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Lean-In’s Sheryl Sandberg Apparently Can’t Afford to Pay Interns After Netting $91 Million Last Week
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Sheryl Sandberg seems to not be able to afford to pay her interns. The Lean-In foundation’s mission, as taken from their website, says that it is “committed to offering women the ongoing inspiration and support to help them achieve their goals.” What we don’t understand from that mission, is how not paying interns but expecting them to come to the internship with “editorial and social chops, along with design and web skills, while being able to commit to a regular schedule through the end of the year would happen for women who would live in expensive NYC, with bills to pay. Or perhaps family responsibilities or another paying job.


The above picture is of the Facebook post, where Jessica Bennet, the Lean-In foundation’s editor hunted for an unpaid intern. Her response was a huge backlash of comments that attacked her and Sheryl Sandberg while critically ripping the ‘mission’ of the Lean-In organization and its philosophy apart. One responder commented, “your medium and behavior does not meet [Lean-In’s] message- that is a tremendous shame. Another commented wondered how Sheryl Sandberg has made hundreds of millions from her Facebook stocks but somehow can’t manage to pay the meager wage of an intern. Another commenter responded that “leaning in” meant demanding that unpaid work be announced for what it is, simple exploitation. She asks that Lean-in be shamed and pay up.

Later the Lean-In foundation’s editor backtracked and said that this was an “unofficial” role and that a lot of non-profits ask for volunteers or unpaid interns. But unpaid work is unpaid work. And the message of Lean-In seems hypocritical. Gawker captures the backlash as the wave of responders mounted their anger at what seems to be the conflict between the public face of the Lean-In foundation, with its mission to help women to empower themselves, and the backdoors exploitation of year round interns with masters level skill sets with no pay at all, unless you count the random and few slices of pizza throughout the week, if any.

Commenters have been from venture capitalists, to interns, to middle level management and students; no one seems to respect the kind of double speak that is going on. One comment says, “ Sandberg is 100% responsible for what goes on in her ‘foundation,’ which is trying to exploit young women. Another critic says, “Sandberg seems to be nothing more than an opportunistic, hypocritical plutocrat.” All comments seem to have one theme, that work exploitation and class identity are at the heart of the matter, while elitist Harvard graduate Sandberg is completely out of touch with the feminist notion she has sold to fans of ‘Leaning In.’

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