The XX Factor

Sheryl Sandberg’s Great TED talk

I just watched this absolutely terrific TED talk by Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg and wanted to pass it along. It’s great. She has so much to say about women and leadership and confidence and balancing a career with family, and I think she is so right to say that these are changes we need to make in ourselves, first and foremost.

Just two things I observed that warranted this question: Notice that even though the audience agrees that fathers need to get a lot more comfortable staying home and sharing the kid-care, the thought still is offered (and received) mainly as a laugh line. Same point, inverted, regarding women and their tendency to start planning way too early on how they will balance work and kids – in Sandberg’s version women are a little nuts to worry about this even before they find a boyfriend (again, laughter).

But I think that the real answer here isn’t that women start planning their work-family conflicts too early.  I think that we generally encourage couples to start planning these divisions far too late. I notice that young women in law schools (often without boyfriends) are already agonizing about how to care for their kids and work full-time. That’s not because they are taking themselves out of the game.  It’s because they see it barreling down the tunnel and realize that it affects every decision they make. In my view both men and women need to start thinking about these issues well in advance of having children, and we need to stop seeing that kind of thinking and planning as fanciful or romantic.