Reading: Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg

lean in sheryl sandberg

“Leaning in” is such a catch phrase these days I catch people using it often and sometimes out of context, like how feminism is thrown around by brands and advertising like a trending buzzword that perverted the meaning of the word and deviate quite far from the principles.

There have been so many mixed reviews about this book and most of my women friends hate it, my gay friends like it and I don’t have many men friends who have read it! One of my mum friends said that only elitist professional women identify with it and love the book. I think there are so many schools of thoughts but Sandberg continually acknowledges that everyone is different have different needs and priorities and is not saying that this is the way to go for all women – to lean in the way she does. She is starting a conversation and I realise can never win, there will always be haters, but the courage of leading the conversation – a very uncomfortable one is a great start to begin with.

Of course the perspective from one women is limiting and there are plenty of privileges that Sandberg has access to – her racial profile as a white woman already puts her in the privileged category, her financial liberty allows for child care options etc.

Sometime ago, I applied for a global strategist job at Facebook and the agreement with my husband was if I got the job, we would relocate and he’d give up his Michelin stars and “take one for the team” as I did for him the last 4 years. Well, I didn’t get the job, so we didn’t need to have the conversation. We don’t have children (yet) and I am certain the going gets tougher, but to Sandberg’s point women overthink what ifs and almost make choices with resignation instead of going with the flow and deal with things are they come.

The reality is women can’t have it all and everyone has their own limits, priorities and boundaries. I really enjoyed the read simply because someone had to be the bad guy to raise and begin this conversation on leaning in and we can all agree to disagree, right?

We’re so privileged and fortunate in Asia as compared to the US, women get longer paid maternity leave from 2-3 months and there are affordable child care options, from nannies to domestic help for household chores.

“The gender stereotypes introduced in childhood are reinforced throughout our lives and become self-fulfilling prophesies. Most leadership positions are held by men, so women don’t expect to achieve them, and that becomes one of the reasons they don’t.”

“Staying quiet and fitting in may have been all the first generations of women who entered corporate America could do; in some cases, it might still be the safest path. But this strategy is not paying off for women as a group. Instead, we need to speak out, identify the barriers that are holding women back, and find solutions.”

“Aggressive and hard-charging women violate unwritten rules about acceptable social conduct. Men are continually applauded for being ambitious and powerful and successful, but women who display these same traits often pay a social penalty. Female accomplishments come at a cost.”

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