By Sheryl Sandberg
Alfred A. Knopf, $24.95, 228 pages
For every woman who has slogged away at their career, pulling in long hours and feeling like they are not developing an enriching career, all while trying to balance a personal identity, Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer, Sheryl Sandberg, offers inspiration, guidance and a fresh perspective in Lean In: Women, Work and the Will To Lead. In this revolutionary book that reads equal parts memoir, feminist manifesto and professional development seminar, Sandberg examines the paradigms she has faced personally and professionally in the American business community and speaks to its glaring gender gap in a book that is compelling, and insightful to women and men of all backgrounds.
Backed by a wealth of research and personal experiences, Sandberg pins down why she believes there is a gender achievement gap. Her prescription is part old fashioned work ethic combined with a bolstering of confidence. Working hard with confident assurance will promote what she has dubbed a “virtuous circle” in which you assume you can achieve your personal and professional goals as you step boldly forward into professional challenges. Her idea behind the “circle” is that the success from your professional growth will eventually put you in a better position to speak out for your needs. Others like you will benefit which increases the likelihood of their success.
“A truly equal world would be one where women ran half our countries and men ran half our homes.”
At times Lean In felt self-congratulatory. For women who are not in a place of power or feel vulnerable in their workplace, Sandberg’s advice can feel a bit preachy and unrealistic. But for many women, Sandberg offers empathy and a moving call to action. With way more than half of Fortune 500 companies led by men, gender equality in the American workforce is still a lofty notion. If today’s American women don’t “lean in” to their careers and work towards finding their seat at the table among industry leaders, who will?
Reviewed by Kristin Leigh