1,086 of 1,149 people found the following review helpful
on March 15, 2013
I had heard some of the buzz about this book before I picked it up. Usually I don't do reviews, but I like reading what other people say about books. I'm writing this because I think some of the reviewers are missing what is significant (at least) to me about the book. Of course, Sheryl Sandberg is priviledged. No one in my family would even dream of going to Harvard. There are no doctors in my family. I don't make millions a year. I'm single with no children. Basically I could disregard half of the book. HOWEVER, the other half really struck a cord with me. I've also been criticized for being too direct -- something that is not considered negative for a man. It made me think about how I approach meetings. Do I speak up? Do I wait for someone else to ask a question so I won't have to? Do I sit at the table? Do I have a voice that says I'm not qualified? Am I an imposter? Thinking about these questions made me realize that I can be passive about my career choices. There's a young man in my department who is new to the industry and training for his new position. Every meeting he speaks up. Even though some of his questions and comments are boarderline embarrassing, I guarantee upper management knows who he is. It doesn't bother him at all to ask those questions. It's an interesting contrast to all the women just sitting there.
The best message to take from this book is to be aware of what is going on in the workplace. Take the opportunity to change the inequality. Don't wait for someone to "fix" things for you. When opportunities present themselves jump on them if it's what you want. Take control.
607 of 658 people found the following review helpful
on April 23, 2013
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
I am a long-time admirer of Sandberg, especially after her inspiring TED talk. But there was one topic so blatantly omitted from "Lean In" that I almost thought the book hadn't downloaded completely: women entrepreneurs. There is not a single full sentence, let alone paragraph or chapter, devoted to this mushrooming class of women who have decided to take control of their own fate, instead of joining in the Sisyphean task of changing power dynamics from the inside out that Sandberg advocates. Elementary buzz words (from Sandberg's own industry no less) like "innovation," "invention," "entrepreneurship" and "disruption" are virtually non-existent, nevermind promoted. Instead, the book is focused on increasing women in positions of power in "governments, corporations, academia, hospitals, law firms, non-profits...[and] research labs." That about sums up Sandberg's scope. "Lean In" reads like an instruction manual on how to run on a hamster wheel of corporate or traditionally defined success when, ironically, she leads a company founded on the exact opposite of these ideals by a visionary college dropout who wanted to upend the world order (for better or worse). Her book is written squarely for women (like her) who possess the admirable patience and perseverance to log decades working for men like Mark Zuckerberg, and, perplexingly, not a call to arms for women to become the next Mark Zuckerberg.
With the power of technology, innovation, and education, the model she advances is becoming- and arguably has become- obsolete. Her approach already feels outdated and it's hard to see how "Lean In" will inspire a revolution. Her call to arms seems to be, "hang on to the jungle gym bars and and claw your way towards something that resembles 'power' so we can claim victory when the face of 'power' looks more equal." To my mind, increased power and victory for women will not come solely from playing nice within existing empires, but from building empires of their own.
Every role model I have has "taken the off ramp" (in some cases quite early) and, through ingenuity and grit, created her own highway. They haven't had to elbow for a seat at the Old Boys Club table. They've built their own damn table.
For well-educated women entrenched in and committed to transforming behemoth institutions: "Lean In" is the roadmap for you. Godspeed. But for creative, enterprising, scrappy, imaginative, restless, optimistic women of every stripe eager to carve out a fulfilling career look elsewhere. Swiss Miss/Tina Roth-Eisenberg's list of over 300 women entrepreneurs is a good place to start. They aren't leaning in. They are leading the way.
839 of 926 people found the following review helpful
on March 21, 2013
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
I want to set the record straight for those who claim that Mrs. Sandberg's advices don't apply to "underprivileged" women - I consider myself "underprivileged" and I found this book incredibly relatable and inspiring.
