Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg highlighting the stigma of career moms.

Shared by Sze Ng, PhD, de la Femme co-founder.


The following article really made me think about the difficulties and stigma that face mothers in the workplace.  We, as a society, have a lot of work to do if a high power women like Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg only recently felt comfortable in vocalizing the stigma attached to working mothers.  Here is a glimpse of the article:

Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg Leaves Work at 5:30. Should You?

Facebook’s COO makes the case that there’s nothing shameful about leaving work at 5:30 p.m. every day to eat dinner with your kids. Does she get special dispensation because of her status?
By BONNIE ROCHMAN | @brochman | April 12, 2012 |


That Dolly Parton song in which she warbles about toiling from 9 to 5? As if. With the rise of the Internet, the ubiquity of the smartphone and the need to prove your worth as lay-offs ebb and flow throughout every industry, jobs no longer keep banker’s hours. It can be hard to waltz out of the office while the sun’s still shining, but take a cue from Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg: she leaves work at 5:30 every day to have dinner with her kids. And she’s past making apologies.

Because Sandberg is both a powerful executive and a woman, her decision to publicize her early evening routine has resonated far beyond, which has compiled video clips of “trailblazing” women; Sandberg’s clips reveal what heretofore had been her shady workplace secret:

“I walk out of this office every day at 5:30 so I’m home for dinner with my kids at 6:00, and interestingly, I’ve been doing that since I had kids,” Sandberg says. ”I did that when I was at Google, I did that here, and I would say it’s not until the last year, two years that I’m brave enough to talk about it publicly. Now I certainly wouldn’t lie, but I wasn’t running around giving speeches on it.”

(MORESimple Fix: Family Dinners Help Teens Avoid Drinking and Using Drugs)

With her simultaneous admission that she’s been doing this for years and trying to keep it on the down-low, Sandberg is launching a conversation about why we feel compelled to put job before family. Are we worried about job security? Are we trying to prove ourselves? Are we sticking around because, well, everyone else is? On the other hand, do we truly want nannies to feed our kids dinner every night, then burst through the door only in time to plant a kiss on a sleepy cheek?

Reams of research have highlighted the virtues of the family dinner. It’s not the meat and three that’s special — though with nearly one in five kids obese, it can’t hurt to dish up whole grains, fruits and veggies — but the talk time. Teens who infrequently eat dinner with their families are more than twice as likely as teens who dine with their parents at least five times a week to say they intend to try drugs, according to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University.

The dinner hour is also a time to catch up on everyone’s day before the chaos of bath/book/bed — for younger kids — ensues. I work from home, but even I don’t always make it. Instead, I power through, hoping to turn in my articles so I don’t have to return to work after the kids are asleep.

Women are not just being neurotic about burning the candle at both ends. “We know that working moms are often stigmatized for their child care and family commitments,” says Katrina Leupp, a University of Washington sociology graduate student who has conducted research about the myth of the “Supermom” (tip: moms who try to do it all have higher levels of depression). “If publicity about this removes the stigma, that’s a good thing.”

(MOREWhy Working Mothers Are Happier and Healthier Than Stay-at-Home Moms)

Of course, it’s unlikely that Sandberg’s admission alone will revolutionize attitudes, but it’s a starting point. Indeed, Sandberg’s “secret” has served as a wake-up call for me. These days, most white-collar employees don’t finish by 5:30 — do any of us ever really finish? — but we can put our families first and take a break by using our digitally connected world to our advantage. Being perpetually plugged in can be a curse in that we never really leave work behind. On the other hand, it can double as a blessing because it allows flexibility. Why not wrap up work around 5ish and head home to our families before logging on again? Sandberg alludes to this pattern, admitting she’d dash off emails at crazy hours to show colleagues she was hard-charging and a devoted mom of two.

She says:

I was getting up earlier to make sure they saw my emails at 5:30, staying up later to make sure they saw my emails late. But now I think I’m much more confident in where I am and so I’m able to say, ‘Hey! I am leaving work at 5:30.’ And I say it very publicly, both internally and externally.”

** Continue reading here