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Sheryl Sandberg Talks Women, Leadership and 'Lean In' on Daily Show

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Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg was on The Daily Show Wednesday to promote her book Lean In. The book has been called a must-read by our Scott Eblin and has caused a great deal of discussion online. Because of the time limits for broadcast, Comedy Central posted an extended interview online with Sandberg in which she and host Jon Stewart talked work-life balance, gender and leadership.

Stewart opened the interview bringing up the controversy surrounding Sandberg’s book within the feminist and mainstream blogopshere. Sandberg said her book is “about who we are as individuals, who we are as parents,  as workers, as colleagues.” She said that she wrote Lean In because “Men still run the world and I’m not sure that’s going that well” as The Daily Show audience howled with approval.

While Sandberg mentioned the progress women have made in the working world, she lamented that women have made it to “every level, except the top,” calling it a “plateau” and “stagnation” of women’s achievement. Sanberg mentioned barriers such as “discrimination,” “terrible public policy” and “sexism,” but noted that stereotypes and expectations of girls and women starts very early.


“Go to a playground this weekend and you’ll hear little girls called ‘bossy.’ You won’t hear little boys called ‘bossy’ because we expect boys to be assertive and lead,” she said.

When asked about the inherent differences between men and women,  Sandberg pivoted and talked about how children are educated to be working people. In explaining that biological differences exist, Sandberg said that “leadership is not an innate characteristic.”


“And so Lean In is trying to change [the way we teach leadership]. Rather than calling our little girls ‘bossy,’ we should say ‘my daughter has executive leadership skills.’”

Watch the full extended interview below:

Prior to joining Government Executive’s staff, Ross Gianfortune worked at The Washington Post, The Gazette Newspapers, WXRT Radio and The Columbia Missourian. He holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from University of Missouri and a master's in communications from the American University.

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