Have You Leaned in Lately? What We Can Learn from Sheryl Sandberg
Apparently, we women are supposed to be leaning in. The Chief Operating Officer of Facebook, Sheryl Sandberg, recently wrote a "sort of feminist manifesto" titled, yes, you guessed it, Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead.
Sandberg thinks the women's revolution is stalled. She believes women downplay their accomplishments, worry too much about being liked, pass on growth opportunities at work because they fear they don't have the skills and slow down in anticipation of having children.
“We hold ourselves back in ways both big and small, by lacking self-confidence, by not raising our hands, and by pulling back when we should be leaning in,” she writes.
And that means that men still run the world. Which of course they do. Women still only account for 4 percent of the CEOs in America's Fortune 500 companies. Even though they have been getting more college degrees than men for the past 3 decades!
I have read some of the criticism of the book, calling her an elitist (a billionaire with two Harvard degrees) who is too quick too blame women and does not focus enough on sexism in the workplace. She is criticized for setting unrealistic expectations for working women, when instead we should demand companies provide better childcare, more flexible hours and higher pay.
I do agree that corporations need to do more to help women who want to succeed at work and take care of their families. But as I watched Sandberg on 60 Minutes, I found myself constantly nodding in agreement. She is right. We women still do too much apologizing and not enough reaching for what we really want, and more importantly, deserve.
As a former TV journalist who transitioned into blogging and freelance writing, how often in the beginning was I willing to accept dismal or no pay for the promise of increased traffic and links to my blog! Seriously?! I was an award winning journalist with a master's from an Ivy League institution. Why on earth wasn't I demanding proper pay for my work?
Whether you work for a corporation or yourself, there is something to take away here from Sandberg's "manifesto." If you settle for nothing, you get nothing. As mothers, we have very little time to spare. So we better spend our time doing something of value and getting properly compensated for it. I do plenty of volunteering, but when I'm working, I want to be fairly paid.
Sandberg doesn't claim to be perfect. Not at all. She admits that when Mark Zuckerberg offered her the job at Facebook, she was ready to take the first offer. It was her husband who insisted she negotiate. I often work with companies, giving them exposure to my readership and helping them with social media. And I know that I have been too quick at times to accept their first financial offer.
I don't think we should view Sandberg's insights at the final word on the women's movement. But her ideas are an important part of the conversation. And she has inspired me to lean in just a bit more.