In the summer of 2004, pregnant with her first child, Google executive Sheryl Sandberg had an epiphany: Women in the workforce faced a widening gender gap.
Ever since women went to work in droves in the 70s, leaving a legion of latchkey kids to fend for themselves (yes, I’m looking at you, Mom!), women have experienced an unequal playing field.
The dilemma women face, and the epiphany that surfaced for Sandberg, raised the same question — how does a woman succeed in her career while being a Supermom?
For Sandberg, the epiphany hit during the late stages of a problematic pregnancy.
“One day, after a rough morning spent staring at the bottom of the toilet, I had to rush to make an important client meeting,” she writes in her best-selling book, “Lean In.”
“Google was growing so quickly that parking was an ongoing problem, and the only spot I could find was quite far away. I sprinted across the parking lot, which in reality meant lumbering a bit more quickly than my absurdly slow pregnancy crawl.”
The next day, Sandberg demanded to Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin that they make space for pregnancy parking at the Google campus.
We’re witnesses to an historic era as the gender issues of Caitlyn Jenner and gay marriage make for tectonic shifts in our laws and in our cultural mores. We’re also witnesses to smaller, less divisive gender shifts: of women avoiding gaps in their careers while their husbands increasingly become stay-at-home dads. These men have even formed a group — the National At-Home Dad Network.
Yes, it’s true, gender roles have never been more blurred, and yet…and yet, it doesn’t get to the question of women in the workforce, and, an equally important question — women in retirement.