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Sheryl Sandberg, 'Lean In' Author, Slammed for Advice to Working Women

By Alexandra Ward   |   Monday, 11 Mar 2013 01:33 PM

Facebook's Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg is not a role model, critics said, after she appeared on the cover of Time magazine last week to promote her new book, "Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead."

On shelves Monday, "Lean In" is a "sort of feminist manifesto" that addresses how women in the workplace can grow their careers. Surprisingly, the book is drawing backlash from the women it seeks to help.

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Sandberg isn’t a pioneer committed to hoisting women to senior positions, critics say, but a Harvard-educated privileged millionaire who doesn’t know the first thing about being a working mother.

Connie Schultz, Washington Post

"Sandberg barely mentions the millions of single mothers in the workplace. She does, however, advise women on how to find a supportive spouse — who, in her book, is almost always male. Ambitious lesbians will have to find their tutorial elsewhere."

Amanda Hess, Slate.com

"The more Sandberg attempts to shoehorn her own career lessons into the 'lean in' framework, the more confusing her advice becomes. Sandberg encourages women to take a seat at the table, raise their hands, and speak up, even as she recognizes that higher-ups often perceive women who do so to be running their mouths or interrupting men."

Joanne Bamberger, USA Today

"Guilt is never a good motivator. [Yahoo CEO Marissa] Mayer and Sandberg, even if they have good intentions, are setting back the cause of working mothers. Sandberg's argument, that equality in the workplace just requires women to pull themselves up by the Louboutin straps (though she does acknowledge the need for a shift in national policy for working families) is just as damaging as Mayer's office-only work proclamation that sends us back to the pre-Internet era of power suits with floppy bow ties. Both these approaches are leaving a bad taste in the mouths of many working mothers who don't have the income or family luxuries of these uber-women."

The Daily Beast columnist Michelle Goldberg defended Sandberg and called the criticism of her book and ideals "absurd."

"These attacks, largely divorced from anything Sandberg has actually written or said, mean that there's already a lot of public misunderstanding of her book’s message," Goldberg wrote. "One would think she was peddling a multilevel marketing scheme, not the most overtly feminist mainstream business book ever written."

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Sandberg, 43, joined Facebook in 2008 after working at Google and previously serving as chief of staff for the U.S. Treasury Department.

Related stories:

Facebook Chief: Employers Should Ask Women About Child Plans

Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg Sells $7.44 Million in Stock After Lock-Up

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