Title: Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead
Author: Sheryl Sandberg
Where Stacie’s Copy Came From: Oshkosh Public Library
Plot Basics: Lean In addresses issues faced by women in the work place as experienced by Sheryl Sandberg and validated through various research studies. Rather than solving specific problems, the reality of the workforce is confronted and both sexes are challenged to make changes.
Banter Points: I liked this title, in spite of the fact that I wanted to say “But you are different.” Sure, Sandberg is different in that she is the currently one of the leaders at Facebook and used to be one of the leaders at Google. But she came from a public school background where she was the outcast. She liked to study and was accepted to an Ivy League school. She didn’t fit in there either; instead of being too smart as she was in high school, she was now not smart enough.
She is different in that she can afford a nanny and probably is able to have other hired help. She talks openly of vacations that I won’t be able to take and responsibilities I don’t have.
In spite of the differences, I connected with her story, her struggles, her desire for things to be different for women. I appreciated how she points out that women opt out of the work force and choose not to accept leadership positions. I found her way of stating gender bias to be frank and eye-opening, even though I felt as though I was aware of them already. I appreciated her candor, especially when sharing personal stories such as the speech giving at her wedding by one of her siblings where Sandberg’s “bossiness” was acknowledge from early childhood since her brother and sister accepted their positions as Employee #1 and Employee #2. (Side bar: Doesn’t everyone do this to their childhood friends? I really thought that was rather normal.)
I found myself cheering and stating, “Me too!” at various junctures throughout this book. It was as if I was having a conversation with a more successful — maybe older — version of myself. The things that I want women to recognize are outlined in this book. The things that I want the world to recognized are in this book.
Bummer Points: She completely skips the impact religion has on our society. Quite frankly, I’m disappointed that such an enormous force on this world was completely over looked. Perhaps it has to do with Sandberg’s upbringing. Perhaps it is because there are no studies or data behind the impact of religion on women, in the workforce or other.
Regardless of the reason, I believe that the book was seriously flawed for not considering this aspect of the world. It was not until Henry the Eight declared himself the head of his own religion did the hold of the Catholic Church loosen in the Eastern world. Martin Luther eventually rebelled against the corruption he saw in the Church but it didn’t change his opinion of women – and those teachings are upheld at certain levels and areas of the Lutheran church today. (Originally the 95 thesis were a way of highlighting the corruption, not an actual break from the Church. But that’s a tale for a different book.) Protestants and Calvinists were a further corruption of Luther’s teachings.
I’m by no means an expert a on religion or the role that women have in religious organizations. The bit that I do know tells me that Sandberg overlooked a crucial influence.
I wish she hadn’t.
Stacie’s Recommendation: Loved this book. It’s a conversation starter and Sandberg achieved that goal. I’d highly recommend this for a book group or a solo read. It’s a juicy topic and one that I applaud.