Lean In

I did a quick review on Goodreads of Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg in which I gave it 4 stars out of 5 and said every man and woman should read it. Since then, I've thought back to several points that Sandberg made that have clearly stuck with me.

There's 34 pages of citations so let's just accept her facts and recognize that there are exceptions to every rule, OK?

Women get interrupted more then men. I'll buy that. But, here's the surprising thing. Both men and women equally interrupt men. You'd think we'd be more respectful, but no.

Men apply for more jobs they're not fully qualified for.  I've experienced this in hiring. Men look at a job description and see they can do "some" of the stuff. They then think, "I can learn the rest" and apply for the job. Women look at a job description and if they don't have most of the skills listed, they won't apply. I can't tell you how many men I've interviewed who admitted no knowledge of something but very confidently stated they could easily learn it.

Women let family and even potential family hold them back. Women won't pursue the higher level, lots of travel and hours jobs because they think they won't be able to juggle their family responsibilities. EVEN IF THEY DON'T HAVE A FAMILY YET! Yep, women who think they'll have a baby in the next few years will turn down the involved job now just in case they won't be able to handle it later. I remember one time I was given a big assignment that was going to be rather involved and my first response was, "You know my Mom has cancer, right?" I didn't even give thought to whether I could handle it, I just assumed I couldn't. Men tend not to think that way at all. They go for the job, regardless of what's in their personal lives.

Women are risk averse. Women are less likely to ask for new assignments, bigger projects and the like. Sandberg covers this idea throughout the book but one reason for this is that women tend to be less confident and don't think they're up to the task.

Women don't sit at the table. Literally and figuratively. If there's a table in the center of the room and chairs on the side and more people than can fit at the table, women will choose to sit on the side. Even if there are open seats at the table. They're also less likely to speak up (maybe because they keep getting interrupted?).

Women get asked, "How are you doing/will you do it all?" Man announces he's going to be a Father. People congratulate him. Woman announces she's going to be a Mother. People say, "Congratulations, are you going to keep working?" or "Congratulations, have you thought about child care?" Have you ever heard someone ask a dude something like that?

It was difficult to relate to some of Sandberg's stories. She worked at Google then Facebook and her husband worked at Yahoo and SurveyMonkey all at high levels. These are people with some serious cash and power. However, she still showed that she suffered from self-doubt and the anxiety that she can't do it all.

It was a very powerful message, especially for young women. I'm going to be loaning my copy out to many of my friends with demands that they read it.


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