On Leaning In

Everywhere I go, people are talking about Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg’s manifesto to women who work and the men who work with them in the office and at home.

My favorite fictional working girl

My favorite fictional working girl

My book group–a collection of talented, hardworking young women in media, art, law and public health–discussed Sandberg’s ideas (and the backlash she’s received) this past weekend. Here’s where we (mostly) landed:

1) The two chapters that resonated with us most were “Don’t Leave Before You Leave” and “Make Your Partner a Real Partner.” We’ve all seen the first manifested in our peers and in ourselves, subconsciously (or even consciously) factoring nonexistent kids and spouses into our plans. We also agreed with Sandberg that when it comes to choosing those spouses, finding a truly equal partner will be key to succeeding at work while also raising a family.

2) Negotiation is hard. How do you really do it? None of us think Sandberg’s advice–to tell a potential employer that we want to negotiate because we know women generally get paid less than men–is practical. I literally rolled my eyes when I read that.

3) The real target for this book should be the men we work with and date. These are ideas we talk about all the time. But even though many of the concepts aren’t new to us, it’s good that someone as high-profile as Sandberg is putting it in print, and starting a national conversation that carries across gender.

4) We may not call it a “lean-in circle,” but we all think we should talk about our career issues more. We need to help each other navigate tricky situations (negotiations, office politics, etc.), and the fact that we’re in a variety of industries is actually an asset.

5) This book is written for a very specific audience. Some of the ideas and advice can be far reaching and more universal, and some of them cannot. We can’t ignore the lens through which we see our futures and careers and have these conversations, which is one of urban, educated women raised in financially comfortable families.

Have you read Lean In? What did you think?

Photo credit: The Museum of Broadcast Communications