Sheryl Sandberg has been all over the media with her book, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead. Most of the controversy seems to circle around whether or not Sandberg, the chief operating officer at Facebook, should be the voice of working mothers since she has so much money, unlike many mothers. Frankly, this is just a small part of the book, and as a working woman who is not a mother, I didn't focus on that issue. Instead, I found the book had excellent points about women in leadership positions.
Since I was in a book group the other day when a woman actually came out and said feminists hated men, it was interesting to pick up this book that said women are afraid to say they are feminists. Why would anyone want to speak up about social and economic equality for women? Why would any woman want to say that after Sandberg is attacked for it? Sandberg focuses on what women themselves can change, encouraging us to lean in at the table, and speak up. "Conditions for all women will improve when there are more women in leadership roles giving strong and powerful voices to their needs and concerns."
The aspect that jumped out at me is the comparison between men who are confident, and women who continue to express self-doubt, what is called "the imposter syndrome". I caught myself falling into that trap yesterday, and I know I do it frequently. I was asked to be on a panel with a number of people who I admire, authors and other women in the library field. And, instead of just focusing on what an honor, I thought, "I can't believe they asked ME!" You know what? I am an expert in that field, and I shouldn't put myself down saying I shouldn't be on a panel about mysteries and the role of women in mysteries. But, we tend to see others as experts in a field, and don't recognize ourselves in that role.
My opinion? I found Lean In to have interesting points about women accepting their roles and learning to be leaders.The sections about working mothers didn't relate to me, but the comments about strong partners did hit home. I didn't realize it at the time, but my late husband, who cooked and cleaned and encouraged me along the way, was the person who pushed me to take on roles that I might not have taken. Interested in Sandberg's book? Don't pay attention to the reviews that attack her because she spoke up. Read the book for yourself, and see if parts of it speaks to you.
Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg. Knopf. 2013. ISBN 9780385349949 (hardcover), 228p.
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