Sheryl Sandberg: Devil’s Advocate

Position: Facebook COO

Age: 43

Residence: Atherton, CA

Education: Bachelor of Arts/ Science, Harvard University

Master of Business Administration, Harvard University

Marital Status: Married (David Goldberg, CEO SurveyMonkey)

Children: 2


While women only represent 3% of the CEOs of Fourtune 500 companies, the number of female executives is growing.  Forbes created a list of the top female executives and CEO, amongst them was Indra Nooyi, Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo; Oprah Winfrey, Chairman of Harpo; Meg Whitman, CEO of Hewlett-Packard; Irene Rosenfeld, Chairman and CEO of Kraft Foods and Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook.


Mark Zuckerberg hired Sandberg in 2008; she was responsible for the online advertising sector of Facebook.  Under her leadership the decision was made to rely on ads for generating revenue.  This decision made is responsible for the company’s enormous growth and initial public offering.

Before Facebook, Sandberg served as chief of staff for the U.S. Treasury Department under President Bill Clinton and managed Google’s online global sales and operations as a vice president.


Many women struggle to find the balance between managing a successful career and motherhood.  Sandberg believes it is possible to have both; her and her husband have found that balance.

“I don’t believe in ‘having it all,'” she says. “But I do believe in women and men having both a successful career and family. The more women we get into positions of power, the more likely we’ll get that.”


Sandberg is also an activist and spokesperson for women in the workforce.

Sheryl Sandberg: Why we have too few women leaders

However, studies show that not all millennials are buying what Sandberg is preaching.

Although Millennials want a successful career, they also want time for a thriving personal life.

I chose Sheryl Sandberg as devil’s advocate because she stands up to the media and defies their imposed gender roles in a different way than Newsom and Miss Represented.



The Other Side

Women are not the only ones who are poorly portrayed by the media; men are victims too. All groups are stereotyped, men included. Creating a view or opinion of a person or group based on narrow and often incorrect assumptions is powerful and damaging. Stereotypes affect our expectations of a certain person or group. The way the media portrays men limits our notions of what men can do and be. It also affects what women expect from men in relationships and what is expected of men in the work place and in friendships.

Our society associates male with masculinity. If you are not masculine, you are not a “real” man or so Americans think. Starting at a young age, media messages tell boys that they have to be strong, courageous, athletic, unemotional and manly.

The documentary Tough Guise examines the relationship between media messages and the creation of masculine identities in the U.S. Filmmaker Jackson Katz links violence in American society with the crisis of fulfilling the identity of masculinity.

I want to live in a world where boys and men are free to choose whatever lifestyle suits them and they do not have mask their feelings.

It’s a Man’s World

Women make 85% of all consumer purchase decisions on everything from cars to groceries to health care and spend $5 trillion annually on consumer goods. (She-conomy)

Have you ever stopped to think who influences women on purchase decisions? Who tells them which product or brand best fits their needs? The answer is the media. Who is the controlling force behind the media? The answer is men.

Rupert Murdoch- News Corporation CEO

Rupert Murdoch

Glenn Britt- Time Warner Cable CEO

Leslie Moonves- President and Chief Executive Officer CBS Corporation

Moonves with his wife Julie Chen

Steve Burke- Executive Vice President of Comcast and CEO/President of NBC Universal

Robert Iger- Chairman and Chief Executive Walt Disney Company

Robert Iger

With men in the powerful and influential positions in the top media corporations, they are not only telling us what to buy but also who to be, how to look and how to behave.

Images like these or even more extreme are constantly used by the media because “sex sells”.  However using advertising tactics such as portraying women as sex icons and subordinates to gain profit is not sending positive messages to young girls.  In order for young girls to believe that they are capable of becoming influential and attaining powerful positions they need to see it in print and online advertising and on television.




“In the 2010-11 prime-time television season, women accounted for 25% of all creators, executive producers, producers, directors, writers, editors, and directors of photography working on situation comedies, dramas, and reality programs airing on the broadcast networks.”(Media report to women).


Only three percent of advertising agency creative directors are women; however 85 percent of all brand purchases are made by women (sheconomy).  This means that most of what we hear and see from television and print media is created by men. They control the content that young women are exposed to on a daily basis.


Girls and young women are a primary audience of this blog because they need to be educated on the ways media affects their ability to envision themselves as leaders and be considered as future leaders by society.  “In one week American teenagers spend 31 hours watching TV, 17 hours listening to music, 3 hours watching movies, 4 hours reading magazines, 10 hours online. That’s 10 hours and 45 minutes of media consumption a day.” (  For the majority of the time teenagers are awake they are being sent messages by the media and essentially being influenced by the messages they receive.


