Nicola Mendelsohn is the Vice President of Facebook in Europe, and at the Fortune’s World Most Powerful Women summit in London yesterday, she had some choice words for members of the European press, concerning how they engage with and report on women in business. Mostly words like “hey, dummies, stop treating us differently than the business dudes.” But we’re paraphrasing.
“When I got my post at Facebook it was all about how I was a mother-of-four who had ‘won’ the position, alongside pictures of my wedding,” she said, referring to the press surrounding her appointment in summer of last year. She also pointed out that many publications took particular note of her 4-day-a-week schedule at a previous company, and wrongfully focused their entire coverage around the misconception that she’d insist on a similar schedule at Facebook (she didn’t). Mail Online, notably, called her a “poster girl” for trying to “have it all.” Yaaaay. Hm, when do you think was the last time somebody called a male executive a “poster boy” and meant it to be a positive thing?
According to The Guardian, Mendelsohn similarly cited Facebook colleague and Lean In author Sheryl Sandberg, and discussed the impact that traditional gender norms can have on individuals from an early age, which can negatively affect women’s chances in larger leadership roles later on:
Like Sheryl has said – little girls are called bossy but boys never are. Girls are told they can’t do maths, they can’t build things, boys are never told they can’t do anything. […] Boys are told they can be whatever they want to be, and they see role models for that. If you look at the role models girls see in the world today, they are not the same. On the whole they are not big business people because there aren’t enough women at the top of companies.
The Fortune’s World Most Powerful Women summit is an annual meeting about “the Most Powerful Women in business, philanthropy, government, education, and the arts,” according to their website. The main conference is held in mid-October every year.
“I wish there was a day when we didn’t need it,” Mendelsohn said of the event. “but the numbers speak for themselves. At the point when we have equality in heads of business, heads of government around the world then we won’t need it, but sadly I think that’s a way off.”
(via The Hollywood Reporter)