If you can bend, you can bend too
When Bill Gates left Microsoft’s board in 2020 to pursue philanthropy, people conveniently overlooked allegations of his intimacy with a former employee that might have prompted such a move. And by the time Jack Dorsey decided to quit Twitter in his 40s, people believed in his higher love and calling, seeing a bigger purpose behind his flowing beard, ice baths and daily meals. Yet when Sheryl Sandberg, considered the goddess of technology and as valiant creator of Meta as Mark Zuckerberg, left her pedestal, all hell broke loose.
While her predecessors were hailed as agents of change, she was denounced as a quarantine freak. His sin? Choose “to write the next chapter of his life”, favor family life and pursue philanthropy in the service of women. For all her clarity of thought at 52, daring to make the next half of her life count in different ways, she was not considered noble like Gates or the sexy mystic like Dorsey. All she was faced with was one big question – “Why now?” – with the conspiracy theories that flow from it. Unfortunately, Sandberg, despite all the glass ceilings she had shattered throughout her life, had all the shattered shards heading her way.
Was she running from controversies like Cambridge Analytica, unethical data leaks and biased policies? Serious charges indeed. Does anyone stop to think that she might have felt suffocated enough from the toxicity of it all and decided to go outside rather than stay inside? Why doesn’t anyone consider that she has made millions during her tenure and is resourceful enough to start anything she wants?
Most surprising was the attack on her by her own, the women she reached out to through her charitable foundation, Lean In, which aims to see women in 50% of board positions. and 50% in the labor force. For someone who had been right not to abandon working mothers, they simply accused her of betraying the feminist cause, trading her hard-earned position for personal comfort, and being hypocritical about continue to work for the cause of women.
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In an instant, Sandberg was seen as trivializing the criticality of her mission. And by giving up her position as a role model, she was seen as a supreme traitor to the cause and reinforced stereotypes that women lacked the courage to go all the way. In an instant, people had turned his moment of change into a moment of surrender. Some even spoke ill of his “Lean In” initiative as just a shiny document of what male techpreneurs were already doing, taking leadership in a digital world completely disconnected from real issues.
Yet Sandberg only embodies the real problems. It doesn’t matter that a 52-year-old widowed woman has a right to be happy, too, and simply gives herself a time-out to restart, stabilize her new ship, merge “her extended family of five children (fiancé’s children Tom Bernthal and his two teenage boys.) Since when were working women anti-family or some other kind? Most average women look to the 50s as an age of reconciliation, happy to let their professional confidence trump their thirst for competition, comfortable letting their kids go their own way, and eager to relax rather than start all over again. Sandberg showed us that she has the courage to unlearn and relearn. For all Lean In discussions Regarding privileged women, the foundation is also dedicated to addressing the challenges of women on the fringes and challenging ageist biases for middle-aged women in the workplace.
Sandberg herself once said, “As we age, our challenges are heightened.” In a fitter world, where working life is increasing, why are women still seen as overworked or burnt out? If men at 52 can be rehired and retrained for the depth of their experience, so can women, who are much more flexible, adaptable and don’t mind starting over. Aggressiveness and talent are ultimately independent of gender. Yet women are not courted despite the businesses they helped create. Enough said, nothing to do. Credit Sandberg for trying to do something.