If you missed the flurry of public conversation that took place right after Lean In was published, this post gives you a taste of it. [Background: the book was written by Sheryl Sandberg, the Chief Operating Officer (COO) at Facebook.] You can get the gist of the book’s overall message in Sandberg’s Ted Talk.
She essentially looks at why there are so few women leaders (CEO’s & heads of state, for example) and what can be done about it.
She’s largely speaking to young, ambitious professional women about what she’s learned about women’s career advancement and leadership. Her strongest recommendation to women is to “lean in,” meaning to be fully, 100% committed to working hard and getting ahead, and to assume their “place at the table” whether or not they feel they belong there. To the women who shy away from the fast track because at some point in the future they want to cut back to raise their children, Sandberg says, “Don’t leave before you leave.”
Here are some of the best posts from right after the book came out:
Why Sheryl Sandberg is Beside the Point, by Amy Gutman.
Start here because Gutman lays out beautifully just how and why the book elicits such strong, polarized responses.
The Retro-Lean-Back Snow Day, by KJ Dell”Antonia (in the Motherlode column of the NY Times).
Dell’antonia, from deep inside a snow day at home with her kids, makes the case for a modified career plan that allows for snow days and sick kids. The strategy is imperfect, it requires flexibility, and it’s the right answer for many professionals with young children. This piece links to several other juicy posts/columns on the subject.
Why Lean In Makes Me Depressed, by Morra Arons-Mele.
She writes, “Sandberg asks women to lean in, but social and cultural institutions haven’t caught up with her, so we feel confused and perhaps disappointed.” Aarons-Mele writes about the challenges that 20- and 30-somethings grapple with.
Why I’d Rather Stand Straight Than Lean In, by Kristin van Ogtrop, editor of Real Simple magazine.
Van Ogtrop makes the case for a more balanced approach: “Here’s the thing: I don’t want to be striving for bigger/better/higher/more every minute of every day. I don’t always want to have a larger goal.” Sometimes she stops to enjoy a clementine.
Enough With The ‘Leaning In,‘ by Tiziana Dearing.
This is more of a response to the buzz than to the book. A CEO herself, Dearing writes, “Who died and made the top of the ladder God?” She makes the case for each individual navigating her professional path in her own way.
I Had to Take a Xanax to Read Time Magazine This Week, by Penelope Trunk.
She writes, “The high performers in corporate life are so much more focused than everyone else in the workforce that it’s time we stopped selling a false bill of goods; almost no one can be so singularly focused to get to the top of anything. Including corporate America. Yet we keep talking to kids and each other like anyone can do it.” Trunk often says things no one else is saying. I don’t always agree with her, but boy, she is one interesting blogger. And smart.
He Hasn’t Had it All Either, by Michael Winerip in the Booming section of the NY Times.
Winerip opens with this: “I have had a lot. I feel lucky to have had a successful career as a journalist and author while being the primary caregiver of our four children for a decade. But I definitely did not have it all. And unlike most people written about in the media who don’t have it all, I’m a male who didn’t have it all.” This is a very sane, grounded piece, and an interesting look at an egalitarian marriage.
You Can’t ‘Have It All’ & More of Feminism’s Outdated Phrases, by Ellen Galinsky, president of the Families and Work Institute.
Galinsky “loathe[s] the terms of the debates . . . [because] these seemingly innocuous words invariably hamper, not foster, change.” She takes 5 of these terms and suggests more appropriate ones, such as “fit” instead of “balance,” “thriving through it all” instead of “having it all.”
And now it’s your turn. Did you read the book, and if so, what did you think? And, whether or not you read the book, what do you think about its message? Please leave a comment.