(NEW YORK) -- Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook Inc., said she hesitated to give the TED talk in December 2010 that has catapulted her as a major voice for women and served as the launching pad for her new book, Lean In.
Sandberg told ABC News' Elizabeth Vargas that she had never talked publicly about being a woman.
"Everyone told me not to. They said, 'If you give a public talk on women, people are going to notice you're a woman.' I was like, 'Okay, well.' But I did it," she said.
Sandberg said she worried that others might think she was asking "for special treatment or about to sue them."
"But over the last 10 years in the work force I was so alarmed as more men were leaning in and progressing. And women were working the same hours, working just as hard. But not getting the promotion, not getting paid as much," Sandberg said.
Over two million views on YouTube later, a new book and a nonprofit LeanIn.org, Sandberg said she has received emails and letters from inspired women from all walks of life who "sat at the table."
On LeanIn.org, women are encouraged to tell their stories about speaking out, gaining more confidence and helping each other achieve their goals.
Of course, Sandberg shares her own experiences of splitting chores and childrearing with her husband, while her career skyrocketed from chief of staff for the United States Treasury Department under President Bill Clinton to Google's vice president of Global Online Sales and Operations. Sandberg is also a director of The Walt Disney Company, which owns ABC News.
Sandberg admits in her book that before she became the COO of Facebook in March 2008, she almost readily accepted Mark Zuckerberg's first salary offer.
"When Mark offered me the job at Facebook, I had been interviewing with him for six weeks. I was dying to get this job. And when he made the first offer, I thought it was fair. And I was about to take it gratefully," Sandberg told Vargas. But Sandberg's brother-in-law advised her, "No one takes the first offer."
"And I said, 'Well, if I negotiate, maybe he won't like me. Maybe I won't get the job. It won't work out,'" Sandberg said. "And he said to me, 'Why are you going to take this job and make less than any man would take?' And that was motivating. And it turned out that I was able to negotiate."
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