Review: Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead

Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead
Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I found this book helpful to me not just for the feminist reasons but for some good career advice. I wouldn’t say it is “THE” book, but it definitely has some good examples and suggestions that could be helpful for most women, elite or not. Apart from being competent, this book explains how there are so many other factors that are important to advance one’s career. I could relate to many of the thought-processes that Ms. Sandberg mentioned and see how that particular way of thinking could hamper your growth. It also brings out a very good point that if leaning in helps women in their career, then leaning in towards family helps men equally.

However, I would have loved to have more insight on how the successful women described in this book, launched their careers right after college, because many a times there was a disconnect between college and landing that “career-launcher”. And I felt some of the themes were being dragged on and on and it felt overwhelming.

Overall, I liked this book for good advice, simple writing, supporting facts and sparking a global discussion on a topic that deserved attention and action. I think it was about time. Kudos to Ms Sandberg.

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Venturing into Feminism

I have always felt very strongly for anything labelled as ‘women-issues’. I have many a times proudly claimed myself as a feminist. But not until recently have I found myself guilty of being stuck in so many gender-stereotypes that it was almost a revelation! Some of these stereotypes are so subtle, that it amazed me how did they manage to creep in and become a part of my thinking. And I think this is true for many women.

Have you hoped to find a man who is better than you in many many ways including intellectual and financial? It is natural for a person to want better things in life including a life-partner. But how many men really desire a life-partner who earns more than they do, who is intellectually superior than themselves? And yet, women would be wanting it and it is somewhat considered to be the right thing to want or desire. It is absolutely normal and kind of expected of a woman to project herself as the ‘supporting-role’ financially in the household.

Now assuming a different direction, we would have read numerous YA and fiction novels where the female protagonist is portrayed as a damsel in distress/shy/clumsy/lacking confidence and the absolutely good-looking guy would fall for her. But he would be very protective or controlling of her, say mean things to her (because apparently he is confused in his head that he probably loves her!), in some cases ‘do’ mean things to her, hurt her, threaten her, torment her, be jealous or be over-protective to the extent of stalking her and still she would stand by him and think of him as her prince charming. And accept it or not, we find it romantic and we fall for the whole good-looking prince charming crap who is almost a male-chauvinist in disguise! We fail to see that in all these situations in fiction, female character is shown as submissive, fragile ¬†and a person lacking in self-worth and we are deluded into thinking that this is normal and expected. ¬†Would we like the novel if the characters were reversed? If the male character was all clumsy and the female was the strong controlling one? We would think of the male character as a loser and a sissy and the female to be a bi***! If such a portrayal of a man is not acceptable, how does it become an acceptable portrayal of a woman?

These are just a couple of examples from the many. We function on many such stereotypes without even realizing them. It is ingrained in our system and almost indistinguishable. They might not hurt us in an apparent way, but they do hinder us in ways we do not realize. It is about time to recognize and free ourselves from the cobwebs of stereotypical thinking.

[I do not have answers and solutions to the questions that have arose in my mind. I will continue to explore and share my thoughts as I educate myself in feminism and women-issues.]