Sheryl Sandberg has been in the news lately for her opposition to the global gag rule and her more recent comments on Trump’s highly controversial and discriminatory immigration ban. Today at the Watermark Conference for Women in Silicon Valley in San Jose, Sandberg spoke about politics, President Donald Trump and leaning in (obvi), in an interview with Recode’s Kara Swisher.
Swisher kicked it off with an inquiry about the Women’s March, which many are calling the largest protest in the U.S. ever, and Sandberg’s lack of involvement and silence around the massive protest.
“I had a personal obligation which meant I couldn’t go,” Sandberg said. “I just felt bad about not being there. So I think once I felt bad I just didn’t feel comfortable posting, and I think that was a mistake. And if I had to do it again I certainly would’ve posted.”
She went on to say that the march “was an incredible showing of support for women all around the world, and it shows that there are so many people out there, not just in the U.S., but globally, who really believe in equality for women.”
Regarding the effectiveness of massive protests like the Women’s March, Sandberg said, “I think we don’t know what’s going to be effective yet. It’s very early days of the new administration, but we know that the issues for women in leadership are real and it is about the steps we take as a society, it’s about the public policy we take, it’s also about the individual steps women take.”
Back in December, Trump met with some of the tech industry’s most prominent executives, including Google’s Eric Schmidt, Apple’s Tim Cook and Sandberg. At the Watermark conference, Sandberg dodged questions about the meeting went, simply saying to Swisher, “I mean, you wrote about it. People read about it.”
Since that meeting, many tech leaders have spoken out against the immigration ban. In terms of how effective the tech industry and the public can be in changing certain orders and policies, Sandberg said she can’t predict what will happen, but that she has to “remain hopeful.”
Swisher pushed hard on rumors about Sandberg potentially getting involved in government and running for office, but Sandberg held strong and didn’t give in. Sandberg said she’s said no in the past and will continue to say no.
“I am the best source on this one,” Sandberg said with a laugh, and went on to talk about how much she loves her job and working for Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
Regarding the current state of our society, Sandberg recognizes that “we are in a very challenging time, not just here, but around the world.”
She noted how there are fewer women leading countries today than there were when she published her book Lean In.
“I recognize fully the challenges,” Sandberg said. “I have to be optimistic, I have to be because hope — and this is also in my [upcoming] book — hope is the fuel for social change. When we don’t have hope, we give up. When we don’t have hope, we give up on ourselves.”