Why do I call myself "underprivileged":
1. I came to the U.S. when I was 22 years old, speaking broken English. Today, I still feel that my options are limited because of my English :)
2. I don't have any family connection in the U.S. When I arrived the U.S. for the 1st time in my life, I didn't have any friends.
3. My parents are no where near the term "privileged". They don't have money, power, or connections.
4. I didn't graduate from prestige schools like Harvard - I wish I could. But I am still proud of my 2 Master's degrees in science. I earned them through hardworking. I had to work a full-time day job + a night job + going to school full time so that I could pay for the out-of-state tuition, support my parents and my brother, and keep my legal status
Today, I am a senior manager in IT industry- not nearly as sucessful as Mrs. Sandberg. But you can see why I relate to her in many ways:
1. Like Mrs. Sandberg and her husband, my husband and I are full-time working parents with 2 young children
2. Like Mrs. Sandberg and her husband, I plan kids' parties and my husband manages family finances. My husband and I divide our family duties
3. Like Mrs. Sandberg and her husband, my husband and I insist on having dinners with our children everyday and share the favorite part of the day and the worst part of the day - cannot believe they do this too!
4. At work, I always sit at the table - just like her
5. I often feel guilty about not spending more time with my kids or not knowing all the details about my kids' daily lives - Mrs. Sandberg did it, too
6. When at work, I compared myself with working men. When at home, I compared myself with stay home mothers - just like how Mrs. Sandberg did at one point! Thanks to my husband who pulled me out of this self-imposed unfair comparision - just like how her husband supported her all along!
7. My kids had head lices and I had to stop working to pick them up from school. Treating head lice was not fun. But guess what? Mrs. Sandberg had to go through that, too! Head lices don't discriminate against so called "privileges" after all... :)
8. Maybe I shouldn't admit this publicly... But yes my kids have slept in school cloth so that we can save 15 precious minutes in the morning. My parents couldn't afford PJs when I was a kid. And trust me, not wearing PJ at night is't the end of the world
9. I cried, once, in front of my male boss. Such a relife to find out that she cried, too!
10. After my maternity leave, my male boss put me in a shared office with a male co-worker... I couldn't pump! I went to HR and told them that I should have the same single office as I had before my leave because my productivity didn't go down just because I had a child! I got my office back. And they found a small room for other women workers who don't have single offices to pump. Didn't Mrs. Sandberg ask for parking spots for preganent women because of her pregnancy? - way to go! Workplaces should be sensitive to these women issues.
11. At work, I am facing the same exact struggles she has been through. On top of it, I fear that females who came from other countries are much less represented at the tables...
The list can go on and on... I found myself in every chapter she wrote. I feel that her advices directly address my insecurity and help me find strength to move on to bigger and better things.
So, Do NOT let those "privilege" arguments get in your way. Do read this book and allow yourself be inspired by her. And ask ourselves this: If a "privileged" and highly successful women like her admits that she cannot do it all, why should we, "underprivileged" women burn ourselves out trying to do it all? I found this liberating.
The issues Mrs. Sandberg talked about and the advices she gave don't apply to all women. But they apply to ALL AMBITIONS women.
Mrs. Sandberg helped many women. I'll try to do the same - I am going to share this book with my junior colleagues just like how Mrs. Sandberg shared this book with all of us.
538 of 599 people found the following review helpful
on March 23, 2013
There are a lot of great quotes in this book, such as: "To be called ruthless a man must be Joe McCarthy, a woman just has to put you on hold."-- Marlo Thomas
However, my favorite quote is not in the book, but is the quote I've used to title this review from Feminist pioneer Gloria Steinem, about the book:
"Only in women is success viewed as a barrier to giving advice."-- Gloria Steinem
This is a life-changing book, if you let it be. By writing truthfully (with the able assistance of legendary Hollywood comedy writer and journalist Nell Scovell) about her own failings and insecurities, Sheryl Sandberg tells every woman who reads this book that they are not alone if they ever pulled back from their ambitions, whatever they may be.
