While I haven’t read Sheryl Sandberg’s (Facebook COO) Lean In, over the past few days I’ve read some blog posts, watched some Lean In videos, and explored Sandberg’s concepts of women taking a stand in the workplace.
It’s overwhelming to listen to Sheryl speak. It hits you in a place that you didn’t know was sensitive to begin with. She gives you some facts that are undeniable…
“Since the 1970’s, women have made more and more progress, except at the top. We’re held back by lots of things. We’re held back by sexism and discrimination and terrible public policy. But we’re also held back by stereotypes. Go to a playground this weekend and you’ll hear little girls get called ‘bossy’. You won’t hear little boys get called bossy because men are supposed to be assertive and lead. Rather than call our little girls bossy, we should say: ‘My daughter has executive leadership skills’.”
All of these things are true, the more ambitious a woman is – the more she is disliked by those around her. We as women make a choice to have a family and we strongly believe that by doing that, we have to change who we are professionally. Sheryl also goes on to talk about how choosing a partner who is supportive is imperative in your professional life.
I’ve thought about all of these things over the past few years. Being liked, being judged, being stifled, being successful, being a wife, being a mother – all of these things impact how I view my professional path – and to be honest it changes almost on a daily basis. Since I was a little girl I dreamed of being successful, and as I got older those dreams have remained, but the nightmares of failing begin to takeover and you become more careful, more complacent. Listening to and absorbing Lean In over the past few days, it really caused me to reflect on how I’m choosing to deal with my career path. While I work in an environment that supports and empowers the women who contribute to the workplace, there are few agency CEO’s that are of the female persuasion.
Working in corporate environments, you see the lack of female leadership in the workplace. Executive roundtables are made up of at least 80%-90% men. The women who sit in those executive seats are always disliked or treated differently than their male counterparts, and it’s not fair. As a woman in todays workplace, you start to think that this is okay that we don’t have those positions, that we don’t show our ambitions – and that is not okay.
All of this to say that Lean In is an excellent resource for women, one that I will constantly use to remind myself of what I deserve as a professional, not just as woman. We as women (and men, too) need to work together to support each other and create leadership roles for women because as Sheryl says:
“The blunt truth is that men run the world, and I’m not too sure that’s going too well”
I highly suggest you all watch this video (it’s worth the 57 minutes of your life):