Friday, April 26, 2013

Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg

Thirty years after women became 50 percent of the college graduates in the United States, men still hold the vast majority of leadership positions in government and industry. This means that women’s voices are still not heard equally in the decisions that most affect our lives. In Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg examines why women’s progress in achieving leadership roles has stalled, explains the root causes, and offers compelling, commonsense solutions that can empower women to achieve their full potential.

Sandberg is the chief operating officer of Facebook and is ranked on Fortune’s list of the 50 Most Powerful Women in Business and as one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People in the World. In 2010, she gave an electrifying TEDTalk in which she described how women unintentionally hold themselves back in their careers. Her talk, which became a phenomenon and has been viewed more than two million times, encouraged women to “sit at the table,” seek challenges, take risks, and pursue their goals with gusto.

In Lean In, Sandberg digs deeper into these issues, combining personal anecdotes, hard data, and compelling research to cut through the layers of ambiguity and bias surrounding the lives and choices of working women. She recounts her own decisions, mistakes, and daily struggles to make the right choices for herself, her career, and her family. She provides practical advice on negotiation techniques, mentorship, and building a satisfying career, urging women to set boundaries and to abandon the myth of “having it all.”  She describes specific steps women can take to combine professional achievement with personal fulfillment and demonstrates how men can benefit by supporting women in the workplace and at home.

Written with both humor and wisdom, Sandberg’s book is an inspiring call to action and a blueprint for individual growth. Lean In is destined to change the conversation from what women can’t do to what they can.

Let me start by saying that I'm aware that this is a white/upper class look at Feminism in the workplace. I don't say that as a criticism and Sandberg makes it clear herself that she can only speak from her own experiences, but I recognize that minorities of all kinds might not have the opportunity to apply some of the recommendations she makes here due to circumstances.

Personally I found the book incredibly interesting, even as someone who's not sure just how high up the corporate ladder she wants to climb (or if I want to climb at all). At the heart of Sandberg's book is the fact that if we as women are not aware of the subtleties of sexism, of the ways in which other people and ourselves can act as deterrents to our own success, then we can never overcome them. Ultimately the freedom of choice is only present if we're knowledgeable and willing to negotiate with what is initially presented to us. I'm not the best negotiator and have the tendency to downplay skills that other people value, personally and professionally, so this book served as the kick in the butt I needed to remind me that even if no one else sees it I need to be proud of what I can do and what I bring to the table at work and at home.

I highly recommend this book to women of any age and even though the copy I read is from the library I'm definitely going to be purchasing this for my personal bookshelf.

"When Gloria Steinem marched in the streets to fight for the opportunities so many of us now take for granted, she quoted Susan B. Anthony, who marched in the streets before her and concluded, "Our job is not to make young women  grateful. It is to make them ungrateful so they keep going." The sentiment remains true today. We need to be grateful for what we have but dissatisfied with the status quo. This dissatisfaction spurs the charge for change. We must keep going." --pg 172

Overall Feeling - B+/A

Series - None