But part of what makes the book is so profound at this moment in our history is the vicious criticism that is being hurled at it. Mostly, Sheryl Sandberg is being criticized for being a successful woman, and then daring to write a book of advice so that other women might also be successful in whatever they choose to do, whether it's running a company or raising a child.
What a spoiled bitch.
Well, that's what she's being accused of, at any rate. You see, according to her critics, her observations are invalid, because she's not a coal miner's daughter or some such, but instead was the daughter of a physician and a woman who fought to save Soviet Jews, for no pay.
That's how you get to be a spoiled bitch, apparently.
According to Sheryl Sandberg's critics, another thing spoiled bitches do is work really hard in school and get accepted to Harvard. Because, you see, her parents could afford to send her to that prestigious school, which somehow invalidates what it took for her to qualify. Sandberg's critics apparently feel that her lack of financial need nullified her scholastic accomplishments.
The fact that there has been this much venom spewed at the writer of a business book (does anybody know what Jack Welch's dad did for a living or who paid his college tuition? Does anyone care?) tells you everything you need to know about how the playing field for women in business is in no way equal. This book is full of well-sourced research about how men and women in management are viewed differently by both men and women employees, so if you are a woman trying to get ahead in business and feel your gender causes you to be regarded differently than the men you work with, well here's what, you're not crazy after all.
But you are also not off the hook. That's the best part of this book, it acknowledges that things will be different for a woman in the workplace, and then gives you real, practical strategies for dealing with the attitudes of others, and most importantly, your attitudes about yourself. Because maybe things will be different 100 years from now, but since you won't be alive, this book can honestly help you deal with your life in the here and now.
Read this book. Then give it to a young woman you love as she heads out into the world. No matter what she chooses to do with her life, this book will help.
77 of 86 people found the following review helpful
on February 15, 2014
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
This book does a great job of defining the current state of women in the workplace. My one take-away was "men are promoted based on their potential, women are promoted based on their accomplishments".
The rest of the book, instead of telling women like me how to become a woman like her who HAS been promoted and who WAS in the right place at the right time, and who DID have an Ivy League education and come from a well-placed family, was more focused on how to have a baby (which I never did) and balance having a baby with work and not feeling guilty about making time to raise your family AND have your career. Oh, and men, pick up the slack at home so that your woman doesn't have to do it all when she gets home.
I've got the support at home, I have worked my butt off, I fought for my country and worked myself through college. I just haven't been at the right place at the right time, I suppose, and now am $6.99 short from the money I wasted on this book.
Oh, and one final take-away, even though the importance of having a well-placed mentor is paramount and emphasized, she makes it clear to not ask HER to be your mentor. She doesn't even KNOW you, for crying out loud! You must wait to RECOGNIZED or discovered by your magical, well-placed mentor!!! One more story of the ever elusive golden egg which most of us will never see.
How about an actual idea, like pioneering a rotational program for women in your organization through which you rotate women through a C-level position on a monthly basis and compensate them as such! This would give them EXPOSURE to the well-placed mentors, EXPERIENCE to enhance their resume and skills set, and a little KICK in their salary base which, to most, would be the most money they have ever seen in a month or even a year! Such a program, if proven effective, could be mimicked by other organizations and actually DO something for women versus just talking about it.
39 of 42 people found the following review helpful
on February 14, 2014
I found Ms. Sandberg's account of her career success unrealistic compared to that of the average woman. I wish she was more forthcoming about any missteps or failures that she learned from that may have contributed to her success, aside from her first marriage or misspeaking at a conference. I found it discouraging to read excerpt after excerpt of her just stumbling upon an open door, or simply just asking for a door to be opened, and that door being effortlessly opened. She gave good advice, but did not provide enough first hand accounts of the struggle that comes with being a female in a leadership position. Ms. Sandberg did not effectively achieve conveying the struggles of women in the work force, impacted by gender and social norms. Therefore, I cannot relate to her triumphs and her message.
