It is no secret that the lady economists here are big fans of Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg (check out her commencement speech at Harvard Business Schools 2012 graduation). Ms. Sandberg is continuing the good fight with her recent talk at the World Economic Forum in Davos, as reported by the Guardian. As a woman who has overcome gender stereotypes in the workplace, she continues to remind us that stereotypes exist and are career barriers to women. In her talk, she pointed out that girls are encouraged to be “pretty like mommy” and boys are encouraged to be “smart like daddy” in the cutesy shirts sold to parents.
Furthermore, women are still expected to be in control of domestic responsibilities at home despite their careers. Any deviation from this family structure is just that, a deviation (a nod to Nobel economics Gary Becker who describes women who want to learn masculine skills and professions, and basically do anything besides become a housewives, are “deviant” in his Theory of the Family).
I continue to admire Ms. Sandberg so much for being vocal about the role of gender in women’s working lives and personal lives. Having a woman who has, for the most part, “made it” remind us that it is still not easy for her or any other woman to do so is a really important discussion to continue to have publicly, in our workplaces and in our homes.