I think Sheryl Sandberg’s intentions are laudable, but $500 million… GIVE ME A BREAK.
Sandberg is not just privileged, she is worth an estimated $500 million. Money can’t buy you love, but it sure as hell purchases a lot of child care. The fact that Sheryl barely mentions her children’s nanny or the crack support team that smoothed her path to Time’s 100 Most Impressive People list is all too typical of the “Look, no hands!” it’s-easy-to-juggle brigade.
To be fair to Sandberg, she is very good on the way that men will have to take their place at the kitchen table to enable women to take theirs at the boardroom version. What really riles in this book, though, is its author’s cool dismissal of the negative “stereotype” of the “harried and guilt-ridden woman” – such as the heroine of my novel I Don’t Know How She Does It – who tries to divide her time between work and family. Guess what? It’s not a stereotype, Sheryl. If you don’t have a chauffeur, a boss who lets you leave work at 5.30pm (as Sheryl does), a team of researchers to write your book, oh, and $500 million in the bank, then guilty and harried are the daily deal.
I will add to these next paragraphs that, as a more average example, I have had to “act like a man” for far less than a position at Lehman Brothers, and I found no partner along the way and never really had the kind of money to throw at fertility treatments even if I wanted to:
Only this week, Erin Callan, former chief financial officer at Lehman Brothers, admitted that the price she paid for working so insanely hard was divorce and not becoming a mother. “I sold myself short,” says Erin, who is now trying for her first baby at the ambitious age of 47. No doubt, this will involve the costly purchase of eggs or the rental of a friendly womb.
If, in order to get a seat on the board, you have to act like a man for 20 years, then sub-contract your biological function to a younger, poorer woman, it’s hardly surprising today’s girls are not exactly queuing up to join Sheryl and the Mrs Alphas.