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A manifesto on working for (and not becoming) the next Mark Zuckerberg
, April 23, 2013
This review is from: Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead (Hardcover)
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 Her approach already feels outdated and it's hard to see how "Lean In" will inspire a revolution.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.
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