I may be three years late to the game (the book was published in 2013) but I thought it was still worth sharing my thoughts about Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg since many of you have probably not read the book and women today are still facing the same issues as they did three years ago and probably will 30 years from now.
I took so long to read the book because I thought I would hate it and I’d rather spend my free time reading things that I either enjoy or learn from than want to throw at the wall. However, three women whom I dearly love and trust told me that I should read it and I would enjoy it. So, I finally took it out from my local library and dug in.
I hated the first chapter and almost stopped reading it. I felt she was asking the impossible of most women. Certainly, she was asking of things that I just knew would not happen in our family dynamic.
But I persevered and I’m glad I did.
There’s a lot that I did not like about what Sheryl said but as someone who writes in the public realm I understand the immense courage it took for her to talk frankly and openly about an extremely heated topic. Therefore, I’m only going to write about what I found useful.
First off, a quick background. I worked ten years in corporate insurance. I did quite well. I was never managerial but I certainly was one of the few females at my level when I worked as an underwriter at Lloyd’s of London. I won awards and was well regarded. But I never truly loved my position and felt I could always do more. After my first child was born, I decided not to go back to corporate. I now blog where I earn a very very very small amount of money and have started a family photography business recently.
Just because your income now does not pay for childcare, think of it as an investment into your future earnings. My income now is meagre but I look at these years as an investment into growing my business into where one day it will be fulfilling.
Women need to be more confident in themselves and their abilities and their potential abilities. She lists time and time again when women did not speak up, apply for a job they should have or seized an opportunity when they should have. This is hard but I think we need to be encouraging of one another in this area and after time it will hopefully come more naturally. I remember going for a job interview wondering if I was qualified. Someone told me that they thought I must be qualified if they were bothering to interview me. It gave me the confidence to really shoot for the job and I got it.
Women need to support each other more and we need to be more aware of gender bias. In my very first job there was a very scary manager who was a woman. She actually said some really mean things to me that almost had me in tears and was not very encouraging. I was so disappointed – I thought she should be more nurturing and compassionate. I wonder if I would have had the same thoughts if it was a man or felt so betrayed.
Sheryl recommends a lot of the same concepts for getting work done that I use and mentioned last week. Things like deciding what needs to be done 100% and what is good enough at say 95%. She also writes lists using a pad and paper like me.
The more I think about it the more my biggest take from this book is just recognizing the differences in gender and being conscious of it. Being a stronger negotiator (I used to negotiate for a living, this should be easy for me), recognizing when women are being treated differently because of their gender, standing up for myself. My husband is a super-negotiator and has an amazingly big job making huge deals that would crush me under their importance. He and I often look at things differently and he is always the one telling me to stand my ground, be stronger in my self-promotion or be more confident in my abilities. It’s one part encouragement, yes, but another is years of doing that himself.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this book (even if you read it three years ago!) If not, your library will likely have it or you can check out her TedTalk here which has been viewed over 6 million times.
Originally from the prairies and now in Montreal, I love exploring new places, eating great food and modern design. I'm mom of two wild things and paper and cake make me happy.
Photographing your cutie family would make me very happy.