CNBC Anchor Maria Bartiromo: Women Are Already "Leaning In"

The award-winning and trailblazing CNBC anchor Maria Bartiromo weighs in on the Sheryl Sandberg Lean In controversy and reveals her biggest career risk.

Maria Bartiromo, the award-winning CNBC anchor and best-selling author (her latest book is The 10 Laws of Enduring Success), knows a thing or two about leaning in. After all, she was the first woman to report live from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, which, until then, had been a total boys' club.

So when we had the absolute pleasure of interviewing the legendary star for our "Take Charge of Your Career" special week-long coverage, we had to ask about the controversy surrounding Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg. Sandberg's new book, Lean In, chronicles the ways she thinks women aren't leaning in enough in their careers, which she believes is keeping them from the corner offices and corporate boards. Many women have not taken too kindly to Sandberg's book or her advice.

"I think Sheryl is terrific for bringing this to the forefront because we do need to have this conversation but I would not criticize women in terms of saying you don't lean in enough and the women's movement has stalled," Maria told me during an interview before her daily show on CNBC about the markets called Closing Bell. "I don't believe that. In fact, when you look right now at higher university, law school, medical school, business school, the majority of those students are women, and the truth is women are soaring."

At the same time, Maria notes that only 23 of the S&P 500 companies have female chief executive officers. "That is curious, why is that? Is it the woman's fault? I don't think so. I think it's because boards are largely comprised of men and men pick men so the people who are putting those people to work are men. So I don't necessarily blame women and a lack of work or a lack of enthusiasm and skill sets because women are doing it and women are soaring all over the world."

How did Maria get to the top? Check out the biggest risk she took in her career!



How a Promotion Led to an Enormous Risk

Maria began her career at CNN and became a highly regarded writer and producer. But then, ironically, it was a promotion that pushed her to become one of the most famous faces of business news. She was promoted to be senior producer of the morning shows, which meant she'd move inside the control room running the shows as opposed to being out in the field, asking questions and gathering facts for stories. Instead of being thrilled, Maria was devastated. "It was taking me out of something that I loved and that I knew I was good at and when that happened, I realized I hit ceilings at CNN's Business News," she said.

The Best Advice Given in the Ladies Room

Maria credits another woman, former CNN anchor and correspondent Kitty Pilgrim, who is now a novelist, for giving her the best advice of her career -- and it happened in a ladies room at CNN. Maria was crying about the promotion she didn't want to take and in walked Kitty, someone Maria really respected. "She said to me, 'Maria, now is the time to think about where you see yourself in five years. Think about what it is inside of you that gets you going in the morning. What do you love to do and in five years where would you like to see Maria Bartiromo?," Maria told me. "So it was at that moment when I thought to myself, 'Hmmm, in five years, I would love it if I could be on the air. I would like to be a reporter,' and she said to me, 'Then that is what you need to pursue now."

The rest, shall we say, is history!

Kelly Wallace is chief correspondent of iVillage. You can follow Kelly on Twitter (@kellywallacetv). 

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