Sheryl is Wrong: Bossy’s Fine. Let’s Ban Double Standards Instead

As the father of three daughters, I support Sheryl Sandberg’s message that girls can lead. But I don’t support her other messages: First, it’s okay to use half-truths, twisted data, inaccurate and outdated information, and outright lies to get what you want. Second, women and girls aren’t smart enough to make their own life choices. Third, you don’t need to work hard to achieve success—the world owes you something just because you’re female.

Here are just a few examples.
Sandberg wants “equality” in the workplace, and drags out the old canard that there’s a male/female pay gap—and that that gap is the result of discrimination against women. The truth? Yes, the total amount of money earned by men is greater than the total earned by women. But that is largely a function of the different choices men and women make. Men put in about 50% more hours at work than women and, more importantly, men dominate in fields where there is less flexibility, more danger, and higher salaries, while women dominate in fields that offer more flexibility and, unfortunately, less income.

So, Sheryl, how much workplace equality do you really want? Ninety-five percent of people who die on the job are men. And two thirds of the unemployed are men. Where’s the outrage, Sheryl? Do you really want equal representation for males and females?

Sandberg wants equality in education and drags out a completely debunked study that found that classroom teachers call on boys more often than they call on girls. The truth? Yes, teachers address boys more than girls, but the vast majority of those interactions are negative or critical: sit down, be quiet, you’re bad, go to the principal’s office, etc. Of the 10 college majors with the highest earning potential (including petroleum engineering, electrical engineering, and computer science), nine are overwhelmingly staffed by men. Of the 10 majors with the lowest earning potential (including psychology, early childhood education, and social work, nine are overwhelmingly staffed by women.

So, Sheryl, how much educational equality do you really want? Boys are four times more likely than girls to be diagnosed with a learning disability. Fifty-five percent of college applicants are female, 60% of college students are female, and nearly two thirds of undergraduate college degrees are earned by women. The education gap has been going on for more than a decade. Where’s the outrage, Sheryl? Do you really want equal representation for males and females?

Sandberg claims that society doesn’t value women as much as it does men, but she deliberately ignores the facts. The truth? Men live shorter, less healthy lives than women. They’re more likely to be the victim of a violent crime, die in a car crash, or commit suicide. Men have higher death rates in 9 of the top 10 causes of death, and are less likely to receive routine preventative care, leaving men with a life span that is significantly shorter than women’s. There are Offices of Women’s Health sprinkled throughout the Federal government. But there are no corresponding Office of Men’s Health anywhere. President Obama created a special council on women and girls, but completely ignored boys and men.

So, Sheryl, how much life equality do you really want? In healthcare, the NIH alone spends nearly $800 million per year on breast cancer research, but only about $350 million on prostate cancer research—despite the fact that prostate cancer kills nearly as many men as breast cancer kills women. And the lifespan and healthcare disparities between men and women cost the Federal government $140 billion per year in lost tax revenue and extra payments to those who survive the men who die prematurely. Those same disparities cost the U.S. private sector more than $180 billion per year in direct medical payments and lost productivity. Again, where’s the outrage? Do you really want women to have exactly what men do?

As parents, we need to give our children as many opportunities as possible and support them in the choices they make. As a society, we should be doing exactly the same thing for adults. Sadly, Sheryl Sandberg disagrees.
She says that girls and women should be free to make their own choices—but apparently, those choices are valid only if they’re the ones she supports. When women run for Congress, they tend to win. And when women become CEOs, they lose out on time with their family (something men are quite familiar with). Maybe, Sheryl, women don’t want to be exactly 50% of members of Congress of 50% of C-suite executives. Maybe they don’t want to make the sacrifices they’d have to make. Do you really want to force them into it?

Sheryl Sandberg is a smart woman—she wouldn’t have risen to where she is today if she weren’t. And, thanks to her high-profile job and her endlessly deep pockets, she has a massive platform, which she’s using to promote her Ban Bossy campaign. The idea behind it is as good one. But the dishonest, disingenuous, and deceptive way she’s promoted her campaign will do more harm than good to women and girls.