I have so much to say about this book. My mother has been trying to get me to read this for the longest time, and I finally caved when she mailed it to me. I hate to admit it, but I was really looking at reading this book as a chore I had to do. But I will be the first to admit, this book sucked me in. First of all, it is FILLED with insane facts and figures, as well as ridiculous studies completed in modern (2012) America that prove how sexist we still are on a daily basis!
Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead was written by Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook. It is an easy read for anyone who is interested in human rights. Sheryl writes about her personal experience in the business world as well as studies compiled over the years about women in the workplace. I’ll summarize her main points for those (like my roommate) who know they should read this but don’t want to. Sandberg is basically arguing that if you (as a woman) want to work and have a family, you can. If you want to have a family and be a full time stay at home mom, you can. If you want to work your butt off and not waste your time on stupid boys, you can. Basically do you, and show other women that you have the courage to do you. Women are constantly told that they shouldn’t point out that they want to have kids or that they want to work full time after having babies. It’s fine to want these things, but let’s just not talk about them, for whatever reason. Sandberg urges everyone to talk about what they want and how they are going to get it.
This book reminded me of my biggest pet peeve. I hate HATE HATE when women say they are not feminists. As Caitlin Moran so wisely said, “Do you have a vagina? And do you want to be in charge of it? If you said ‘yes’ to both, then congratulations-you’re a feminist!” But seriously, so what if you are associating yourself with the super-liberal, bra-burning women of the 70’s? Those girls kicked butt and helped us get where we are today! If it wasn’t for those feminists that everyone hates being associated with, us women would probably be earning 40 cents to the male dollar. Ughhhh, come on ladies.
The part I connected with the most in Lean In was definitely the chapter where Sandberg described how women typically “lean out.” At 24, I am super aware of the fact that I want to have babies (lots of them) and settle down. I have already found myself thinking about how I probably shouldn’t go to graduate school because it will be a waste of my money and time if I am just going to go, start working in my dream job, and then get pregnant and be done with the working world. I didn’t even REALIZE how ridiculous I was being until I read Lean In. A) I don’t need to seriously start having babies for another six years, minimum. B) NOW is the best time to go to grad school, BEFORE I have to deal with the non-mobility of having a family/husband/babies. C) As Sandberg points out, if I have an amazing job that I love when I get pregnant, I will want to go back to work that much more after having the baby, and the more I love my job, the less it will seem like a chore to go back to work! Epiphany moment!!
Also critically important is the fact that most people refuse to believe that they are gender biased. In studies when a job interviewer reads over resumes, if the gender is omitted, women always score better than if the gender was evident. There was this one study where scientists had other scientists look at TWO IDENTICAL resumes, but changed the name from a female to a male, and the men were SCORED HIGHER and thought to be a BETTER FIT FOR THE POSITION.
In conclusion, I will end with Sheryl’s words: