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Saturday 4 February 2023 Dublin: 9°C
Sheryl Sandberg applauds a "lean in" circle of young Irish women.
Sandberg: 'If you want to do something nice for your wife, don't buy flowers, do the laundry'
Sheryl Sandberg talks gender equality, women leaning in, asking for raises and not being afraid to be ambitious.

SHERYL SANDBERG AUTHOR of Lean In and COO of Facebook was speaking in Dublin yesterday on ways women are held back through gender biases and how women and men need to work together to create a more equal society, in both the workplace and at home.

Addressing a large crowd of mainly women in Facebook’s European headquarters in Hanover Quay, she said she added new chapters to her bestselling book “Lean In: Women, work and the will to lead” because she was getting a lot of questions from young graduates asking – “how do I find a job and how do I negotiate as a woman”.

“I really believe women need to come into the work force leaning in… men are leaning in the minute they get a job and are banging down doors for opportunities,” she said, stating that women should be doing likewise.

She said the issue of women having children is a key issue if women are going to get ahead in the workplace. Speaking about women who return to work after having children, she asks the crowd:

“Raise your hand if you have been asked, ‘should you be working?’ Now raise your hand if you are man who has been asked that.”

Lean In 

Since the publication of her book in 2013, the “Lean In” movement has spread all over the world.

Women across the world have set up Lean In circles, which are made up of a group of women who meet up to discuss career issues and to generally offer support and advice to one another.

unnamed Christina Finn Sheryl Sandberg addressing a crowd at Facebook's European headquarters in Dublin yesterday. Christina Finn

Sandberg said it was her ambition to have a couple of hundred of circles set up around the country, but today there are over 16,000 Lean In circles around the world.

Pointing over to a group of young women, Sandberg said she was lucky to meet a great Irish Lean In circle.

“Stand up girls,” she said, gesturing them to show their faces.

Sandberg said the group of eight young women who had set up their circle had had great success, with four of the women have successfully moved jobs, while all eight of the young women have successfully negotiated salary raises.

Sandberg clapped the women on in congratulations of their achievements, which is what she said leaning in is all about. 

photo (5) Christina Finn Screens with the Lean In message at Facebook HQ. Christina Finn

Tearing up

Getting visibly emotional and tearing up, Sandberg said:

I cannot wait to see the world we will have if there are women like this running it.

When asked why she wrote the book in the first place, she said:

I wanted to tell the women and men the things I wish people had told me about what I was capable of achieving…
The book doesn’t say you should work all night or women should be like men. What I want is equal opportunity for women to be able to decide to do what they want to do.

Sandberg said that motherhood can be a penalty for women, stating “women who are not mothers do better than those that do have children,” she said, adding, “you should be able to leave your career for a time and come back”.

She said that many women ask her when they should have children. Should they be having them early, or later, and what would be best for their career.

Sandberg said she has known women that have children at various ages, stating that it is the supports that are there that make a difference, and saying “women should be able to have children whenever they want”.

When asked about whether gender quotas were the answer, she said they were not the only solution to the gender problem, saying:

“Even when they’re used, and used successfully, they have not moved other metrics,” she said, using Norway as an example where larger boards must have at least 40 per cent female participation, but where the percentage of female chief executives is still very low.


Speaking about what role men have to play she said “equal opportunity is what I want. Less than 4 per cent of men stay at home. That’s gender not equal opportunity, that’s gender”.

She said that it is not about men versus women but states that men will see the improvements too once there is gender equality:

“We are not going to get equality in the workforce until we get equality in the home. Full stop.”

One comment that gave rise to a laugh was when Sandberg said:

I think it’s funny when fathers say they are ‘babysitting’ their own kids. Parenting – for either parent – is not a hobby.


She talked about the importance of men supporting women in creating equality for all, stating that time is what is precious to women:

 If you want to do something nice for your wife, don’t buy flowers, do the laundry.

She told the women to be “picky” about who they date and who they ultimately pick as their life partner, stating that although it is not “first date” material to be discussing, it is important to ensure that the man or partner in your life is on the same page as you in terms of goals and also home and work management.

However, she said that although women should be able to choose the life they want, she said women always end up feeling guilty.

Women feel bad, in the workplace or at home. Whatever decision they make.

Women being described as aggressive or being too ambitious is another one of Sandberg’s pet peeves.

“I remember when Hilary Clinton was described as being too ambitious when she was running for president. She was running for president, of course she was ambitious. Do you think a man who is running gets described as being too ambitious? No.”

Sandberg also asked the crowd of women if they were told in work that they were aggressive, questioning the same thing – would a man be told this.


“When you hear a girl being called bossy, say that girl isn’t bossy, that girl has executive leadership skills,” she said.

Sandberg is a highly successful business woman, as well as being a bestselling author.

She has worked for some of the world’s conglomerates such as Google and now Facebook, a job she says she loves. However, in some circles she is being tipped to enter politics and run in 2016.

However, when asked if she feels the pressure to run, she said she feels no pressure to run, adding that she feels like she is doing enough “leaning in” in the business world right now.

“I do think it is very important have women leaders in business as well as in politics,” she said.

Read: Facebook boss Sheryl Sandberg is now one of the world’s youngest billionaires>

Column: Banning the word ‘bossy’ won’t help women>

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