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When critics 'Lean In': Who is Sheryl Sandberg?

  • Sheryl Sandberg is Facebook COO and author of 'Lean In'
  • Her new book about women in the work force is stirring controversy
  • What do you think: Is it business or is it personal?
When critics 'Lean In': Who is Sheryl Sandberg?
Sheryl Sandberg

Name: Sheryl Sandberg
Title: Chief Operating Officer, Facebook
Alternative titles: Author of “Lean In,” wife, mom of two
Why you should care: Because in her new book, the 10th most powerful businesswoman (according to Forbes) explains why women are still struggling to keep up with men in the work force.

In the book "Lean In" (out Monday), Sheryl Sandberg -- who has held positions like Chief of Staff to the Treasury Secretary under the Clinton administration and vice president of global online sales and operations at Google -- says the key to women’s success and leadership at work is being ambitious, or “leaning in.” That stance is sparking a contentious discussion about women's equality (or lack thereof) in the work place.  

"Over the last 10 years in the work force, I was so alarmed as more men were leaning in and progressing. And women were working the same hours, working just as hard. But not getting the promotion, not getting paid as much," Sandberg told ABC News.

Her supporters praise Sandberg for standing up for women despite being encouraged to stay mum about women’s issues. They applaud her desire for work-life balance and hope her work will change the conversation -- and hopefully policy -- when it comes to working women.

So where’s the controversy, you ask? Sandberg’s adversaries say the Harvard grad twice-over is privileged and doesn’t know the first thing about being a working mom, according to CNN.

Sandberg acknowledges she is “lucky” to have the resources, education, and support of powerful people in her life. "I feel really grateful to the people who encouraged me and helped me develop," she told CNN. "Nobody can succeed on their own."

She says that’s precisely the reason behind “Lean In,” the book and the nonprofit organization that helps women band together, speak out, and gain the confidence to be ambitious. Sandberg also hopes "Lean In" will help break the stereotypes that hold women back at work. 

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