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Leaning In with Sheryl Sandberg

Christine H., Assistant Director of MBA Admissions, attended Sandberg's recent presentation at the GSB and shares her impressions.

The expression "Lean in" isn't new to HR professionals who have been using it for years. But Sheryl Sandberg, COO at Facebook and author of Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, wants to make it a movement. On 2 April, Sandberg gave the Jing Lyman Lecture at Stanford, presented by the Clayman Institute for Gender Research. Speaking to a packed house at GSB's Cemex Auditorium, she encouraged the audience to "do that one thing you think you can't do."

Sandberg focused on women "owning" their own success. She also urged the audience to become aware of, and have conversations about, gender bias. Some of the statistics Sandberg cited were startling. Only 14% of the top jobs in corporate America are held by women, and that number has not changed much in the past 10 years, despite the fact that women now outnumber men in earning undergraduate degrees (they also account for 43% of all GMAT test takers). Little has changed on the home front as well. Men account for just 4% of all stay at home parents. Why? Sandberg encouraged more discussion. She suggested that stereotypes are self-perpetuating, but knowledge can lead to change.

That is why Sandberg, along with Rachel Thomas, Debi Hemmeter and Gina Bianchini (MBA '01), founded leanin.org, an online community where women and men can go to educate and empower themselves, and support one another. Many of the educational materials available on leanin.org are produced in partnership with the Clayman Institute, and include videos from the Voices & Influence program which features GSB faculty, students, and alumnae.

Whether you want to join the conversation, or are just curious about what others have to say, check out leanin.org. And if you want to get a taste of some of the subjects that are taught at the GSB, watch these videos and learn about influence and power from Professor Deborah Gruenfeld, or discover the power of stories with Professor Jennifer Aaker.

There was one question Sandberg asked that I suspect many audience members are still thinking about: "What would you do if you weren't afraid?"

- Christine H.

Watch the complete video of Sheryl Sandberg's presentation.