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Your Take: Sheryl Sandberg’s, Leaning In, and Embracing Success

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Lean In by Sheryl SandbergThis week we did a series inspired by Sheryl Sandberg’s new book Lean In and the associated media blitz. I first learned about it on NPR’s Morning Edition (a good 8 minute piece if you have the time) and the subsequent discussion about the message she was trying to convey and people’s responses to it. The book’s title, Lean In, refers to how women should lean into success and embrace it.

While I think the message is a good one, I don’t think a failure to “lean in” is the reason why there gender pay is not equal or why there aren’t more female CEOs. Personally, I think it’s because only women can get pregnant and give birth to children. It’s natural, for both male and female recruiters, to see a young woman and worry that she might start a family and decide working isn’t for her. Is that fair? Definitely not but to think that you can legislate that out of someone’s held is impossible.

It’s also hard to have a family, be involved in your kids, if you plan on working 60, 70, 80 hour weeks. It’s not impossible, but it’s really difficult. It’s also really difficult to become a CEO without having worked 60 hours weeks. For both men and women, would you rather devote that time to a company or to your family? Me? I’d rather devote it to family.

Tell Me More

Lastly, listen to these mom’s weigh in on NPR’s Tell Me More program (great program by the way). The gem is when Dani Tucker weighs in and explains how Sandberg isn’t talking to most American women:

DANI TUCKER: Oh, it’s a great argument for the women that she’s talking to, but she’s not talking to me. She’s not talking to single women or single mothers. She has never been one, so you don’t know what we go through. I mean, you know, one thing I liked was she said, you think – a young lady asked her, you know, is this book for single moms? What would you say to them? And she says, you know, knowing how to ask for a raise successfully. I’m not asking for a raise successfully. I’m happy to get a raise. OK. We’re on two different planets.

MARTIN: And why is that? Is that because she’s partnered or is it because she’s…

TUCKER: Because she’s rich.

MARTIN: …rich? Because she’s rich.

TUCKER: Because she’s rich, because she can make decisions with billions of dollars in her bank account and I cannot. Big difference. When I don’t have that money in my account that dictates, you know, my level of leaning in. OK? It just does, simple as that, period. So, to the majority of us who do not fit in this category, don’t waste your money on this book.

I think Tucker hits it on the head. It’s an 18 minute program worth listening to if you want to hear moms share their take on Lean In.

What are your thoughts on Sandberg’s comments and her book?

{ 6 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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6 Responses to “Your Take: Sheryl Sandberg’s, Leaning In, and Embracing Success”

  1. I agree. HAVING to make a living to put a roof over you and your child’s head and food on the table changes the decisions you make in fundamental ways. Ways someone who has money will never understand.

  2. admiral58 says:

    I saw her on 60 Minutes a few weeks ago. I don’t really see her point on any of this. Just go to work like most Americans or don’t, it doesn’t matter. If you’re good at what you do and can make the company money, then it’s best to keep you

  3. This is a big issue, way bigger than just “leaning in”. Some countries with generous leave policies for men and women can equal the playing field a bit (at the cost of higher taxes). I don’t think there are easy answers to gender pay differences. But, there definitely need to be more women at the top and on boards of directors. The problem is can women hold top positions and only work 40 hours per week? I doubt it.Maybe more stay at home dads is the best answer:)

  4. Money says:

    These mega millionaires know the secret to success. Take Meg Whitman the Billionaire. Why would she spend over $144 million dollars of her own money for a hard stressful $220,000/yr job and wants to do it for free

  5. I saw her interview on 60 minutes and my first thought was that she had so many advantages and opportunities that are not available to the average working woman that it was impossible for me to take her advice seriously. Most women are not in a position to have the opportunity to find a mentor or a sponsor. In my own case there have been many times when I have been denied opportunities because I was female, and there was no recourse available of any kind. History would indicate that the only hope women have of being treated equally (in regards to payscale) is through unionization. Sadly, there is so much corporate money behind the anti-union movement that women may NEVER be treated equally in the workplace.


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