Reading Sheryl Sandberg’s 2013 Lean In felt very timely for me.
Although I’ve been vaguely intending to read it for some time now, it just hadn’t happened. Then I happened to hear a radio interview with Sheryl promoting her second book; the subject matter of resilience sounded very important and Sheryl herself was a very likeable person.
I have a thing about consuming in order, so I got Lean In and have her second book, Plan B, requested from the library.
If I’d read Lean In when it came out, I don’t know whether it would have had the same impact for me. Now was the perfect time for me to read it – although I’ve been in the workforce for years, I’m now working in my chosen field. I’m not as shy or timid as I was years ago, and am struggling with my ambition and goals and career path.
Lean In examines the difficulty women have in advancing their careers. She looks at why: both internal and external factors. Citing many papers, studies, and other sources, Sandberg paints a compelling picture of how tough it is for women to thrive and reach top positions in the workplace. She also talks about the challenge of being a mother and continuing to work, and how success makes women less likeable – to both women and men. All in all, a pretty sobering picture.
However, despite the research and the personal anecdotes, Sandberg balances hope. She provides suggestions for women to take their careers into their own hands (lean into your career, how to negotiate despite gender bias) and gives examples of how small changes can make a huge difference. I was struck by her sensitivity toward mothers, and she goes out of her way to insist that not everyone wants to continue a career after becoming a parent and that’s okay – the goal is to have that choice. Similarly, she wants men to be able to choose stay-at-home parenting and receive the same respect as if they were in a career.
If I were to sum up the book in one sentence, it would be: We have a long way to go for gender equality, but we can get there.
Her thoughtful and sensitive approach to the challenges women (and men) face in addressing and working toward gender balance, combined with her optimism that yes, things can change, make this a great read. (Lean In hit number one on both the Amazon and New York Times bestseller lists, so clearly, I’m not the only one who thinks so.)
[Note: It feels like a while since I’ve done much writing. I want to get this published, but I feel out of practice. Thanks for your patience as I get back to my skillz.]