What would you do if you weren’t afraid? This is Sheryl Sandberg’s favorite quote that she uses several times throughout her book, “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead.” In fact, Sandberg states that writing the book was what she would have done if she weren’t afraid, so she decided to write it.
Sandberg’s book has made me grateful for the opportunity to attend an all-women’s college. In her book, Sandberg discusses how women who graduate from college are often unprepared for the inequality between men and women that still exists in the workforce today. Attending an all-women’s college prepares me for life after I graduate because St. Kate’s helps me to feel confident in myself as a woman.
As women, we often assume that it is the external barriers created by society that hold us back from putting forth our best potential. One external barrier is not enough workplaces offering flexibility and access to childcare and parental leave that are necessary for pursuing a career while raising children. However, we also create our own internal barriers.
“In addition to external barriers erected by society, women are hindered by barriers that exist within us. We hold ourselves back in ways both big and small, by lacking self-confidence, by not raising our hands, and by pulling back when we should be leaning in,” Sandberg wrote. “We internalize the negative messages we get throughout our lives—the messages that say it’s wrong to be outspoken, aggressive, and more powerful than men.”
“Lean In” magnifies the problem that is often overlooked in our world today. Women subconsciously take what they have learned throughout their lives and let it negatively affect how they perform in everyday work situations. Sandberg’s work discusses instances that happen often and that we tend to overlook.
For example, when listening to speakers, men tend to hold their hands up longer than women do after the speaker has finished taking questions. Sandberg also talks about a Senior Government Official discussion that Facebook held in which most of the male senior executives sat at the center table, but a few women sat at the side of the room not participating in the discussion. In her book, Sandberg discusses the importance of having women sit at the table.
In “Lean In,” Sandberg does not use her book as an opportunity to criticize women for what they are doing wrong, but rather to offer them advice for both their personal and professional lives. She relies on data and studies that have been conducted on both men and women and also relies on her past experiences and mistakes.
“Lean In” is an eye-opening book that focuses on how equality between men and women is still not yet equal today and explains how we can help change that problem by first bettering ourselves. Sandberg’s work discusses how women do not give themselves enough credit and too often drop out of the workforce.
Sandberg stresses the importance of recognizing one’s achievements and not being ashamed of them or fears that talking about them will do more harm than good. For example, Sandberg discusses how in a job interview, men talk about their past achievements while women say that they got to where they are because of luck and good connections. Women often do not discuss past achievements for fear that they will come off as overconfident.
This book is highly recommended for women and college students who are interested in increasing their self-confidence and learning how to lean in and take risks outside of their comfort zones. If you are interested in reading “Lean In” by Sheryl Sandberg, this book can be checked out at the St. Kate’s Library.