Facebook has named COO Sheryl Sandberg a director, elevating the first woman to a board that includes seven men.
Sandberg, 42, who joined Facebook from Google in 2008 and played a central role in guiding the social network to its IPO in May, has long been a vocal critic of the gender imbalance in Silicon Valley’s executive ranks. She is largely credited with building Facebook’s lucrative advertising business. As well as being the first woman, she is the first Facebook executive other than Mark Zuckerberg on the board.
There had been calls to appoint a female board member since before last month’s IPO but Facebook refused to say it was responding to public appeal and as Zuckerberg’s no. 2 in the company, Sandberg was a logical choice.
“Natural fit for our board”
“Sheryl has been my partner in running Facebook and has been central to our growth and success over the years,” Zuckerberg said in a statement. “Her understanding of our mission and long-term opportunity, and her experience both at Facebook and on public company boards makes her a natural fit for our board.”
Sandberg joins Zuckerberg, Netflix chief Reed Hastings, investors Marc Andreessen, James Breyer, Peter Thiel, Washington Post CEO Donald Graham, and Erskine Bowles, president emeritus of the University of North Carolina system as the eighth board member.
Girls who code
The appointment comes just as a new initiative aimed at redressing the gender imbalance called ‘Girls who code’ is launched in the US. Former deputy public advocate of New York City, Reshma Saujani launched the project earlier this month with the backing of Twitter, eBay, Google, and General Electric. The first eight-week course will take place in New York this summer, where 20 female high school students will work with a tech mentor while also attending classes on coding, design, and entrepreneurship.
According to Saujani, only 3.6% of Fortune 500 companies are women-led and less than 10% of venture capital-backed companies have female founders. But, women use the Internet 17% more than men. Europe faces a similar problem, only last week European Research, Innovation and Science Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn spoke about how Europe needs more female scientists and researchers whilst launching a continent wide campaign in Brussels.
In fact the EU landed in hot water when the science campaign video below had to be pulled over claims that it was sexist. Tell us what you think in the comments below.