"The blunt truth is that men still run the world"I managed to chow down the entire book (Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg) in a day, having procrastinated reading it for the better part of the month. Sandberg begins with a chapter that mirrors a political and social plea to all for actual gender equality, and not just the promise of it. This is founded and supported by statistical facts & figures, and the reader is soon enraged and provoked to not only read up, but sit up. The reader is blinded by the truth that the proverbial glass ceiling is not the only thing hindering a woman's professional progress, but also the existence of real obstacles such as blatant and/or subtle sexism from males and females alike, sexual harassment, lack of support at home & errant discrimination. Amoruso, take note, THIS is how you write a feminist manifesto!
"Knowing that things could be worse should not stop us from trying to make them better"
"Getting rid of internal barriers is critical to gaining power...women can get to the top only when the institutional barriers are gone"
Cultural Norms - Sandberg didn't open my eyes to anything new, but highlighted the extent to which gender discrimination is ingrained into our cultural norms and practices. 'Lean In' focuses on the impact of such norms at work, but it exists in other spheres. One of these norms are that men are promoted based on their potential, while for women, it's based on their record of accomplishments. Odd that. Especially in light of the much quoted fact that "women only apply for open jobs if they think they meet 100% of the criteria listed [while] men apply if they think they meet 60%". That level of confidence is just lacking in females, no matter what the anomaly among us claim. Lacking the confidence to assert ourselves into roles; pulling back instead of leaning in, due to years conditioned to be submissive, subservient, refrain from being outspoken, and encouraged to be 'lady-like' (whatsoever that means) has led to women lowering their expectations of what can be achieved, and has created a clear gender imbalance in the workplace. Women internalise societal cues about what defines 'appropriate' behaviour & in turn, silence themselves. However, Sandberg urges that the barriers need not only be dismantled in workplaces for equality to prevail, but within other spheres of society and within ourselves as women also.
"Career progression often depends upon taking risks and advocating for oneself - traits that girls are discouraged from exhibiting"
Kehlani Concert at Heaven Nightclub
"[Women] compromise career goals to make room for partners and children who may not even exist yet"
Compartmentalising Work | Life - Sandberg theorises that one's career isn't a ladder, but a jungle gym. Thus, as useful as it is to map out one's career and life aspiration with an upward vision in mind, the reality is far from it, leading one through loops, obstacles, thrusts and Lord knows what else. Sandberg encourages women to not be so risk averse, and embrace it & seek out diverse experiences as this, she chimes, is useful preparation for leadership. There is no one definition of success, yet women are groomed to regard the balance between an active social life, an existent love/ family life, and a thriving career as IT! By IT, please envision my arms thrust in the air with the ROC sign up hailing what I explained prior as the pinnacle. However, this fails to account for women who have no interest in acquiring power, or no desire to settle down or have a family? We also believe that in order to be successful, one must be more like a man at work, and can save our femininity for the home...WRONG! 'Sharing emotions builds deeper relationships', so we must learn to embrace all that we are, and show our colleagues - male and female alike - that true strength doesn't come by obliterating emotion, or even rebranding emotion not as a weakness but an asset. 'Motivation comes from working on things we care about', and that passion is an emotion, so surely there is A PLACE for it in the workplace. 'Emotion drives both men and women and influences every decision we make' so don't be fooled into thinking otherwise, as this could stunt your ability to assist, carve and build relationships with peers that may otherwise promote you to manager or partner in time.
"No one accomplishes anything all alone"
Kehlani Live in Concert at Heaven Nightclub
"No one accomplishes anything all alone"
Mentors are the new Prince Charming - We need to reverse the dialogue from the need for a mentor to excel, to excel and a mentor will be attracted to assist you excel further. Men don't struggle finding mentors & sponsors, who have been proven time & again as invaluable tools for career progression. Why? Well, psychologists highlight our innate tendency to build relationships with individuals with common interests, which explains why 'men will often gravitate toward sponsoring younger men, with whom they connect more naturally'. 'Personal connections lead to assignments and promotions', but women have to stand out to be noted as worthy of such opportunities or even career coaching. Sandberg points at the awkwardness surrounding informal professional relationships between male and female colleagues as the root of this dilemma. 'We cannot assume that interactions between men and women have a sexual component'. Until we normalise 'gender' in the workplace, such informal mentorship will remain increasingly difficult and pose threats to the career progression of women in the workplace.
"Communication works best when we combine appropriateness with authenticity"
Boots : Dorothy Perkins
"It is hard to visualise someone as a leader if she is always waiting to be told what to do...take opportunities and make an opportunity fit for you"
Lean In is nothing short of a great book! Sandberg drafted an excellent piece, and I say piece because it reminded me more of a dissertation (especially with its 1/3 long credits at the end) than a novel. She expertly discusses societal norms, career aspirations, love and familial balance, among other issues in a factual yet interesting manner that is sure to have you yearning to make some sort of difference by the end of it. I cannot recommend this enough for any young girl (or boy) in (or about to be in) the workforce. We have a part to play in changing the dialogue. I started this post stating the obvious; men still very much dominate the power seats in many arenas of life. But that is not to say that is right or has to remain that way. Sandberg doesn't provide answers per se, but stimulates conversation backed up with statistical and qualitative evidence. It is time to change...
"Lean in to your career and run the world"