Meet The Businesswoman Who's Blazing A Trail For The Women Of Gen-Y, Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg

Amidst all the rallying that Facebook has done to regain its value, against the backdrop of increased success found in generated ad dollars from the company's mobile apps, at least one executive at the social network has made a significant and tangible profit.

COO Sheryl Sandberg, the woman who serves as second-in-command to CEO Mark Zuckerberg, sold 2.4 million shares of Facebook yesterday, raking in a total of $91 million dollars. The sale of said shares, which amount to 5% of Sandberg's stake in Facebook, comes as part of an agreement that will see the exec continue to have her shares sold at different points in time leading up to the year 2022.

The deal also requires the shares to be sold at varying dates without Sandberg's knowledge, so as to avoid accusations of insider trading, which makes Facebook's summer surge all the more important for the woman seated at the right hand of the social network's father. With the company having returned to the initial value it began trading at ($38 per share during May 2012, its IPO date) as opposed to, say, around $18 per share (a low which was reached during Facebook's toughest of times during the past year), it goes without saying that Sandberg has made more money.

But the fact that a businesswoman has made such a big amount of cash in one day is just the stylish point in a story that has more than enough substance for the 43-year-old that not only takes delight in her own success, but also the idea that more and more like her can do the same.

"I want women to get paid more," Sandberg told The Guardian in March. "I want to teach them to negotiate so they get paid more."

Sanberg is an Ivy League graduated who earned degree from Harvard as both an undergrad and an M.B.A. student. Before joining Facebook, she worked in Washington D.C. as the Chief of Staff to the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury under Bill Clinton and at Google as the Vice President of Global Online Sales and Operations.

When Mark Zuckerberg came calling in 2007, the don extended an offer that she thought was "perfect." That is, until she came to the realization, with the help of those closest to her, that "no man would take the first offer," a thought that hints at a consciousness, on Sandberg's part, of her own mindset in the workplace in comparison to men.

Now, years after going back to the negotiation table and landing the very deal that has earned her so much money today, she's written a book called "Lean In: Women, Work And The Will To Lead," which aims at inspiring women to rise above the stereotypes that can make females self-conscious about their own progress and propel their selves towards the top of their fields.

"This is personal and this runs deep," she told Jon Stewart during an appearance on The Daily Show in April. "This is about who we are as individuals, who were are as parents, as workers, as colleagues and, you know, it's personal for me too. So, I'm grateful for that debate because I wrote 'Lean In' because I'm worried that the blunt truth is men still run the world. And I'm not sure that's going that well."

Sandberg's book acknowledges much of what we know or, at the very least, accept as valid opinions about gender relations in the world today. Women have progressed over the years in many respects, but sexism very much serves as a barrier to more of that progress for some women. More than that, however, Sandberg makes a point to note the stereotypes that females are subject to from a young age.

The mindset, she argues, is more of a problem than anything else.

"We're held back by lots of things. We're held back by sexism and discrimination and terrible public policy," she told Stewart. "But we're also held back by the stereotypes. You know, go to a playground this weekend and you'll hear little girls called bossy. You won't hear little boys called bossy because we expect boys to be assertive and lead. And so 'Lean In' is trying to change that."

What she hopes is the result, and what she pushes for in general when she advocates outside of the book as well, is that women will increasingly come to realize that they do not have to hold back in aspiring to hold positions of authority. On the other hand, she also pushes for men, who she says carry the burdens of stereotypes as well (mainly the idea that they have to provide, seemingly, everything), to work towards constructing a society in which women can feel comfortable and encouraged to pursue higher goals.

“I am hoping that each woman will set her own goals and reach for them with gusto,” Sandberg says in her book. “And I am hoping that each man will do his part to support women in the workplace and in the home, also with gusto.”

Despite the urge people may feel to take issue with the way in which Sandberg delivers her message -- some people definitely have -- few can deny the nobility of the cause that she's gotten behind: lifting the sense of self-consciousness off women who may, subconsciously, limit themselves and their potential as a result.

But beyond all the inspiration and all the advocacy that Sandberg has done in a literary respect, it should not be forgotten that the author behind the book is also a chief executive behind one of the companies that has defined this very era. When considering the fact that Facebook has gone from a business at which “there was this open question:," as she told the New Yorker. "Could we make money, ever?” to an enterprise generating hundreds of millions in revenue each year, it only adds to the praise that she deserves as both a writer, feminist and a businesswoman.

"After all," as NPR reminds us, "Zuck may have founded Facebook, but Sheryl Sandberg monetized it."

Photo courtesy Wiki Commons