Thursday, March 21, 2013

Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg

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.

FTC Full Disclosure - Library book


Rosemary said...

Oh my goodness,Lesa, if you don't want to be on that panel, I will! Seriously, you are the perfect person for it - so I'm glad you've realised that.

My daughters are both strong feminists - they learned that from me - & I can't stand it when women say 'I'm not a feminist but...' - WHY NOT? Do they not appreciate all the women who fought for the rights they now enjoy?

Sounds like a very interesting book - even if this woman does have pots of money, she still seems to have something useful to say.


Leslie Budewitz said...

Lesa, thanks for reviewing this. The public conversation about this book has been fascinating -- a validation of her points, in a way. I've been particularly baffled by the criticism of Sandberg for having money -- which she earned -- as if that means she can't understand or speak to the real lives of women who struggle financially. Going to look for an audio version now....

Lesa said...

You're right, Rosemary. I think women nowadays forget the past. I know my father used to say he supported women's rights. He had three daughters, and he wanted to see us have equal pay and equal rights in the workplace. And, both Rosemary and Leslie are right. So much of the conversation does validate her points. I think it's a useful book for people to read or listen to. As I said, I think there's something in it for everyone, and it doesn't matter if she has money. There are women in leadership roles, or striving for them, in every profession. She has important things to say about that.

Karen C said...

The one thing I know I've done properly is to raise my daughter to be strong, independent, and to know how to work/go after what she wants. Lean In sounds like a good book. Nice review, Lesa.

Lesa said...

Thank you, Karen. It is a good book, and it reinforces much of what you just said.

For info on Alaskan halibut fillets Captain Jacks Alaska said...

So much of this resonated for me, especially the leaving before you leave idea, coming from home with traditional roles I began to set this in motion long before I had children, even though I had broken into a non traditional field and become a mechanical engineer working in construction industry. I want to help my daughter and son to find better balance and that begins with me setting example now.