Sunday's New York Times Business Section often profiles a CEO of a Fortune 500. I always look forward to these profiles, because I'm curious what makes such driven individuals tick. What are their unique personality traits or talents that propelled them to the top of the business world? Do they have a unique vision for the business world? Did they see opportunities that everyone else missed?
This Sunday, the New York Times focused on Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook. With Facebook's recent IPO offering, a profile on Sandberg was an obvious choice.
Nearly the entire article was devoted to the subject of how she combines her role as a mom with her career. Work-family balance is an important topic. As a mom, I have struggled with combining a career with my family's needs. However, the New York Times seems obsessed with this topic when it comes to women CEOs. They never ask a male CEO how he balances work-family, just the women. Don't men have kids, too?
I guess I'm not the only one who was annoyed by this column. Rebecca Rosen is annoyed that the New York Times credits Sandberg's success with good "luck," rather than hard work. Penelope Trunk says that the New York Times failed to give the complete picture of what child-care looks like in a family with two hard driven inviduals who work in the tech industry. Multiple nannies are required to watch the kids. She says that you can't run a startup and expect to see your kids. She doesn't think that most women would be willing to make that trade off. Others, like Jezebel, are annoyed that Sandberg blames the victim, women, for lack of ambition for their lack of corporate accomplishments. Katy Waldman says that women do need to fight to get to the top and defends Sandberg.
Sandberg made it to the top, not only because of luck and ambition, but because she played by rules. She didn't take off time to watch the kids when they were young. She didn't take lower positions or refuse to travel for business. She played by the rules. The trouble is that the rules don't work for most families. I would rather see a focus on leaders, both male and female, who made it to the top and did NOT play by the rules. Because the rules suck.
Other links: Sheryl Sandberg's TED speech.