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

This 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 [3] (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 [4] (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?