Pity the Poor Silicon Valley Execs, Sandberg and Mayer

When will we stop waiting for the women at the top to rescue the rest of us?

by Lesley Jane Seymour • Editor-in-Chief
sheryl sandberg and marissa mayer image
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg (left); Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer
Photograph: © KIMBERLY WHITE/Reuters/Corbis / © Ramin Talaie/Corbis

To some who have been on the front lines fighting this fight for so many decades, this sounds very retro indeed, and they want to sigh and say to the younger generation of women, “There you go again!” Perhaps some older feminists are looking at these Silicon Valley hatchlings who’ve made it big and fast, and in mostly a young man’s world, and wondering if they are somehow heartless Frankensteins. Who might even turn on us! Maybe that is where some of the horror—and the snark—is coming from.

But I say pity these women, for the very same reason Sandberg is put off by the mentor seekers. Pity them because with such a dearth of women at the tippy-top, we want to—no, we insist that we—own them. We assume their every move and utterance symbolizes the advancement (or denigration) of our own cause. We want them to be the feminist queen or messiah we have been waiting for. We thrust all our hopes and dreams on women like Sandberg and Mayer, then are horrified when they don’t behave exactly as we would wish them to.

The real pity, however, is for us: that there are so few successful women in the public eye that we have not yet had the time to work out our own transference issues. And God(dess) help Hillary if she decides to run in 2016!

Lesley Jane Seymour is the editor-in-chief of MORE magazine.

For more about women and work: How To Be Employable in 10 Years.

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Share Your Thoughts!



Jane, such an insightful view of Feminism 2.0. As a successful (albeit not as much as they) corporate executive, I want to tell the younger women that you are not entitled..it is still a struggle. You must take that chance, take that seat at the table, get out of your comfort zone. You must be seen as a leader. Having a mentor is great, but typically, I have looked for a male mentor. They love having a woman look to them for help and they look good to everyone when they are helping a woman. So I usually tell the women who come to me...are you sure you want a woman?
I had one young woman tell me she was sick of hearing how older women have paved the way. It was time for them to move on and retire and let them take over their positions..and thought that women should choose other women just because they are women and should be supported.
I could go on forever...but..young women still have a fight in front of them. What isn't going to change are the expectations of us when we are in senior positions.

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