The bestselling book Lean In by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg has been called a new feminist manifesto, and hailed everywhere from the cover of Time (“Don’t Hate Her Because She’s Successful“), to an Oprah special to Katie Couric’s show and beyond.
Sandberg is considered one of the world’s most influential women — ranked higher than Oprah last year — and this book is about how while yes there are be more aggressive and be more proactive to be successful — focus, sacrifice, the mythical ‘work/life balance’ are all issues in play.
Her motto is her book title: Lean In. She says women need to lean in to their careers more, lean in to business meetings and stand less on the sidelines, be more confident and more outspoken. She says women need to be themselves and also be more confident and driven, like men (yep, she goes there).
I spent an afternoon this weekend curled up with Lean In — as much as you can curl up with a book on iPad — and it’s a quick, pleasant enough read, but as a call to action? Meh.
The book has good business advice on contributing, learning, being confident, having a mentor, and jumping at opportunities when they happen. Good advice for all of us, as yes we should all “lean in”… but this is not new.
Yes laws need to change, as the US is one of the few developed countries that does not mandate paid maternity leave. And women make up very few CEOs of top 500 companies, despite having more university graduations and master’s degrees than men. The old boys club lives on.
Sandberg tries to be humble and geeky, which may be how she feels, but this is a rich powerful woman, from a privileged family and with a successful husband. She has money and a team to support her. Sandberg may not be the best person to just tell women to be more confident and assertive… She can lean in all she wants. In order for this to be a manifesto, I want to see the poor black single mom with four kids talk about how she made it.