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

Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead - Sheryl Sandberg I found this to be an eye opening book. I think just about anyone, man or woman, would too. It's well researched, well written, succinct, and discusses many important issues: how successful men are perceived differently than successful women, the differences in self confidence between men and women, the need for more women in leadership positions and more men doing household tasks, and, perhaps most importantly, why we should all talk openly about these issues. I'm not a huge fan of the marketing style phrases ("sit at the table", "lean in"), but perhaps they make the message more sticky. I liked all the personal anecdotes that show Sandberg as a human being, vulnerable, imperfect, and learning many of the lessons in this book the hard way. Also, this book has a fair number of good lessons on leadership, career progress, and communication that go beyond gender relations.

Some good quotes from the book:

A truly equal world would be one where women run half our countries and companies and men ran half our homes.

While compliant, raise-your-hand-and-speak-when-called-on behaviors might be rewarded in school, they are less valid in the workplace. Career progression often depends upon taking risks and advocating for oneself--traits that girls are discouraged from exhibiting. This may explain why girls' academic achievements have not yet translated into significantly higher numbers of women in top jobs. The pipeline that supplies the educated workforce is chock full of women at the entry-level, but the time that same pipeline is filling leadership positions, it is overwhelmingly stocked with men.

Gymboree once sold onesies proclaiming "Smart like Daddy" for boys and "Pretty like Mommy" for girls. The same year, JC Penney marketed a T-shirt to teenage girls that bragged, "I'm too pretty to do homework so my brother has to do it for me." These things did not happen in 1951. They happened in 2011.

Many people, but especially women, feel fraudulent when they are praised for their accomplishments. Instead of feeling worthy of recognition, they feel undeserving and guilty, as if a mistake has been made. Despite being high achievers, even experts in their fields, women can't seem to shake the sense that it is only a matter of time until they're found out for who they really are--imposters with limited skills or abilities.

The real issue was not that I felt like a fraud, but that I could feel something deeply and profoundly and be completely wrong.

Success and likability are positively correlated for men and negatively correlated for women. When a man is successful, he's liked by both men and women. When a woman is successful, people of both genders like her less.

If you're offered a seat on a rocketship, you don't ask what seat. You just get on.

An internal report at Hewlett-Packard revealed that women only apply for open jobs if they think they meet 100% of the criteria listed. Men apply if they think they meet 60% of the requirements.

Anyone who brings up gender in the workplace is wading into deep and muddy waters. The subject itself presents a paradox, forcing us to acknowledge differences while trying to achieve the goal of being treated the same.

The laws that protect women and minorities and people with disabilities, among others, from discrimination are essential, and I'm not suggesting they be circumvented. But I've also witnessed firsthand how they can have a chilling effect on discourse, sometimes even to the detriment of the people they are designed to defend.

Currently, only 24% of women in the United States say that they consider themselves feminists. Yet when offered a more specific definition of feminism--"A feminist is someone who believes in social, political, and economic equality of the sexes "--the percentage of women who agree rises to 65%. That's a big move in the right direction.

In the future, there will be no female leaders. There will just be leaders.