Last night was "the biggest event in Washington," announced a beaming Shelton Zuckerman to the sold-out crowd gathered in Washington, D.C.'s Sixth and I Historic Synagogue, of which Shelton is a co-founder.
Brimming with a largely female audience, the synagogue played host to a conversation for aspiring female leaders and led by women who have earned their corner offices: NPR Host and Special Correspondent Michele Norris and Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer for Facebook. This event was Sandberg's latest venture championing women to embrace leadership in the workplace, a central theme in her new book Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead.
During the conversational session, Norris asked Sandberg about the challenges that some women face balancing their career and home life, and why women still have trouble landing top positions across most industries. Turning to her own experiences as a professional, a wife and a mother, Sandberg encouraged women not to fear "aiming higher." Lean In, Sandberg said, was written as practical advice for women who want to do just that.
"I'm writing this book for every little girl who has ever been called bossy," Sandberg declared, prompting a burst of laughter and applause from the crowd.
The discussion was prefaced by a note from NPR President and CEO Gary E. Knell, who recalled NPR's own early adoption of female leaders and continuing commitment to female leadership within the organization. Knell praised Norris and other NPR influencers as pioneers for women in media, along with a warm shout-out to NPR's four "Founding Mothers" – Nina Totenberg, Susan Stamberg, Cokie Roberts and Linda Wertheimer – who he cited as critical voices in shaping the success of NPR.
Flip through the slideshow for more highlights from last night's event.