Title: Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead
Author: Sheryl Sandberg:
Publication Date: March 2013
Synopsis from Goodreads:
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 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.
I know I’m a little late to the game in reading Sandberg’s Lean In (by 8 years!), but I wanted to write a little something just because I found this book so profoundly inspiring. As I was reading Sandberg’s words, I found myself nodding along and enthusiastically agreeing to many of her points in the book. As a women in a typically male-dominated industry, working with other women who are reaching high and achieving greatness, this book spoke to me on many levels, both personally and through the stories I’ve heard from many female colleagues over the years.
Sandberg’s experiences with leadership as a woman are relatable and accessible as she speaks about being a feminist, and being married to a feminist. Her fight is for equality, and also recognizing that as women, as mothers, we have so many parts to us that demand our attention. We are leaders, workers, parents, friends, lovers, wives, and the cards have been, and continue to be, stacked against us. She highlights again how women still carry the burden of greater responsibilities in the household and women still feel the pressure to step away from their careers to care for their families. Workplaces are not always set up to support women as mothers and workers, and the home still expects women to shoulder the burdens of childcare and housekeeping while men continue to be encouraged to put their careers and ambitions first.
Sandberg says enough already. She speaks to her own experience of raising a family and working in an incredibly high-powered career. She is fortunate enough to have had the support of a dedicated spouse who fully understands her ambition and is there to create balance. They are both equal parents and equal career contributors. Not all women, she highlights, are so fortunate. It is a woman’s right to choose the life she wants to lead. If she wants to be a mother—amazing! If she wants to be a CEO—incredible! If she wants to do both—fantastic! Hers is a perspective of someone trying to balance work and family, and she’s got some great insights for those who are seeking to do the same.
This book is less about overt inequality or sexism, but more about the innate unconscious bias that has informed our society for ages. Many people think that this sexism no longer exists, or is minimal, and we certainly have come a long way. But as Sandberg points out, there is still a long way to go. She provides many examples and anecdotes to convey her thoughts and it makes for a powerful read.