Deborah Hill Cone

Deborah Hill Cone is a Herald columnist

Deborah Hill Cone: Why I loathe Facebook leader

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Female boss of social network site views gender equality today quite differently from Germaine Greer.

Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg seems to want the whole world to like her.  Photo / AP
Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg seems to want the whole world to like her. Photo / AP

I've given up trying to dress like Stevie Nicks (crushed velvet, deviated septum) and lately have been attempting to look more like a women's studies lecturer (got dressed in the dark, roman sandals, no makeup).

That might partly explain the incident in Parnell Rd this week which got me thinking about Sheryl Sandberg. I was walking the children to school because - atcha Len Brown - I'm trying to walk more places and not be one of those irksome punters who clog up the roads driving skippies to school.

So there I am tangled up with Spotty the delinquent Dalmatian (sniffs bottoms) and my daughter on her scooter and my son on his trike which I am pushing - actually, don't ask.

There are backpacks and troublesome bike helmets and I am wrestling a cloud of plastic bags to pick up Spotty's poo in case he does a three-bag jobby. So we are perhaps taking up more than our share of the pavement, making too much noise, in some way being too obstructive or pesky in the midst of the morning commuter rush hour.

Which might explain the look that I received as I came face to face with an impeccably groomed career woman with blow-dried hair, a power suit and high heels who needed to negotiate the pavement to get around us. She looked at me with such distaste and contempt it made me shrivel on the inside.

It was only as we wombled away that I realised I was probably doing the same to her. Career woman scowls at mother. Mother scowls back. Not really an incident of note, I know, except once upon a time I used to be that pushy career woman.

This incident made me think Sheryl Sandberg's campaign to reboot feminism is not really going to work. Sandberg, the uber-achieving chief operating officer of Facebook, has written a book called Lean In about how women should stop holding themselves back in their careers and should be more pushy like her.

Unfortunately I can't really think about the message of her book because I am too busy thinking about how much I hate Sheryl Sandberg. See, told you this did not bode well for the sisterhood.

There are so many things I loathe about her I am not quite sure where to start. Except to point out I actually don't hate her because she is successful; I hate her because she is ghastly.

Time magazine says "Inefficiency is abhorrent to Sandberg." The thing is, I wouldn't like a man who said that, why should I like a woman who says it?

Sandberg claims "one of the most important choices a woman makes is who to marry". This from the woman who wants to reboot feminism? Bring back the Germaine Greer-flavour please.

Here is Sandberg on making herself leave the office at 5.30pm. "Every competitive, type-A fibre of my being was screaming at me to stay , but unless I had a critical meeting I walked out that door."

For me, every fibre of my non type-A being was screaming at me to get home to my children.

Even more annoying, this whole campaign of Sandberg's seems like an attempt to get the whole world to like her. "I've got an IQ of 500. Like me, dammit!"

Sandberg talks a lot about a 2003 experiment which found students considered a successful entrepreneur in a case study more likeable when her name was changed to a man's.

She says this was the big "A-ha moment" in her life.

This from the woman who topped her Harvard MBA class?

Women are liked for being soft and men for being powerful. Who knew?

Maybe there are valid reasons why women don't like successful women like Sandberg. She has got where she is because she is self-obsessed, bossy and power-hungry.

And although I have to admire anyone with zeal for changing the world, she runs a social networking site. It is hardly being Aung San Suu Kyi.

So apologies, ladies, I can't get on board with Sandberg's plan to Lean In, because I don't want to be her.

I am sure she would find that hard to understand.

Be that as it may, tomorrow when I walk the kids to school I will look out for pushy women with briefcases and make sure I get right out of their way.

- NZ Herald

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