The Forward 50

Sheryl Sandberg

Sheryl Sandberg

When Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s second-in-command and chief operating officer, took the stage at the Barnard College commencement this past June, the executive pulled no punches. In her speech, she encouraged the all-female graduating class to eschew fear and to make fewer compromises when balancing their professional and personal lives.

The women of her generation had failed to seize the reins of leadership and close the “ambition gap” between men and women, Sandberg, 42, told the graduates. But, she said, “You can do it if you lean in. So go home tonight and ask yourselves, ‘What would I do

if I weren’t afraid?’ And then go do it.” Following the speech, women from a wide generational spectrum praised Sandberg, who has risen to such heights in a male-dominated industry, as a voice of female empowerment.

Her message should come as no surprise, since social activism played such an imperative role in Sandberg’s upbringing. Her parents, Joel and Adele Sandberg, helped establish the South Florida Conference on Soviet Jewry, and newly immigrated Soviet Jews escaping anti-Semitism in the former Soviet Union often stayed at their home. Sandberg’s Harvard undergraduate thesis explored how economic inequality leads to spousal abuse, and she co-founded a group called Women in Economics and Government.

Since leaving a top executive position at Google and joining the Facebook team in 2008, Sandberg has helped the social-networking site to increase revenues. On her watch, Facebook has grown from 70 million active users to about 800 million, solidifying her role as one of the most important players in Silicon Valley.

Plus One

The Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, the Forward requires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, the Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Step into the Iron Dome with Tuvia Tenenbom.
  • What do you think of Wonder Woman's new look?
  • "She said that Ruven Barkan, a Conservative rabbi, came into her classroom, closed the door and turned out the lights. He asked the class of fourth graders to lie on the floor and relax their bodies. Then, he asked them to pray for abused children." Read Paul Berger's compelling story about a #Savannah community in turmoil:
  • “Everything around me turns orange, then a second of silence, then a bomb goes off!" First installment of Walid Abuzaid’s account of the war in #Gaza:
  • Is boredom un-Jewish?
  • Let's face it: there's really only one Katz's Delicatessen.
  • "Dear Diaspora Jews, I’m sorry to break it to you, but you can’t have it both ways. You can’t insist that every Jew is intrinsically part of the Israeli state and that Jews are also intrinsically separate from, and therefore not responsible for, the actions of the Israeli state." Do you agree?
  • Are Michelangelo's paintings anti-Semitic? Meet the Jews of the Sistine Chapel: http://jd.fo/i4UDl
  • What does the Israel-Hamas war look like through Haredi eyes?
  • Was Israel really shocked to find there are networks of tunnels under Gaza?
  • “Going to Berlin, I had a sense of something waiting there for me. I was searching for something and felt I could unlock it by walking the streets where my grandfather walked and where my father grew up.”
  • How can 3 contradictory theories of Yiddish co-exist? Share this with Yiddish lovers!
  • "We must answer truthfully: Has a drop of all this bloodshed really helped bring us to a better place?”
  • "There are two roads. We have repeatedly taken the one more traveled, and that has made all the difference." Dahlia Scheindlin looks at the roots of Israel's conflict with Gaza.
  • Shalom, Cooperstown! Cooperstown Jewish mayor Jeff Katz and Jeff Idelson, director of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, work together to oversee induction weekend.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.