Wednesday, July 3, 2013

‘Lean In’ offers insights for women who work outside home - theparisnews.com: Guest Columns

Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead

‘Lean In’ offers insights for women who work outside home - theparisnews.com: Guest Columns


I don’t typically agree with the best seller list, but there are always exceptions, such as Sheryl Sandberg’s book, “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead.”   Written mostly for women who choose to work outside the home, it also insightful for their families, bosses and co-workers.


According to Sandberg, “the blunt truth is that men still run the world,” despite the fact that women have made up at least 50 percent of college graduates since the early 1980s. She states that: 1) of the 195 independent countries in the world, only 17 are lead by women; 2) only 21 of the Fortune 500 CEOS are women (including Sandburg who went from Google to Facebook); and 3) that women hold 14 percent of executive officer positions, 17 percent of board seats and only 18 percent of congress. Women have outpaced men in education, but are ceasing to make any real progress in the top of the industry. We are not breaking through the proverbial glass ceiling.

I found Sandberg’s book refreshing because instead of playing the blame game, Sandberg gave an honest look at the issue and made some excellent points. I agree with her that although there are many factors involved, the simple truth is that choice is a factor in those statistics that shouldn’t be ignored.

This isn’t surprising to anyone. Women have been able to embrace many choices in my lifetime. Many women have chosen not to work outside the home, but many have also just gotten tired of fighting it, so they have given up their work dreams either literally or by backing off.

If you are one of the latter, or if you are a woman new to the working field with big dreams, or if you are related to such a woman or work with one, I urge you to read the book and learn some tips from a woman who is right there.

The main tips? Lean in (actually sit down at the table and share your opinions). Find a mentor (many factors make this hard for women). Make sure your partner is a real partner; understand the “myth of doing it all.” (For example, family chores are “family” chores). Finally, talk about it: “We cannot change what we are not aware of, and once we are aware, we cannot help but change.”

We do none of us any good by not being honest about what we women face in the working world and at home. Sandberg does a good job of challenging women on our own ambition gaps, while giving tips on how to navigate the business world. She also makes a good point about why boards and businesses will be more profitable with more women.

Sandberg’s book reenergizes an important discussion. So, I hope you’ll turn off your non e-reader electronic devices and join me in reading this gem of a book. You might just change the life of a working woman you know.

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