Taking the podium before 600 graduating women and nearly 3,000 family members, faculty and staff, Sandberg spoke about hope, ambition and the challenges the graduates will face as they set out on their career paths.
"[B]ecause I work in Silicon Valley," she began, "let's just say I'm not usually in a room with this many women."
"You are privileged in the most important sense of the word, which is that you have almost boundless opportunity in front of you," Sandberg told the graduating class.
She also challenged the young women to use their strengths and their privilege to erase gender inequality, which she called "this generation's central moral problem." Sandberg said that her generation had had the opportunity to solve this problem and failed. But, she said, the graduates and their generation might rise where Sandberg's did not.
"You are the promise for a more equal world," Sandberg said. "You are our hope."
From the speech:
[T]he promise of equality is not equality. As we sit here looking at this magnificent blue-robed class, we have to admit something that's sad but true: men run the world. Of 190 heads of state, nine are women. Of all the parliaments around the world, 13% of those seats are held by women. Corporate America top jobs, 15% are women; numbers which have not moved at all in the past nine years. Nine years. Of full professors around the United States, only 24% are women.
[I]t's very clear that my generation is not going to change this problem. Women became 50% of the college graduates in this country in 1981, 30 years ago. Thirty years is plenty of time for those graduates to have gotten to the top of their industries, but we are nowhere close to 50% of the jobs at the top. That means that when the big decisions are made, the decisions that affect all of our worlds, we do not have an equal voice at that table.
We need women at all levels, including the top, to change the dynamic, reshape the conversation, to make sure women's voices are heard and heeded, not overlooked and ignored.
At Facebook we have a very broad mission. We don't just want you to post all your pictures of tonight up there and use Facebook to keep in touch, even though we want that, so do a lot of that. We want to connect the whole world. We want to make the whole world more open and more transparent. The one thing I've learned working with great entrepreneurs--Mark Zuckerberg at Facebook, Larry Page and Sergey Brin at Google--that if you want to make a difference, you better think big and dream big, right from day one.
I hope that you—yes, you—each and every one of you have the ambition to run the world, because this world needs you to run it. Women all around the world are counting on you. I’m counting on you.
You can watch Sandberg's entire commencement address (below). Visit Silicon Alley Insider to read the full transcript.