I had an epiphany the other day. I was in the middle of marking up a memo on U. Suddenly, it hit me: I hate Sheryl Sandberg. And I have nothing against rich people, who sometimes fund my projects or buy me lunch at fancy restaurants. Rich people, I love you! My hatred of Sheryl Sandberg is also nothing personal. She gave me a funny look. I used to go to an aerobics class she taught.
Lean on Me
That explained it. Some college students, like my friend Suzanne, take aerobics classes.
Some college students, like Sheryl Sandberg, teach aerobics classes. Other college students, like myself, lie around the dorm reading novels. She was already busy leaning in. I was busy leaning back on my sofa, with a good book and a nice cup of cocoa. This, of course, is also why I hate her. I had friends. I had hobbies.
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I had a job, too, of course, but I also took occasional vacations, knocked off work at a sensible hour and got eight hours of sleep each night. I resolved to do better. I accepted every media request. I promised to write articles and reports and books. Just as Sandberg promised, the rewards of leaning in quickly became evident.
My confident, assertive yet non-threatening feminine charm helped me rapidly expand both my business and social networks.
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When I dropped the kids off at school, other mommies gazed upon me with approval, and asked me where I had purchased those adorable little lunch containers. Older colleagues took me aside to tell me I was an up-and-comer and offer me plum assignments. Younger colleagues asked me to mentor them and join their Lean In Circles.
Speaking engagements flowed my way, and rich people asked if they could buy me lunch. With my confident yet charmingly self-deprecating smile, I accepted all offers and invitations. I leaned in some more.
I ate protein bars and made important telephone calls during my morning commute. I stopped reading novels so I could write more articles and memos and make more handicrafts to contribute to the school auction.
I put in extra hours at work. Because, of course, I was miserable. I never saw my friends, because I was too busy building my network. I was too tired to do any creative, outside-the-box thinking. I was boxed in. I wondered if foreign-policy punditry was just too much for me. I wondered if I should move to Santa Fe and open a small gallery specializing in handicrafts made from recycled tires. I wondered if my husband and kids would want to go with me.
Ladies, if we want to rule the world — or even just gain an equitable share of leadership positions — we need to stop leaning in. But in a world in which leaning in at work has come to mean doing more work, more often, for longer hours, women will disproportionately drop out or be eased out. Things were different in my own childhood, but today, parenting has become a full-time job: it requires attendance at an unending stream of birthday parties, school meetings, class performances, and soccer games, along with the procurement of tutors, classes, and enrichment activities, the arranging of play dates, the making of organic lunches, and the supervising of elaborate, labor-intensive homework projects than cannot be completed without extensive adult supervision.
Oh yes: By incredible coincidence, parenting was discovered to require the near-constant attention of at least one able-bodied adult at just about the same time women began to pour into the workforce in large numbers. No one can survive two of them. And as long as women are the ones doing more of the housework and childcare, women will be disproportionately hurt when both workplace expectations and parenting expectations require ubiquity. Global crisis never sleeps, and neither do the overworked staffers at the Pentagon, the State Department, or the White House.
They can crush you. Good managers, whether they supervise air-traffic controllers, auto workers, or the National Security Staff, recognize that human beings function best when they work in humane and flexible conditions….
Lean on Me (film) - Wikipedia
Though it's been marketed to and written for a primarily female audience, Lean In contains a whole lot for men to think seriously about. As Sandberg's story about Cynthia Hogan illustrates, equality is a project everybody must work on together. For too long, achieving equality has been seen as women's burden. People myself included were disappointed by Marissa Mayer's shirking of the feminist label, but few ever ask America's male CEOs whether they consider themselves feminists.
A recent "pop-up book club" from The Guardian asked "women of the internet, [to] gather around" to re-read Betty Friedan's classic The Feminine Mystique. Again and again, we leave men out of the conversation about gender equality -- a conversation whose success depends on their participation. This is a lost opportunity. Perhaps in the past there were fewer men who were willing partners in this project, but it's time to recognize that many men don't like inequality any better than women do. Maybe men don't feel like there is anything they can do. Sandberg quotes Alice Walker who said, "The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don't have any.
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Men need to recognize the power they have, and use it. Both in the workplace as colleagues and bosses and at home as husbands for heterosexual couples , men can do more to complement all the leaning in that the women around them are doing. It is likely that Sandberg's words will carry the most force in the workplace.
Her book is laced with examples of men who have made a conscious effort to make their workplaces more equal, such as the case of a Goldman Sachs executive who instituted a universal "breakfast or lunch only policy" so that he could meet equally with male and female junior staff with no hint of impropriety stemming from a late-night dinner with a young woman. There's also a Johns Hopkins medical school professor who, after watching Sandberg's viral TED talk , got rid of hand-raising women are less likely to keep their hands up and just called on people randomly.
Additionally, through sharing her experience in hiring young women at Facebook, she models how workplaces can proactively raise the question of pregnancy so that female employees will feel supported and ease the fear for their job security that many feel when starting a family. But Lean In 's value to men in professional settings goes beyond advice: Since the book is primarily directed at women, and since it expends a huge amount of energy exploring the complexities of gender dynamics in the workplace, the book provides a great window for men who just want to better understand why women haven't achieved more equality over the last half century -- what forces, psychological and institutional, have preserved the predominance of men in the top tiers of leadership in virtually every field.
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By knowing this story -- one, I think, that women discuss among themselves quite often -- men will become more sophisticated thinkers and actors when it comes to gender. And it's not just in professional settings that men can do more. Household responsibilities remain primarily women's. Sandberg writes:. Improvement will come from men who, perhaps by reading this book, decide that they need to do more at home.