So I’ve had this book, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg* sitting on my “to read” shelf for ages and I’m not gonna lie to you, I didn’t want to read it because of pre-conceptions I had about it due to things I thought I had seen and read in the media about it. My first impression of this book what that it was by a fancy business woman, telling regular folk like me how to put family-type achievements aside in favour of “Leaning In” to my career for the good of all womankind/feminists. Where did I get these thoughts about the book from? I think mostly from me half-listening to social media comments about the woman and the book and the topic, and not really paying attention to what the message of the book was really about, but totally subscribing to the rabble:rabble:rabble and the hype.
I’m happy to say that my preconceived notions about the book were dead wrong.
I ended up deciding to read the book, in spite of the fact that I had my doubts about it, because I figured reading it would give me fodder for a really scathing blog post / review, and it did, but in the opposite way than I had expected.
As it turns out, I’m really glad that I read this book because the message to women is not “screw having a family, rule the world through business”, but a much more important message.
The message to the book is that both women and men need to “Lean In” to the roles that historically have been closed to them. Women need to take the steps, make the choices and demand the equality that leads to success in the workplace. And in order to support that idea, men also need to “Lean In” to taking responsibility for their families, taking on half if not more of the household and child rearing responsibilities.
In making it easier for a woman to say “yes” and “sit at the table” in her career, men are helping women to break the stereotypes of the corporate glass ceiling.
I know I’m probably not explaining all of the concepts of “Leaning In” properly, what I will tell you is that there are some very good ideas in this book about how to make the workplace more welcoming to women, and people with families in general, and making stay at home fatherhood a more mainstream concept. All of this benefits everyone. There is no reason why a woman should feel inferior if she finds herself in an “old boys club”. If women had more support in the home, then they could dedicate themselves to being more of a presence in the upper levels of business and management, making it a better work environment for all the women coming up behind them.
This book also talks about the fact that if a person choses to “lean out” of the business world, it shouldn’t be make extra difficult for that person to do so, and it also outlines some ideas on how to “step back up to the table”.
Again, this review is not doing the book justice. Just go ahead and read it. I recommend it to anyone, man or woman, who has a job, a family, or neither, or both.
Yes, Sheryl S. has had a privileged life to get her where she is, but she’s clearly also a smart cookie whose ideas work for all levels of business and career stage. It certainly had some smart ideas in it that made me stop and think.