The Beauty and The Brains

Meet Jennifer Siebel Newsom

After graduating from Stanford University, Jennifer Siebel Newsom went into acting.  During her career as an actress she experienced the harsh impact of the media’s scrutiny first hand.  She is now a filmmaker, speaker and advocate for women and girls.  As well as founding, Newsom is also the founder and CEO of Girls Club Entertainment, LLC, which produces films that empower women.

Newsom is also the mother of two young children and resides in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband, California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom.


I am inspired by Newsom’s mission to educate young girls on the effects that media imposed gender roles has on society.  I want to assist her with her vision.  As my change agent, I challenge Newsom to do more.  I want Newsom to not only target young girls but also young women in college.

As a college senior the words and phrases “the real world” “future aspirations” “career” and “success” are looming buzzwords.  I see my friends and fellow students choosing career paths and focuses based on their gender.  Although gender restrictions for jobs are lessening, they do exist.  Personally, I did not even consider some professional fields because I classify them as a masculine job.  I want Newsom to educate college age women so that we are empowered to choose whatever career path interests us, become aware of the media’s influences effect our perceptions of gender and how to reject such influences.

Pledge This

As college students, some of you may be more familiar with pledging process than others.  This is different, it is a pledge for change and a call to action. Click on the link below to help make a change and take steps toward a brighter and more equal future for all.

“I pledge to use my voice to spread the message of Miss Representation and challenge the media’s limiting portrayal of women and girls”

Tens of thousands have already taken the pledge, and even more are joining the campaign on Twitter and Facebook. These small actions are making a big difference. Together we are amplifying the voices of women and girls everywhere, motivating men and boys to stand up to sexism, and taking steps to shift our culture towards equality. Join the campaign today!




Miss Representation


The documentary Miss Representation first premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2011. is more than just a film, it is a social action campaign with the mission to educate the public about the effects the media has on our culture and self-perceptions.


The film and campaign strives to change the way women and girls are portrayed by the media and to create a culture where people feel capable of achieving their full potential despite gender.


Stirring The Pot

America is a “melting pot” of people from many cultures with all different backgrounds, values and beliefs.  Members from both sides of my family immigrated to San Francisco from Italy in search of a better life and with hopes of achieving the “American Dream”.  They ditched their native tongue and cultural norms to adopted the American way.  However, it took me travelling back to my ancestors’ native land, Italy, to have an epiphany about today’s American society.

Last spring I studied abroad in Florence, Italy.  Although I did take some enjoyable cultural classes, I also took classes that pertained to my focus at Chapman.  My Media Ethics professors showed a film called Miss Represented.  Jennifer Seibel Newsom, the wife of a Californian politician made this documentary.  It uncovers the truth that many people over look everyday.  This documentary reveals how the media contributes to the under representation of women in powerful and influential positions in America. It aroused me to think about the amount of influence the media has on each of us, male and female.  It impacts the choices we make from the clothes we wear, to the car we drive, to the career path we choose.

Due to technology and social media even citizens of different countries are exposed to and can see the influential force we call the media.  As an aware and conscious citizen, I feel it is my responsibility to educate and make my sphere of influence aware of the power of the media.

My Stimulant Story

When I get together with my family, they love to reminisce and tell stories about my brother and I from our childhood.  My parent’s favorite story involves a blonde curly headed two-year-old, an energetic and serious four-year-old and a young nurse.

Pink or Blue? What are you?

When I was two, my mom took my brother and me for our annual doctor checkups.  I was due for some shots and like any two year old I cried.  Alarmed by my crying, my brother goes up to the nurse, kicks her in the shin and yells, “Don’t hurt my sister!”  The nurse looks at my mom and says, “I don’t know if I should get mad at him or hug him.”

My father now gives him a high five for this story because he was doing his job of being the protector.  At just four-years-old he knew that as my big brother and as a male his duty was to protect and to look out for me even if that meant using violence.

Although this story is adorable, it is also alarming. Starting at a young age males automatically play the hero protector role and females assume the weak and helpless role.  For a long time I have pondered why this is.  I have come up with one guilty culprit, the media.

From the moment people are born, society immediately classifies them into a gender role.  The little blue or pink blanket that a newborn is swaddled in will have an undeniable impact on their future. For the rest of our lives the color of that blanket will guide our actions and for the most part decide who we become.