Sheryl Sandberg says she helped plan her own engagement, and encourages other women to stop waiting for their boyfriends to propose

  • Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook, announced her engagement to Tom Bernthal on February 3.
  • In a Facebook post on Valentine's Day, Sandberg revealed she helped plan the engagement.
  • Sandberg said she encourages women not to wait for their boyfriends to propose. "We need to walk into our futures on our own two feet," Sandberg wrote. 
  • Research shows more women are proposing to their partners than in decades past. However, many women still feel the pressure to wait for their boyfriends to pop the question because of social stigma. 
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Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook, is encouraging women not to wait for their boyfriends to propose, revealing she and her now-fiancé Tom Bernthal planned their engagement together. 

"Together, we chose the weekend when we would get engaged – and then he took it from there," Sandberg, 50, wrote in a post on Facebook on Valentine's Day.

"He planned the trip, hike, and picnic. Yes, he got down on one knee. And when he proposed, he had a letter for me – and I had a letter for him, because this wasn't sprung on me. We took this step together."

The post comes two weeks after Sandberg revealed that she was getting married to Bernthal, the CEO of a consulting company, whom she met through the brother of her late husband, Dave Goldberg.  

Throughout her post, Sandberg discussed the endemic problem of women being too scared to ask their boyfriends about marriage out of fear of feeling too "pushy." 

"I've been waiting for him to propose for six months," "I'm ready for the next step but I don't know if he is," and "I don't want to pressure him so I'm trying to be chill about it" are all reasons Sandberg said she sees women listing off as to why they haven't brought up proposal with their boyfriends. 

More and more women are proposing to men, but it's still rare

According to CBS News, an Associated Press-WE TV poll found that only 5% of women in heterosexual couples had proposed to men. While more women are pushing back against this gender norm by proposing to their male partners, the stigma is still felt by countless others. 

"Women don't want to be seen as less feminine, or too sexual, or coming on too strong," Beth Montemurro, a professor of sociology at Penn State University, told The New York Times. "And there's a concern for men about [being publicly emasculated]."

This fear is a reflection of deeper gender equity issues, according to Sandberg, who also founded women's workplace equity organization Lean In.

"Almost seven years ago, I wrote in Lean In that in a truly equal world, women would run half our countries and companies and men would run half our homes," Sandberg wrote. "Equality at work depends on equality at home, and that starts with equality in dating."

Sandberg said that an engagement should be something that works best for everyone in the partnership and doesn't necessarily think women who want that traditional proposal shouldn't get one. 

"If you want that surprise proposal, I hope you get it. Tradition can be beautiful. But as I see it, if we want to achieve equality, we have to rethink the social norms around getting engaged," Sandberg wrote. 

Ultimately, Sandberg said it's important for the future of gender equity to question this centuries-old social norm.

"Let's be real. Prince Charming has no horse. We need to walk into our futures on our own two feet," Sandberg wrote. 

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