That is one of the questions Sheryl Sandberg asks as she speaks about her new book Lean In.  Once listed by Forbes as the fifth most powerful woman in the world, Sheryl is creating controversy with the concept that “You can have it all”.

This is a concept that many women have struggled with through the years and quite frankly, I don’t believe anyone can have it all (at least not all at the same time).  That is extremely unrealistic.  What we can do is make choices on how we use our time every day.

We all have the same 24 hours.  The key is learning how to balance everything and that is something very few mothers have figured out.  Sheryl has even said that she feels guilty leaving her kids to go to work.

I have my own opinion about stay-at-home moms and working moms and if I started that discussion here, I think we would find it counter productive.  We should not divide the strength of women by arguing about which side is right.

Women should work together and support each other, regardless of how they choose to try to balance work and family life.  

This balancing act can be extremely difficult.  Women who stay at home raising children have a difficult time.  Women who work outside of the home have a difficult time.  Women who try to work at home while raising children have a difficult time. Women who try to return to work after raising children have a difficult time.

Wouldn’t it be better to have a strong support group with all of us working together to figure out this tricky balancing act and not putting more pressure on women?

Sheryl Sandberg is fighting for women to stand up for more opportunities at work.  She says that there are still major differences between men and women.  Sheryl claims that when women are asked how they succeed, they say it is luck, working hard and helping others.   She says men claim success is based upon their own skills.

According to Catalyst, a non-profit market researcher women make up 51% of the U.S. population and 47% of the workforce, yet only 4% are CEOs and 17% are board members. They also earn, on average, just 77 cents for every $1 for a man, says the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.

In the 2010 TED talk:  Why We Have Too Few Women Leaders, Sheryl told a story about a famous Harvard Business School study on Heidi Roizen, an operator in a company in Silicon Valley who became a successful venture capitalist.

 “In 2002 — not so long ago — a professor who was then at Columbia University took that case and made it Howard Roizen. And he gave the case out, both of them, to two groups of students. He changed exactly one word: “Heidi” to “Howard.” But that one word made a really big difference. He then surveyed the students, and the good news was the students, both men and women, thought Heidi and Howard were equally competent, and that’s good. The bad news was that everyone liked Howard. He’s a great guy. You want to work for him. You want to spend the day fishing with him. But Heidi? Not so sure. She’s a little out for herself. She’s a little political. You’re not sure you’d want to work for her. This is the complication.”

“We have to tell our daughters and our colleagues, we have to tell ourselves to believe we got the A, to reach for the promotion, to sit at the table, and we have to do it in a world where, for them, there are sacrifices they will make for that, even though for their brothers, there are not.”

Sheryl shares the following story:

It was a few years ago, during a meeting with then-Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. The women in the room chose to sit in chairs surrounding the conference table, but not at the table itself.   “Because of their seating choice,” she writes, “they seemed like spectators rather than participants … It was a watershed moment for me. A moment when I witnessed how an internal barrier can alter women’s behavior.”


What would you do if you weren’t afraid?