Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Lean In - Sheryl Sandberg

I feel like every woman in the working world has read, or will read, this book.  So of course I had to be part of the movement.  I've heard it referred to as a modern day feminist manifesto, and have seen so much energy around the book, how could I be a woman and not read it?  So I did.  I finished with mixed feelings.  Overall I think it is great to have this conversation, but the non-mom in me was a bit irritated that so much of the book relied on parenting and household responsibilities tactics.  I really Just wanted to know how to make myself more relevant in a business environment dominated by men.

I think Sheryl did a great job illustrating difficulties women face in the workforce.  Being an introvert I face a double whammy in this respect.  I have been looked over and ignored in meetings.  I know this.  I have seen women speak up and speak over others and thought 'wow, she's aggressive'.  Now I know that maybe she isn't more aggressive than the men in the room, maybe I just notice it more when a woman is outspoken.  And maybe I need to be more outspoken to compete with extroverts and men in the room.

Sheryl is very pointed at some of the challenges women face in the workforce which I think is great in a lot of respects.  An area I would have liked to see more of is around women who don't have kids.  I understand that children bring in an entirely new complication to being successful in the workplace, but it isn't relevant to all women.  A book that all of us could relate to might have been more fitting.  I do not have kids, or any real 'home life' obligations, but that doesn't make it easy for me to compete in the workforce.  Sheryl gave a few stats about how women aren't as aggressive in negotiating, are less likely to take promotions if they don't feel that they've done enough work to deserve the position, or how women will only apply and interview for positions that they meet all 'requirements'' for, where men will interview for positions where they are much less a 'fit' for the position.  These are great stats, and I think it is great to be aware of this type of information.  But I don't think it was enough.  Most of the discussion in the book revolved around women 'sneaking out' at five thirty to have dinner with their families, or how to manage pumping while in the office.  Great advice for those who have kids, but much less helpful for those of us who don't.

Overall I did enjoy the book.  I finished it with a touch of inspiration to push my life forward and desire to stretch my comfort zone on a professional level.  Definitely a worth while read.  Easy and quick to get through, yet enough content and supporting evidence to make her points believable.

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