and other students named in this report agreed to be identified by CNN, which does not typically identify the victims of sexual assault.
The investigation comes amid outrage on campus and nationwide over intimidation charges filed in the Chapel Hill, North Carolina, school's student-run honor court against one of the women involved in the complaint.
Investigators from the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights will look into the women's allegations that school administrators brushed aside concerns about sexual violence on campus and failed to adequately investigate complaints of sexual assault, according to a March 1 letter sent to Clark by the agency.
By Annalyn Kurtz @CNNMoney
(CNNMoney)– Doctors are still mostly men, and nurses are almost all women. But pharmacists are another story.
Pharmacists are a fast-growing profession offering a six-figure salary - and the pay is nearly equal for men and women.
"The position of pharmacist is probably the most egalitarian of all U.S. professions today," Harvard economists Claudia Goldin and Lawrence Katz wrote in a paper on the subject they published in September.
Women make up slightly more than 50% of all full-time pharmacists, according to Census data collected in 2011. Once you factor in part-timers, they make up around 55% of the profession.
Full-time female pharmacists earned a median salary of $111,000 in 2011, about 92 cents to the dollar of their male counterparts.
Yes, there's a small pay gap there, but it can be almost entirely explained by some men working longer hours - not discrimination.
Editor's note: Leslie Morgan Steiner, a Washington, D.C., native, is on the advisory boards of the DC Volunteer Lawyers Project, the One Love Foundation and the National Domestic Violence Hotline. She is author of the memoir "Crazy Love." She spoke at TEDx Rainier in 2012. TED is a nonprofit dedicated to "ideas worth spreading," which it makes available through talks posted on its website.
By Leslie Morgan Steiner, Special to CNN
(CNN) - This week, as the Senate decides whether to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act and Valentine's Day approaches, it's worth noting that most domestic violence victims don't ask for roses, chocolate or federal funding. Instead, we have one simple wish: We want the abuse to end.
We don't want the relationship to end.
This fact about "crazy love" surprises many people. How could you still love someone who has hurt you?
The answer is as complicated as love itself. We victims tend to be hope junkies, open-hearted and optimistic. We believe that our loved ones are capable of change. Some would say we are naïve. Others say we are too kind or too forgiving. Often we cannot find the courage to leave an abusive relationship until our life (or our children's safety) has been threatened.
When victims end an abusive relationship, the first thing we need is shelter. This is the No. 1 request made by victims who call the National Domestic Violence Hotline, the federally funded national helpline (1.800.799.SAFE). It is a practical request - a roof over our heads. But it is also an emotional one - the deep need to seek safety and to protect our children from danger.
By Jill Martin Wrenn, CNN
Atlanta (CNN) - Basketball star Lisa Leslie battled her way from the courts of Inglewood, California, to the upper echelons of the WNBA to become one of the most popular women's basketball players of all time.
After retiring from play, Leslie finds herself in a new fight - to gain respect for her beloved sport.
"It's a constant battle," she says. "I feel like I'm an activist for women in sports."
Marking its 17th season this year, the Women's National Basketball Association is the country's longest-running professional women's sports league. But the quest for fans, sponsors and exposure in a sports world dominated by men can be slow, and tough.
The league will celebrate the 27th annual National Girls and Women in Sports Day on Wednesday, with several community events across the country. The occasion will honor female achievement in sports. But some say U.S. attitudes have a long way to go.
By Emanuella Grinberg, CNN
(CNN) - While this year's Super Bowl commercials ran the gamut from sentimental to silly, some were downright offensive to viewers who used the Twitter hashtag #NotBuyingIt to flag what they considered the most sexist spots of the night.
Web host GoDaddy.com earned more than 7,500 #NotBuyingIt tweets for its ad featuring an intimate smooch between supermodel Bar Refaeli and a bespectacled computer programmer, putting it at the top of the list of offenders, according to Miss Representation, the social activism nonprofit leading the Twitter campaign for the second year.
The "Perfect Match" and its "smart meets sexy" tagline drew criticism from men and women for "stereotyping programmers and objectifying women" in the words of one male Twitter user.
"@GoDaddy, continuing the tired stereotype that programmers are geeks, while women are sex objects. Disgusting," a female user tweeted.
Overall, #NotBuyingIt generated more than 10,000 tweets and reached more than 8 million people on Twitter during Sunday's Ravens-49ers showdown, a spokesman for Miss Representation said, citing statistics from Topsy and Hashtag.org.
What defines you? Maybe it’s the shade of your skin, the place you grew up, the accent in your words, the make up of your family, the gender you were born with, the intimate relationships you chose to have or your generation? As the American identity changes we will be there to report it. In America is a venue for creative and timely sharing of news that explores who we are. Reach us at email@example.com.
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