Yesterday Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg returned to her twice-over alma mater (undergrad and grad degrees) to give a commencement speech at Harvard Business School. And no, she did not deign to discuss the company’s rather messy IPO, thank you very much. Instead she talked about, among other things, the tech world’s gender imbalance. Perhaps she also caught the livestream of yesterday’s venture capital panel at TechCrunch Disrupt?
“We need to acknowledge openly that gender remains at issue at the highest levels,” she told a crowd of students and their families assembled Wednesday afternoon on a lawn outside the business school library alongside Boston’s Charles River. Only about 16 percent of the highest corporate jobs are held by women, the same level as a decade ago, she noted.
Ms. Sandberg made just one mention of Facebook’s going public, reports Reuters: “After urging the graduates to use Facebook to stay in touch, she said: ‘We’re public now, so could you please click on an ad or two while you’re there.’” Asked to comment about the IPO, says Reuters, she said she wasn’t speaking to the media.
We can’t help but point out that yesterday, Ms. Sandberg was herself a passive figure in a gender-related Internet scuffle. A Forbes contributor wondered whether Facebook’s resident grownup might be rather too concerned with Vogue photo shoots, suggesting she should be wary of the dangers of becoming merely Silicon Valley’s new “it girl.”
After howls of outrage from Twitter, he has since issued an apology.