The Bellevue ballroom early Thursday morning, the scene of Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s only scheduled local event sponsored by the Free Library, resembled the region’s smartest, most successful sorority, with 1,000 women in attendance.
Instead of lean in, it was rise up.
To be fair, there were some men in attendance.
To be less fair, it would have been nice had there been more.
Sandberg was here to promote her women’s corporate-and-laundry empowerment tome, Lean In, to a grateful crowd of the converted. She is a rock star among educated working women.
Lean In is far better, and more useful, than critics who haven't read it say it is.
“It’s way better to be smart than pretty,” Sandberg cautioned, sipping water through a straw, though the truth is she is clearly both.
This is the woman who didn’t want to be listed as Most Likely to Succeed in her Miami high school yearbook for fear of not getting a prom date. She wasn't. She did. And he canceled.
An exuberant Sandberg cautioned against creating a road map for a career, that she could not have “planned my career in college. There was no Internet.”
The former Google executive noted that “our insecurities makes us feel bad about ourselves” and spoke of “the holy trinity of women’s of fear: Being a bad mother, wife and daughter.” She said her husband, instead, “thinks we’re heroes, saying ‘No one has jobs like us and gets home at six” to be with their two children.
In the audience were Sandberg’s parents. Her mother, almost 70, will soon be bat mitzvahed because when “she was growing up the event was something only for her brothers. So you can change.” Also attending was economist Anita Summers, professor emerita at the University of Pennsylvania, and the mother of Sandberg’s mentor, Lawrence Summers, former president of Harvard and Treasury Secretary.
“I’m not first,” Sandberg said of Anita Summers. “She is.”
Sandberg also said “women have made more progress in the workplace than they have at home” and advised men to change more diapers and do more laundry because “studies show they have more sex.”
There wasn’t a single voice of disapproval in the welcoming crowd.