Inspiring People: Sheryl Sandberg

My friend Ashlee was the president of the Women’s Law Society at Southwestern Law School.  We often talk about our post grad plans.  At some point, our conversations always wander towards the topic of balance.  We talk about what it means to “balance personal success and personal fulfillment.” We’ve both been blessed to have women further along in their careers to guide us.  They present to us the realities of being a woman lawyer.  There are so many issues that face woman attorneys from the male-centric culture to the difficulties of balancing work and a family.  I really appreciate any advice thrown my way.

The New Yorker did a profile on Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer, Sheryl Sandberg.  Although she is not an attorney, she does present insight into pursuing a successful career in a male-dominated culture.  You can read the article here.

She also gave an inspiring commencement speech at Barnard. In her speech she talks about how in seeking balance for responsibilities we don’t yet have, women tend to lean back from their careers instead of pressing into them.  She makes many interesting observations from her 20 years in the workforce.  You can watch it here.

My favorite portions:

“Women became 50% of the college graduates in this country in 1981, 30 years ago.  Thirty years is plenty of time for those graduates to have gotten to the top of their industries, but we are nowhere close to 50% of the jobs at the top.  That means that when the big
decisions are made, the decisions that affect all of our worlds, we do not have an equal voice at that table.

So today, we turn to you.  You are the promise for a more equal world.  You are our hope.  I truly believe that only when we get real equality in our governments, in our businesses, in our companies and our universities, will we start to solve this generation’s central moral problem, which is gender equality.  We need women at all levels, including the top, to change the dynamic, reshape the conversation, to make sure women’s voices are heard and heeded, not overlooked and ignored.

“The first thing is I encourage you to think big.  Studies show very clearly that in our country, in the college-educated part of the population, men are more ambitious than women.  They’re more ambitious the day they graduate from college; they remain more ambitious every step along their career path.  We will never close the achievement gap until we close the ambition gap.”

“Men make far fewer compromises than women to balance professional success and personal fulfillment.”

Southwestern’s Women’s Law Logo

Update: After publishing this post, I realized that Sheryl Sandberg has an uncanny resemblance to the woman in the logo.

(Southwestern Women’s Law Association owns the rights to the logo image. It may not be reproduced or transmitted without approval from the Southwestern Women’s Law Association)

About Yen

Hello! I am a third year law student. This summer I am interning at International Bridges to Justice, a legal non-profit in Geneva. In the Fall, I will be interning for Judge Pocar at the ICTY in The Hague.

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