Sheryl Sandberg tells students it’s OK to be a geek

Sheryl Sandberg’s book “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead” sold 140,000 copies its first week of publication and has gone back to press seven times for additional printings, publisher Alfred A. Knopf said this week. (AP/Jeff Chiu/File)

Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg told students geeking out at a robotics camp in Chicago they were making the right move by spending their spring break indulging their tech inclinations.

The social media company’s chief operating officer and best-selling author visited high school and middle school students Thursday at the camp at the Illinois Institute of Technology campus, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

“All the things that make you uncool in high school are the things that are good for your life,” Sandberg told the group of about a dozen students.

Sandberg is the author of “Lean In,” which has ignited debate over her thoughts on how to advance the role of women in the workplace.

During her visit, she revealed a bit of her own teenage geek credentials, saying she used to take part in weekend math contests.

Accompanying her was Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who added that his time spent training as a ballet dancer was not “in the top list of cool” for a teenage boy.

That was encouraging for 14-year-old Cherokee Sperry, who counts politics, traditional Hawaiian cooking and science camps among his interests.

When 18-year-old Hannan Ouyoun said she was torn between a career in fashion or engineering, Sandberg suggested she do both. The executive explained that an engineer’s understanding of how things work would give her a competitive edge in the fashion world.

“When she said that, it was an eye-opener,” Ouyoun said later. “I never thought of it that way.”