I first learned of Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook, when she did a riveting TEDTalk on Why We Have Too Few Women Leaders. It has now received more than two million hits. She gave some good career advice for women in business to “sit at the table” and pursue their goals with passion. I liked her style of using personal anecdotes combined with hard stats to back up her arguments.
Recently, one of my young male colleagues told me I simply must read Sandberg’s book, Lean In. What seemed to impress him most was her 35 pages of endnotes. Again, she has based her arguments on overwhelming research.
Thirty years after the USA reached the 50-50 mark of male/female college grads, men still hold most leadership positions in government and industry. Sandberg examines why women’s progress in achieving leadership roles has stalled—and it’s not just because of sexism. Often women sabotage their own careers by “leaving before they leave.” She goes on to give specific steps that both women and men can take to support women in the workplace and at home.
I especially liked her section on how to pursue a mentor. Hint: Not by asking someone to mentor you.
An unexpected benefit of Lean In was that the book made me profoundly grateful for some men in my life. My husband is a full partner, who has always done our grocery shopping, and from day one he shared the responsibility of “getting up with the baby.” Additionally, two men have mentored me and informally sponsored me in my career, opening doors for me that I never would have tried to open for myself.
I listened to this book on Audible, but you can’t read endnotes or track down studies with audio books. So I just purchased a hard copy from Amazon. The Kindle copy was much less expensive, but I suspect I’ll need to lend this one with frequency to my students, both male and female.