Sheryl Sandberg is one of the top technological executives in the world who also focuses on activism and authorship. With a net worth of one billion dollars, she is one of the wealthiest women in the world and acts as the chief operating officer as well as a board member of Facebook. Her first foray into non-fiction literature, Lean In, is a compelling piece highlighting the many hardships faced by women in the workplace that are fueled by patriarchy as well as sexism. With meticulously researched statistics to showcase the validity of her claims as well as insightful advice, Sandberg has made a valiant effort through this book to start the conversation and ease the life of working women.
The book explores the various important concepts that have subtly but consistently plagued women since their initial participation in world economy. While the innate sexism and misogyny is rampant in many workplaces even today, Sandberg chooses to focus upon the finer aspects of them. She talks about how women have been conditioned to believe themselves unworthy of their own achievements and often try to downplay them. To combat the imposter syndrome that most women feel in a workplace, she advises them to “lean in” to the well-deserving compliments they receive and learn to embrace the fact that they are capable and hence worthy of it.
“Owning one’s success is key to achieving more success.”
She has given a beautiful description of how women are impossibly expected to be polite and presentable while at the same time disregarded for being too nice for the job.
“If a woman is competent, she doesn’t seem nice enough. If a woman seems really nice, she is considered more nice than competent. Since people want to hire and promote those who are both competent and nice, this creates a huge stumbling block for women.”
She emphasizes the fact that “done is better than perfect” and speculates that women often don’t even try to execute their ambitions fearing that they won’t be able to execute it to perfection.
She has sprinkled the narrative with her own personal anecdotes that make the whole affair all the more intimate. She doesn’t shy away from accepting her own failings and describes how many people in her life have been instrumental in showing her the way that she is trying to show us in the book.
Despite her niche audience of the wealthy, working kind, Sandberg has heavily quoted many phenomenal feminists in her book that inspire all women .
‘As Gloria Steinem observed, “whoever has power takes over the noun-and the norm-while the less powerful get an adjective.”’
While the book does open up the dialogue about a subject that needs to be talked about, the brand of feminism she endorses misses out in quite a few avenues. Feminism as a movement has grown tremendously over the years and has evolved with the concurrent political scenario. Intersectionality is one of those aspects and it explores the concept of different marginalities interlocking in the power play of the society, hence affecting certain groups of women more vehemently than the others. Sandberg completely glosses over this fact and also conveniently forgets that not all women have the privilege that only some women like her do.
Her advices seem to ask women to adjust themselves to a flawed system of hierarchy instead of changing the system itself. She implores them to lean in and keep pushing to reach the summit of their career while simultaneously handling the pressures of maintaining a family. While it does sound like good advice, the fact of the matter is that it reads likes another impossible expectation that women must adhere to in order to be recognized. She preaches that all women would stand to gain if more women were to advance into leadership positions. While this does sound worthwhile in theory, its practical utility for the masses is negligible at best. The self-improvement and capitalist success of a few privileged women could never overcome the concrete solution of collective political actions such as wage-gap removal and universal childcare.
Despite some of its flaws, Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In has the potential to resonate with a lot of women and is also an impeccable piece of literature for everyone to read up on in order to be aware of a critical subject concerning women empowerment. For its articulate flow, ingenious ideas and brevity of subject, Lean In merits 3.5 stars out of a possible 5. It is a brilliant book for all young girls, aspiring women as well as intellectual individuals willing to broaden their horizons.
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