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Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg Sparks Debate by Saying Employers Should Ask Female Employees About Their Plans for Children

The COO of Facebook has sparked a debate that has women buzzing. Sheryl Sandberg recently said, “Employers should be allowed to ask women about plans for children … Every HR department tells you not to do that but we need to have a much more open conversation.”

Sabrina Schaeffer, executive director of the Independent Women’s Forum, applauded Sandberg for beginning this dialogue. “The reality is that when women take off time for maternity leave and when they have children and families … it takes time away from the workplace. It has a real economic cost to business that we need to consider.”

Jolynn Shoemaker, director of Women in International Security, argued that asking

a woman whether she planned to have children in an interview or throughout their career trajectory is “misguided.” While she believes that Sandberg is trying to elevate the conversation and create a more open dialogue, she cautions that we need to be careful about how we go about that.

“We fought a lot of these battles in the 70s and 80s to prevent gender discrimination and we don’t want to walk back on that. What we want to think about is more innovative ways and safe spaces to have the conversations that we need to have between employees and employers about these issues.”

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