XX in Tech

Are You a Sheryl or a Marissa?

Two perspectives on the right kind of office hours.

sherylmarissa Are You a Sheryl or a Marissa?
There are some women who like to situate themselves on the Charlotte to Samantha personality spectrum. Ladybeat prefers our role models a little GOOGlier, as in Marissa “Employee no. 20″ Mayer and former Google VP and current Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg. Thus, we were intrigued to discover their divergent attitudes toward an acceptable hour to leave the office.

Ever since we saw Ms. Mayer give a talk at the 92nd Street Y a few weeks back, her words about burnout have been echoing in heads–you know, in the empty space, where our work-life balance is supposed to be. According to Ms. Mayer “burnout,” is a figment of your imagination. What you experience as the occasional paralysis due to treating your laptop/iPad/Blackberry like a life-partner and waking in a state of panic at the length of your to-do list, she says is merely a matter of finding the one thing that keeps you going and working that into your schedule.

But what if you need a bunch of different things to keep you going as a functional worker during those 130-hour weeks she recommends? Good luck finding the nerve to ask that question after Ms. Mayer reveals that she “pulled an all-nighter every week for the first five years” at Google . . . and so did everyone else. Feeling sheepish about not quite reaching Google-levels? Not for nothing, startups, but you’re probably “working categorically less hard.” The message was clear: Suck it up and learn to sleep on your desk.

In a recent interview, however, Ms. Sandberg revealed a dirty little secret about her own office hours:

“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 said in a new video for Makers.com. ”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.”

Is it just us, or was the “giving speeches on it” line a pointed critique at you know who?

Regardless of whether you’d consider yourself a Sheryl or a Marissa (we’re a Marissa, with Sheryl-like aspirations), surely leaving at 5.30 shouldn’t be something that even Sheryl Sandberg–the woman credited with transforming Facebook into a business–feels ashamed to admit.

Follow Nitasha Tiku on Twitter or via RSS. ntiku@observer.com