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Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead Hardcover – Deckle Edge, March 11, 2013
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An Amazon Best Book of the Month, March 2013: Anyone who's watched Sheryl Sandberg's popular TED Talk, "Why We Have Too Few Women Leaders," is familiar with--and possibly haunted by--the idea of "having it all." "Perhaps the greatest trap ever set for women was the coining of this phrase," writes Sandberg in Lean In, which expands on her talk's big idea: that increasing the number of women at the top of their fields will benefit everyone. Sandberg, the COO of Facebook, encourages women to challenge the common workplace assumption that "men still run the world." She asks men to be real partners, sharing in the family work that typically leads to a woman's decision to stay home; she asks women who expect to start a family soon not to check out of work mentally. Sandberg's critics note that her advice may not resonate with the masses: The Harvard-educated exec can afford a veritable army to help raise her children. But Sandberg's point--which affects all of us--is that women who have what it takes to succeed at the highest professional level face many obstacles, both internal and external. Lean In is likely to spur the conversations that must happen for institutional changes to take place at work. --Alexandra Foster
*Starred Review* If Facebook COO (and first-time author) Sandberg succeeds, it will be because she’s made us mad—and more than willing to act. With no small amount of self-deprecating humor, a massive quantity of facts and research, plus a liberal dose of very personal anecdotes, Sandberg forces each one of us—woman and man—to reexamine ourselves at work and in life, using a unique filter. Are we more concerned about being liked than succeeding? Do we think of our career as a series of upward ladders rather than a jungle gym? Do our authentic selves—and honesty—show up in business? In short, every single undoing of a woman’s career is examined thoughtfully and with twenty-first-century gentleness and exposed with recommended remedies. Her colleagues act as advocates for her theme: lean in, or take a risk and drive change for us all. And though there are no solutions offered, except in the formation of communities around the country and (we hope!) around the world, there’s tremendous reenergy in feeling that, thanks to Sandberg, the world just might be a different place. --Barbara Jacobs
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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.