I come from a line of strong, independent women, at the very least beginning with my grandmother. She raised four kids almost entirely by herself and pushed them to greatness. From those kids, two of them, my aunt and my mother, went on to stellar careers at NASA and in healthcare, respectively. I even married a strong, independent woman who’s already making her way up through the ranks at Pinnacle Health (promoted three times in as many years). For me, women who take charge and pursue their passions boldly has been normal since birth.
It was a surprise for me when I found out the rest of the world doesn’t necessarily think this way. While in the last 50 years leaps and bounds have been made to achieve new levels of equality for women at home and the work, much of the systemic sexism has not left the American, even if it is less overt. Women still make less than men do while holding the same job title. Women are expected to be able to juggle both work and family life if they are in the workforce, whereas men can balance the two without the judgmental eye of society on them. There’s a long way to go toward equality between the sexes, and some days it seems like all people doing are just shouting at each other, whether it’s men vs. women, or women vs. women.
This is where Sheryl Sandberg and Lean In comes in. The COO of Facebook (yeah, that’s right!) published this book just this year as an encouragement to women to stand up, take charge, and lean into their careers. It’s straight-up feminism as it was meant to be, and in case you don’t know what that is, it means “believing in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes.” Far from the image of the humorless combat-booted butch girl your civics teacher painted for you, Sandberg actually writes a very accessible, yet honest treatise that makes the plight of women in the workplace everyone’s fight, drawing from her personal experiences in corporate America as well as referencing the writings of feminists both past and present to make her case. Anyone who wants to can read this book and feel like they’re listening to a friend tell them the truth of the matter, rather than being preached at.
I bought this book for my wife as an anniversary gift (yeah, I’m an awesome husband…OK, she asked for it). She loved every single page and has begun to apply the thoughts and philosophies Sandberg presents in her own office, where she’s the only person with no Y chromosome. Because of it, she feels emboldened in the workplace, and I couldn’t be more proud to see her moving through the corporate jungle gym like she is right now. It’s wonderful.
I added this book to my reading list because I’ve begun a sort-of self-study in privilege. I’ve recently become pretty aware of my own position in this matter, and I want to push forward in the fight against systemic oppression of any kind by listening to those without privilege and standing in solidarity with them. Lean In turned out to be a fantastic place to start. Sandberg isn’t someone inclined to rip people to shreds, men or women, but will be honest enough to say, “Hey, you’ve got some things I don’t, and you didn’t exactly earn them.” Reading Lean In helped me see not only how I can support my wife in everything she does, but also stand in solidarity with women everywhere. It even inspired me to work a little bit more on my own career values, where I’ll go and what I’ll do and such.
Seriously, Sandberg, your book is excellent. I can’t stress enough how much I loved it and want others to read it. In the words of another feminist like you, Eshet Chayil!