Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Lean In

Back in March, social media was a buzz about a woman named Sheryl Sandberg. Admittedly, I had no idea who this woman was and why she was asking American women to “lean in”. I quickly realized her book was causing a big stir among women and men across the country from traditional masculine men denouncing the book's contents to eager feminist women praising it as the new bible for Gen Y women. Curiosity certainly got the best of me, and I eventually got around to buying the book.
Within the first five minutes of reading I realized this book was going to be a much more
profound read than I had anticipated. 
And it was one of my favorite books from my summer reading list.

I’m not the exact target audience for this book- I am only a college freshman and on the later end of Gen Y- but Sandberg’s book is already a huge inspiration to me. A lot of Sandberg's book actually shares past positive and negative experiences she has weathered, learned, and persevered through professionally and personally to become the COO of Facebook today. What I love best about Sandberg is that she does not preach, shame, or bully men or women to fix the imbalances that still exist in work and home life. She is most definitely not a self righteous, raging feminist pointing the finger of women's problems on the male sex and championing women as the solution to all the world's problems. In fact, she doesn’t have solutions to most “ feminist problems”, but an experienced voice from working woman or better yet a working person advocating for a more balanced work and home situation for women, but also men and humanity as a whole.

 In our modern world, the staggering lack of true progress for women in the workforce (only 21 of the Fortune 500 CEOS are women? only 14% of executive officer positions are women?) is actually alarming considering we live in a country which allows boys and girls equal educational, professional, and personal opportunities. Sandberg's biggest concern is that women are often not confident enough to reach their professional dreams. She reveals that womens' biggest obstacles often come from within due to the idea of fraud. Even without Sandberg's statistical evidence and research studies, I knew this was 100% true. Women often underestimate their skills and ability, even when we receive success. We are often not able to take ownership of it. We feel "lucky" for our success and fear one day it will be revealed we are a fraud. So, we don't sit at the table and we are less likely to reach for promotions.

Luckily, our country does not allow racial, gender, or religious discrimination. We now educate young girls and boys in school that they can be whatever they want when they grow up, yet our society still encourages strict gender roles and often without recognizing it. This also extends to the work place. Just as boys are supposed to like blue and toy cars and girls pink and dolls, society expects men to have strong leadership qualities while women are expected to have nurturing, communal qualities. If a women doesn't put niceness first and foremost, it creates a negative impression. So we often sacrifice being successful for being liked. After all, studies prove success and likeability for men is positively correlated while success and likeability is negatively correlated for women.

Another big factor in womens' career decisions involves motherhood. Today, women can not "have it all", and Sandberg openly confirms this. Reports today show that less than 4% of fathers work full time inside the home. For men, it can be isolating and a blow to the ego while women can feel (or be pressured to feel) guilty for not devoting more time to child care by working just part time. Sandberg confirms you can not be the perfect mother, leader, employee, and wife because you can not be everything to everyone. Instead, she encourages women to seek out an equal partnership. Having a failed marriage herself, Sandberg encourages women to find a true partner. Not only can it allow women to continue their careers, but it has also proven to result in less divorces and happier, well adjusted children. This can in effect allow more success in life overall. Having it all really is a myth, but more women can have more if we are willing to fight for it.

Some of Sandberg's ideals may be a bit idealistic, but her ideas at least get people to start talking. On more than one occasion I had a man or woman come up to me while reading the book and discuss it with me. It was interesting to hear different points of views and many personal stories about gender inequality in the workforce and home life. I am young, but have already felt the stings, pressures, and prejudices indirectly and directly because of being a female. I hope my generation of women and men will be able to lean in more to our roles in work and home life. I hope one day their will not be a stigma for men to want to be more involved in childcare and for women to want to be a CEO and mother. If we find more gender balance in work and home life, the world could be a better place.
And who doesn't want that?

I truly recommend you get involved by reading the book, watching the TED talk, or Levo League Office Hour

Here's an excerpt from the book.

Let's lean in!


  1. Great post!!

    Instagram: Cmichellestyles

    1. Thanks so much reading! As you can tell I am quite passionate about this topic!
      Ciao! Tia


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