Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead is a great book and valuable read. More importantly, it continues a conversation.
Sheryl asserts that “more female leadership will lead to fairer treatment for all women.” She encourages women to be more open to taking career risks, to stop trying to please everyone, and to support their female colleagues.
While some argue that Sandberg is promoting the wrong ‘brand’ of feminism or that there are other issues we should tackle first, one thing is certain – if you wait around to pick the perfect talking track, you’re not making a difference.
Plus, you don’t have to agree with everything she says to recognize that her research backed findings are startling, things like:
- Men are expected to be assertive, so we welcome their leadership. In contrast, women are expected to be sweet, so when they lead, they go against our expectations and often face pushback as a result.
- When a man is successful, his peers often like him more; when a woman is successful, both men and women often like her less.
The Facts About Women in Leadership Roles
- Replacing a woman’s name with a man’s name on a résumé improved the odds of getting hired by 61 percent.
- Women are interrupted more than men.
- When men share household responsibilities, their wives are happier and their marriages are stronger.
- More women than ever are primary or co-breadwinners, yet only 9 percent of couples in dual-income marriages say that they share child care, housework, and breadwinning evenly.
- Of the top 500 companies, only 21 are headed by women.
- In politics, women hold just 18% of congressional offices.
- In 2010, women earned just 77 cents for every dollar men made.
- In one study, three additional words on a résumé—“member of PTA”—made a woman 79 percent less likely to be hired.
Read This: Lean In
Beyond those facts, Sandberg encourages women to think about work, leadership, and home life, differently. Some of her chapters include:
- Sit at the Table: Females more frequently display impostor syndrome concerns and the concept of “fake it till you make it”. Consider taking opportunities even if you do not feel qualified to execute them.
- It’s a Jungle Gym, Not a Ladder: The “corporate ladder” is more like a jungle gym with multiple paths to the top.
- Don’t Leave Before you Leave: Women forgo career advancement for family, sometimes before children are even in the picture.
- The Myth of Doing it All: Tina Fey says that the rudest question which people regularly ask women is “How do you do it all?”, because the assumption is that a woman who is achieving in business must not have time to spend with family, and this same question is not asked to men in business.
Everyone can make small changes to be part of the solution. Here are some easy things you can do:
- Read Lean In and talk about it with others.
- Be a 50-50 partner.
- Be a good dad.
- Stand up with HeForShe.
Most of all, let’s start talking about it. Let’s be more cognizant of these biases and do what we can to make our homes, offices, and communities a more equal place.