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

Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead - Sheryl Sandberg 2.5 stars to be more precise. Sandberg is far more likeable than I expected and I appreciated her self-deprecating sense of humour, honesty about her insecurities and enthusiasm for supporting other women. I nodded along quite a bit when she talked about crying at work (been there, done that) and was happy to see her dismantle the guilt-trip fallacy that is "women having it all". Sadly, Lean In is corporate feminism with an extremely narrow focus that excludes most women. Corporate feminism is the idea that if we put enough women in CEO positions then that'll trickle down to the rest of the gender. Sadly, it just doesn't work that way. Sandberg is at least self-aware enough to acknowledge how privileged she is but that still blinds her a little. Her focus is narrow & ignores costs of education, childcare, women in part-time work, lack of mentors, sexual harassment in the workplace, the exclusion of women of colour from business and discrimination in the workplace, etc. Some of these issues are briefly touched upon, and I emphasise "briefly" a lot there, but it's just not enough. For example, Sandberg talks about finding good mentors because studies have proven how effective they are in maintaining morale, seeking promotion and so on, but no solid solutions are provided. I don't expect Sandberg to do so because that's tough enough for any one person to do, but it's disappointing to see this book going on the right track then suddenly swerve off course.It's clear that Sandberg understands, or is at least aware of racial issues in the corporate machine and the huge disparities in race and gender present in CEO and COO positions. Her frequent use of footnotes backs that up. That's what makes it all the more aggravating when she just doesn't go into these issues further. She makes a lot of sensible points, particularly the issue of internalised patriarchy and how women are more prone to doubting their abilities than men, but once again, the solutions are few and far between. I wish it was as easy as just bucking up and demanding my seat at the table but the numbers aren't in my favour. I'm not COO of Facebook, nor did I go to Harvard Business School and get mentored by Larry Summers. Sandberg acknowledges her privilege but doesn't seem to understand that not all women can lean in because we're leaning on too many other women to help us deal with the load. She praises Marissa Mayer, who became CEO of Yahoo whilst heavily pregnant then built a daycare centre for her son in her office, and declares that we must band together and support other women instead of criticising them like Mayer was. She does this will conveniently omitting Mayer's decision to ban working from home and demanding everyone come into the office to work. These women weren't given the option of personal daycare like Mayer allotted for herself, and remember the USA is the only country in the developed world without fully paid maternity leave. Childcare costs, one of the big barriers to women remaining in the workplace, was totally ignored in favour of the "sisterhood" argument to support Mayer. Feminism doesn't need to suck up to women in power; it needs to hold them accountable and make sure we all get a fair shake. The book isn't bad, it just feels like an extended TED Talk, which it essentially is. It's a disjointed but readable mish-mash of memoir, feminist tract and business guide, and there are admirable points in there. I just can't support a fallacy that claims if we support the women at the top then soon we'll all benefit. Real life doesn't work that way.EDIT: Downgrading my rating because I don't like hypocrites.http://valleywag.gawker.com/revealed-sheryl-sandbergs-unpaid-intern-shame-1140422267Lean in, Sheryl! Right on top of all those unpaid interns who must come from privileged families in order to be able to afford such an opportunity. Because it’s not as if women of lower classes are shut out of positions like this based on their social standing. This is why corporate trickle down Lean In feminism is a con. Unfortunately, most of us can’t lean in because we’re not even allowed to sit at the table.