In recent days a buzz has arisen over a new book by Sheryl Sandberg, Cheif Operating Officer of Facebook, entitled “Lean In”. I haven’t read the book, yet, but all the discussions have worked the PR magic because I plan to pick it up as soon as I can find the time between school car circle, work, grocery shopping, work, feeding the dogs and oh yeah the children, work and all the things that make up the life of a single working mom.
On the Today Show, their discussion of the book and it’s concept included Matt Laur, Dr. Nancy Snyderman, Star Jones, and Suzie Orton. I gathered the concept of the book is that Sandberg outlines and details how she rose to the top as a woman in a still male dominated corporate world. What’s drawing criticism, and praise, is her advice to women to stand their ground, lean in, and be aggressive if that’s what it takes to succeed. And she seems to be of the opinion by the way that aggressive is what we working women should be.
During the Today Show round table, Dr. Snyderman recounted how a 24 year old woman, Ivy league school graduate, very successful professional, called her recently in tears because a male co-worker told her she was “too aggressive”. Dr. Snyderman told the woman to tell that co-worker to….well I can’t exactly say, but it equaled having some solo fun wink wink. And then she told her to lean in. When I heard this I wondered how often do men in the workplace get told they are too aggressive? In my experience, I’ve been told that a lot. By men and women alike in the workplace. I’ve also experienced male co-workers, managers, etc. who were identified as aggressive and told that was okay, and at times they were praised for that aggressiveness because they “got things done”. Double standard?
I came across another blog that is a good rundown of both sides of the opinions being tossed around about “Lean In”. I couldn’t help but notice that among the negative comments, there were more than a few that criticise Sandberg for having pedicured toes, or wearing Prada shoes, and that the average working woman can’t relate. Can’t relate? Are you kidding me? I jump at the chance to get a pedicure when I can, and when I passed the Prada Outlet in Orlando last summer my heart raced. I remember reading a story about Barbara Walters early in her career. The news business was completely a man’s world then, and at press conferences the male reporters would crowd her out. Or at least they did until she figured out a stilleto heel piercing the top of a man’s shoe cleared a path quickly.
I can’t say how I feel about the book one way or the other. But I can say that as a working woman, I regularly ecounter the “Boy’s Clubs”, “glass ceilings”, and “double standards”. If anyone can shed some light on how to conquer that or even make it easier to deal with day in and day out, I’m willing to give them a listen, or a read. Below is a link for the rundown.