Controversial Facebook Chief’s Plan: Changing the Conversation with Women And Girls

At age 13 I got an earful about girls talking to boys with their nipples exposed at a conference. Also, not everyone was very supportive. But I took a step towards treating other girls with the respect they deserve, so the next time I caught my mom making fun of a girl who had removed her bra, I replied: “I told my mom, so you can stop talking about it.” A student in the cafeteria informed me that my words were important and that they could change the entire conversation in the cafeteria. Suddenly, all the jokes about menstruation and female bodily functions were gone. Today, it’s my job to give voice to students who believe their voices deserve to be heard. I’m proud to lead the “Let’s Talk About Women & Girls!” initiative with Newsweek Magazine, taking my example from that lunch counter as an example of how student voices really can change the conversation.

As you may have heard, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg committed to create a more inclusive workplace for women. After working in a Silicon Valley startup, I understand the cultural assumptions that get made about gender differences. I often find myself wondering whether I would be treated differently if I had a foot down in the door with a lot of capital. But that’s not fair for women who are referred to as “down in the weeds,” as if their work is somehow beneath the respect the company lends a man. My employer makes assumptions about my experience that make it easier for a male boss to hire someone else. I understand how much more difficult it can be for women to prove their worth and value than men. To bridge the gap between stereotypes and reality, men and women need to bring our bodies and stories into the workplace, even if we’re not seen as masculine or feminine at first glance.

I get thrown around like a ball on a jungle gym, and they never look back.

If you’re starting a new career, building a stronger business, or just trying to get your foot in the door, doing a little self-care can help you stand out as a woman. Here are some tips:

—Work out at least 3 days a week.

—Take a yoga class or a body of work class.

—Get a massage.

—Use a body scrub or a self-tanner.

—Drink wine and drink a lot of water.

—Stretch.

And for the most effective first “sex” of the year, grab a beer at work and some ice cream on a Monday morning. Take the time to call up your friends, girlfriend friends, best friends, aunties and mothers. Form special relationships with those who support you, and you will be more likely to enter into relationships with women.

Decide now that this shift is a priority for you as a woman and a new mother.

When I go through different transitions in my life, I take great pride in what my colleagues and I have accomplished. I’m so glad to have a platform from which to influence people for the better. As I reflect on my career so far, I could not be more proud of the work I have done to empower women and girls across the globe. My goal is to continue to lend my voice to those who need it the most.

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