By Angie Chang (Co-Founder & Editor-in-Chief, Women 2.0)
Sheryl Sandberg is the name of the year, heralded the “$1.6 billion woman” by The New York Times over the weekend.

The New York Times piece touts Sandberg’s successes but warns that “to some, Ms. Sandberg seems to suggest that women should just work harder while failing to acknowledge that most people haven’t had all the advantages that she’s had”, citing Sylvia Ann Hewlett (Director, Gender and Policy Program, Columbia University) as saying:

“I’m a huge fan of her accomplishments and think she’s a huge role model in some ways, but I think she’s overly critical of women because she’s almost implying that they don’t have the juice, the chutzpah, to go for it.

I think she’s had a golden path herself, and perhaps does not more readily understand that the real struggles are not having children or ambition.

Women are, in fact, fierce in their ambition, but they find that they’re actually derailed by other things, like they don’t have a sponsor in their life that helps them go for it.”

With the glittering success of Sandberg at Facebook and women entrepreneurs making the news on a regular basis – with appearances on magazine covers and news reports, it makes you wonder if this is really the year – and decade – for women to achieve parity and success.

Julia Hu (Founder & CEO, LARK) has written extensively on leadership for women:

The characteristics for a great male leader have long been defined, they are judged by certain frequent metrics. The characteristics of a great female leader are still being defined. It’s a great opportunity, but one that requires speaking out.

We think differently and need different things. Don’t expect others to know that. Start articulating clearly and gracefully to your family, colleagues, and teammates, your investors, partners, and customers what you need in this challenging but deeply fulfilling journey — for the sake of your company and your own sanity.

Women are currently outpacing men in educational attainment – we’re just waiting for this effect to permeate into the business, technology and entrepreneurship sectors. May boardrooms and executive suites reach gender parity sooner than later!

Where will you make your mark? Education, health, gaming, social, big data, cloud computing, etc.?

To meet the who’s who of women leading tech innovation and building great products, check out Women 2.0’s fifth annual PITCH Conference & Competition on February 14, 2012 in Mountain View, CA.

Photo credit: Grant Hollingworth on Flickr.
About the guest blogger: Angie Chang co-founded Women 2.0 in 2006 with Shaherose Charania. She currently serves as Editor-In-Chief of Women 2.0 and is working to mainstream women in entrepreneurship. Previously, Angie held roles in product management, web UI design, and entrepreneurship. In 2008, Angie launched Bay Area Girl Geek Dinners, asking that guys come as the “+1” for once. Angie holds a B.A. in English and Social Welfare from UC Berkeley. Follow her on Twitter at @thisgirlangie.