83 of 95 people found the following review helpful
on April 2, 2013
I preface what I'm about to say with this: 1) I'm a paralegal and was a single mother for several years. Despite the online ads you see from unaccredited diploma mills, the paralegal profession doesn't pay enough to hire a nanny. 2) My profession also falls neatly in line with the most common job for women in 2013: secretary. Why women continue to dominate this profession deserves a book of its own. I may even write it someday. But that's my personal story, not Sheryl Sandberg's. And Sheryl's story is the reason I read her book.
As for being a single parent, for those unaware, mothers suffer more discrimination in the workplace than any other demographic. It's a serious problem, especially now that we outnumber men in both the workforce and in universities. When we factor in part-time work with full-time work, pay for women with children hovers at about 60 cents on a man's dollar. Yep. That's a number you don't hear much about. Also, let's quash the myth that kids are a "lifestyle choice." Having children is natural. If we stop having them the world will, you know, end. Oh, and society depends on maintaining a birthrate so that people can continue to contribute taxes to Social Security, Medicare, etc. The problem with having kids in the U.S. is that we have created a culture where having them is unequivocally to the social and economic detriment of women. Our child support system is arbitrary and inconsistent, and supportive social programs, such as paid maternity leave, affordable daycare, etc., are nonexistent. For these reasons, our birthrate has stagnated. As women continue to pursue education at unprecedented rates, this number will stall even more. It's time to discuss mothers in the workplace. This is what Sheryl has done.
With that said, I'm premising my review on the most common complaints to her book. Here goes:
COMPLAINT: It's a narrow view on a diverse topic.
RESPONSE: Well, yeah. Women outnumber men in the workforce. To discuss every professional scenario would be virtually impossible. Sandberg is also in a very unique and lonely position: she is one of the few women at the VERY top. You don't reach her position without a healthy dose of gender discrimination along the way. She refused to internalize stereotypes and persevered.
COMPLAINT: She's a rich white woman born into affluence.
RESPONSE: Unlike many children of affluent families, Sandberg actually attended a public school and still managed to get into Harvard. Also, millions of females have been born into affluence over the years, so why aren't they proportionately represented in top U.S. companies? Because getting there as a woman is undeniably difficult regardless of her economic status and social upbringing.
COMPLAINT: She's wealthy and has a nanny, maid, etc. She doesn't understand middle-class or poor women.
RESPONSE: Yes, she's wealthy. No, she's never experienced poverty as a single parent. But she cares about women's issues and their effect on the workplace. Deeply. She actively advocates for flextime and maternity leave -- even when it's not a popular thing to do. She's also fully cognizant that women continue to be tethered to the home in a way men are not -- especially single moms. There's a lot that needs to change, and having a woman at the top promoting women's issues is a good thing. Period.
COMPLAINT: She focuses too heavily on women being responsible for their careers and not on the males who dominate the professional world.
RESPONSE: A defining feature of oppression is that both dominant and subordinate groups internalize the norms set by the dominant group and accept them as normal. In other words, women are internalizing -- and perpetuating -- male dominance in the workplace. This is important because, as I said, women now outnumber men in the workforce. Therefore, they are part of the solution. Sandberg thinks we need to "lean in." She is right. Those in lower positions (like myself) can collectively group to promote their cause. I've seen it happen in fields such as nursing. Of course, this requires a cease fire on the infighting that is so common in these female-dominated professions (i.e. phrases like "nurses eat their young" exist for a reason). Stop the bullying and create a culture of respect and collective bargaining power.
TAKEAWAY: It's no surprise this book caused an immediate furor. Infighting is common among oppressed groups -- and, unfortunately, most of the criticism is coming from women. I won't discuss it here in the interest of length, but a great article on internalized oppression (which Gloria Steinem mentioned in her review) can be found through the University of Kansas on their website "The Community Toolbox." Once you read it you'll never see discrimination or female infighting in the same light again.
