Sheryl Sandberg: Lean In

This book has caused some controversy, some women are very much for the policies of Sheryl Sandberg, some are very much against what she has to say.  I asked my radio colleague, Fi Glover, to review Lean In for me, here’s what she had to say :

‘I realised what my problem was with Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In about a third of the way into her semi-autobiographical thesis on how women can get to, or remain in,  the boardroom as well as having a family.

‘She is likeable, she writes well and there is no doubt that she is in a great position to talk about how to get to the top – but here’s the deal….even if you say that you aren’t lecturing other women about how to live their lives but you write a book about how you have lived yours and what you think other women should do – then ‘hey presto!’ it just will be interpreted as telling other women how to do things too.

‘It may happen by default, and it may not be what you intended, but that is the outcome – if only because in telling how you managed to keep your head above water, thrive in the boardroom, magically nurture two young creatures and still look good at photo shoots – you create a danger whereby the message you send out to the sisterhood is that if you haven’t achieved all of that then you have been a bit too ‘leany’ in the wrong direction.

‘Perhaps this is exactly what lies at the crux of Sheryl’s argument – that women need to be better at not judging themselves badly  – but I find it extremely hard not to do that.

‘For me at least, the blur of early years child rearing and work will remain exactly that – a blur where I could barely stand up straight most days – let alone find the time to lean one way or the other on purpose.

‘I can’t face judging myself against someone who was clearly so much more on top of things than me – and I struggle to find the time to read books that make me feel worse about myself, not better.

‘However – and this is the really much more important bit – if this book was placed on every man’s desk from the bottom of a company right up to the top – then we might all get along a bit better.  Sheryl’s message to male colleagues and to partners to make sure they see the whole woman not just her family commitments is a jolly good one.

‘I suspect though that you won’t find this book in the management section, it may well be put in the self-help aisle.  But here’s an idea, if you see ‘Lean In’ in the latter, hoik it out and put it in the former.  Perhaps at a bit of a slant…just for a laugh…..’

Thanks Fi.

Have you read Lean In, what did you think?

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2 Comments

  • Reply
    Amber H. Larsen
    20th May 2013 at 12:34 am

    This interesting book uses fiction along with case law to discuss sex discrimination, sexual harassment, and other issues that women encounter in the workplace. It would be an excellent volume to use in course on law, work and organizations, or sociology of gender. The choice of short stories are also excellent. O’Brien has selected many terrrific authors and short stories to make her points about how law operates in workplace organizations. My only criticism — and it’s a minor one — is that I wished the author said more about why she chose fiction over interviews with women workers. I can think of many reasons, for instance, plaintifss in court cases often wish to be anonymous or, perhaps, don’t want to dwell on the ways they have been victimized. Nonetheless, it would have been helpful if the author had explained her rationale more thoroughly. Still, this is an excellent volume and I highly recommend it. General readers who want to learn more about sex discrimination will also find it useful.

  • Reply
    Amber H. Larsen
    20th May 2013 at 12:34 am

    This interesting book uses fiction along with case law to discuss sex discrimination, sexual harassment, and other issues that women encounter in the workplace. It would be an excellent volume to use in course on law, work and organizations, or sociology of gender. The choice of short stories are also excellent. O’Brien has selected many terrrific authors and short stories to make her points about how law operates in workplace organizations. My only criticism — and it’s a minor one — is that I wished the author said more about why she chose fiction over interviews with women workers. I can think of many reasons, for instance, plaintifss in court cases often wish to be anonymous or, perhaps, don’t want to dwell on the ways they have been victimized. Nonetheless, it would have been helpful if the author had explained her rationale more thoroughly. Still, this is an excellent volume and I highly recommend it. General readers who want to learn more about sex discrimination will also find it useful.

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