Good morning ladies! Today is a very special day for us all as it is International Women’s Day! One day every year we devote 24 hours to celebrating women and take time to acknowledge their accomplishments economically, politically, and socially, and recognize the respect, love and appreciation that every female deserves. Let’s not forget that although March 8th is the recognized day to celebrate women, we can’t be afraid to embrace women’s accomplishments for the other 364 days of the year. We all need to remember that although we have come a long way, there are still many things that can be further advanced to provide women even more opportunities.
In honour of this special day I am going to provide a review of a book I received as a gift from my brother for Christmas and recently finished. It is called Lean In and is written by Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook, and seemed very fitting for this day.
Sheryl Sandberg discusses women in the workplace and the will to become leaders. She strategically divides the book up into various sections, discussing a variety of lessons for women to learn while they change and grow in the workplace. I know what you are all thinking, another feminist trying to make others feel sorry for her and other women as they struggle to compete with men. This is not the case. In fact, it is the opposite. Sheryl states that she is not trying to have others feel sorry for women, but wants aspiring working women to understand that the ‘ball is in their court’ and they have the power to make their lives whatever they want it to be. Yes, easier said than done, but Sheryl provides tips and lessons based off of personal experiences she shares and hard facts she has gathered from a variety of studies on the topics of women and men in leadership roles and the workplace. She recognizes the barriers to success for women and gives insightful ideas into how we can combat them. Topics range from partner roles in a relationship, success and likeability, mentoring, and speaking the truth. Now, because I want you to actually read the book yourself, I am not going to delve into every detail Sheryl discusses but below have provided the lessons I have learned and can now apply into my own life.
- Speak up. Don’t sit back and let something happen if you don’t agree. If you have an idea, share it, because you never know where it might take you.
- Men and women can do anything in the workplace or at home. If men want to stay at home, it should be encouraged, but if women do, then go for it! Same goes for those who want to be a working partner.
- Don’t follow social and gender norms if they don’t fit for you; make your own rules. As stated above about partners in the home and in the workforce, do what makes sense for your personal situation. Perhaps more women would have the opportunity to rejoin the workforce after children and men to stay at home if society didn’t judge them for reversing the typical gender roles we think of often.
- No one can do it all. If we try, we aren’t being honest to ourselves and we set expectations that can’t always be achieved. Do what you can and don’t feel guilty if you can’t accomplish everything you initially convinced yourself you could.
- The double-bind of femininity exists. It is hard to balance work and home life but it is possible. Display that women can be good mothers yet successful women in the workforce too without losing out on one.
- Women need to encourage one another and not view each other as competition. If we constantly only see ourselves as the “Queen Bee” on top, other women will fear you and be discouraged from desiring the leadership roles we want more women to work hard to earn. We need to work together and not try to push each other down on our way to the top.
What I liked:
I enjoyed the fact that Sheryl included a combination of real life scenarios she experienced and studies to support her which is seen in her over 30 pages of notes at the end of the book. By incorporating her personal stories, as a reader, you could see how to apply concepts into your own life or also rethink and reflect on things you have already done. Lean In was an easy, light read that I didn’t want to put down because of the great topics of each chapter, but could be read as individual chapters if someone is short on time. The entire time I had the book in my hands, the wheels were turning, providing time for reflection on my own life and giving me some insight into future endeavours.
What I didn’t like:
Not that this book is perfect in every way but there is not one thing that I can put my finger on that I didn’t like. Perhaps my life doesn’t align with every idea within Lean In but Sheryl reminds you as a reader to apply what works for you from her book. So, after reading, I have taken some ideas and applied it to my own life, and for the ideas I didn’t completely see fit for me, I have gained a deeper understanding into why others make certain choices in their lives.
I recommend this book to women and men simply because we can all gain a better understanding of women’s struggles to become leaders, balance work and home life, but also recognize that each individual in society has a role in helping women achieve their goals.
As I leave you to reflect on your own lives this week and maybe pick up a copy of Lean In, I will let Sheryl have the final words. “"A truly equal world would be one where women ran half our countries and companies and men ran half our homes."
Be fierce. Be strong. Be vibrant.