Sandberg could easily sit on the sidelines and enjoy her status and wealth. After all, feminist issues are an unpopular topic. Yet she wrote a book anyway. To have a woman at the very top fighting for women's rights in the workplace could not be more important. For those of us in the middle (and the bottom) we have our own experiences. We too can blog, write books, and give talks on our unique perspectives. The bottom line is that it's time to lean in and modify the men's rules. We're here. We're not leaving. We have the right to workplace equality and pay. Let's stop with the infighting and make it happen.
81 of 96 people found the following review helpful
on June 12, 2013
If you're looking for actual advice at how to be a woman in the work place and deal with the various politics you will have to inevitably deal with - don't bother reading this book. The second she gets onto an interesting topic and starts investigating the psychology behind what's happening in a given situation, is the second she derails, drops a few names followed by a statistic, and gives no actual advice or constructive break down. If you're looking for actual guidance, read "PushBack" - Sandberg is cited in it for her TEDTalk, and then it gives you something useful to work with. Or "Work Happy" is fantastic as well - though it pretty much comprises Covey and Carnegie, like most management books do in one way or another...
I'm not sure if she's trying to market this book as business management help or not - but it's really not useful for that, like the title suggests. I think the useful advice could be whittled down to about 30 pages. If she actually broke down what was happening systematically in any one of her chapters, then it could be useful for women to work with and start paying attention to what they can do to help themselves out. If I could give this book half a star, I would. If I could get my money back from buying this book in the first place, I would.
62 of 73 people found the following review helpful
on May 28, 2013
I have to give this book mixed reviews. This is an excellent book about women in leadership positions in corporate America. It is an excellent book about obstacles women encounter in trying to ascend the corporate "jungle gym" and societal and personal expectations. Sandberg gives excellent testimonials, is honest, vulnerable, and transparent, and she tandems her own experiences with good research and scientific data.
However, this is not a book about mothers in leadership positions. As I turned through the pages chapter by chapter, I was expecting to learn how she blends motherhood into her corporate life. I was sorely disappointed that the discussion wasn't there. When I finished the book, I needed to reread the jacket to see if my expectation was misplaced. But no, she bills this book as the mother who can do it all. Even the opening sentence, "I was pregnant with my first child in 2004", suggests a discussion about parenting. There are no testimonials about her own parenting experiences, or dialogue about how her children fit into and are affected by her corporate leadership life. After reading the book, I know more about her relationship with Mark Zuckerberg than I do about her relationship with her children. She doesn't even share how many kids she has, or their age and gender. One very heart-felt testimonial involved a woman who would dress her kids in their school clothes
at bedtime so she could save 15 mins in the morning; but this wasn't her story, it was the story of one of her colleagues. There is another story about a female subordinate who sits through a dinner time meeting, shifting anxiously, becasue she needs to nurse her child and doesn't feel she can leave the meeting early. But again, this is not her story. When she does try to devote discussion about parenting, there are no personal accounts and it comes off as clunky, inauthentic, and dishonest. She fails to give the same honest, vulnerable account of parenting that she provides in her discussions on leadership.
If this was a book about women in corporate American, I would give it 4 stars. But I actually find it a little deceitful that this is billed as a book about how a mother balances parenting with her rise to leadership. It's a good read, and certainly worth reading, I just find it is not the book it promises to be.
23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on April 27, 2014
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
If ever an author penned a book that screamed "yea me!' it's this one. I tried to get through this book. I really did. Sheryl Sandberg's arrogance was an obstacle I just could not overcome. Maybe because my education was not Ivy League. Her writing style is off putting and she does not come across as a very likeable person. The book's substance seems rife with fairly obvious conclusions and yet Sandberg seems to imagine herself so brilliantly insightful. This book seems to be written from the perspective of a person of privilege who has been the recipient of many opportunities the average woman will never see. Not really very helpful.