Monday, March 17, 2014

Book Review: Lean In, Part 1

Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg is a feminist manifesto about women who want to lead in the workplace and men who are committed to having more men lead in the workplace.

One thing that's very important to note is all of the research she quoted. This wasn't a "I'm awesome, get like me" book. She did a phenomenal job of backing everything she had to say up with data.

I listened to this book as a book on tape, so I can't quote as many things as I would like to, but I'd like to share the top 10 things I learned (all paraphrased)

10. It's not about blame - In the preface to the book, the author, Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook admitted that she understands that societal change is both systematic AND behavioral. She acknowledges that one cannot happen without the other and she goes on to say that this book is not about systematic changes. She appreciates the work that is being done in that space, but she is talking to women about the behaviors they take that prevent them from being in leadership and how to change them.

9. She's not perfect - She mentions more times than a few that she hasn't followed her own advice in the book. Not because she didn't try, but because she was younger and didn't know better or because it's easier said than done. She's not, by any means, trying to say, "look at me, I'm the perfect model." She's courageously talking about a topic that a lot of people want her to shut up about.

8. People hate women in leadership - She cited a case about Harvard students reading a case study about a manager. For half of the class, the manager had a male name. For the other half of the class, the manager had a female name. The students felt that the man had all of positive characteristics, but when it came to the woman, they called her selfish, domineering, rude. Some other horrible attributes. IT WAS THE SAME CASE. She spends a lot of time on this discussing how, because we are women, people think we are either good at home or good at work, but cannot imagine that we are good at both things. If nothing else, this made me feel better about adverse reactions people have to things that I think are perfectly reasonable.

7. Your partner has to be on board - She said in so many words (or maybe said it directly) that one of the most important decisions you can make about your career is who you choose to spend your life with. [I wanted to pull the car over and do a praise dance on this one]. I can't remember the exact anecdotes, but she said her husband knows that she's a leader and he can't expect her to be everything to the kids. There are options for stuff like laundry. He can do it. A maid can do it. Or it's not going to get done.

6. Gender expectations are harmful to women in the workplace - Again, because of gender norms, she spent a lot of time citing studies that show women being villified for not fulfilling traditional roles. For example, if the mom instead of the dad is always working late, the children tend to harbor more resentment toward the mom, than they would have if the dad was in that same position.

More on this tomorrow...

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