[Book Review] Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg

9780385349949One of the reading challenges in Reading Bingo is to read ‘a book that will help with your career’. Enter Sheryl Sandberg’s fantastic book, Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Leada book that is in high demand in the RHC offices. I was on a waiting list of two people to get my hands on a copy, until I begged Sheryl’s publicist for a copy.

Why the buzz? Let me give you some of Sheryl Sandberg’s credentials:

  • She was listed on 2011’s Forbes 100 Most Powerful Women
  • She’s the COO of Facebook and works very closely with Mark Zuckerberg
  • She recently gave a TED talk that led to the creation of this book, encouraging women to lean in to conversations in the workplace and to work towards leading conversations as opposed to just participating in them.

First things first, Sheryl doesn’t deny that women have achieved great strides in equality, but in the corporate world, the numbers and the facts prove otherwise. She quotes,

Of 197 heads of state, only 22 are women. Women hold just 20 percent of seats in parliaments globally. In the United States, where we pride ourselves on liberty and justice for all, the gender division of leadership roles is not much better. Women became 50 percent of the college graduates in the United States in the early 1980’s. Since then, women have slowly and steadily advanced, earing more and more of the college degrees, taking more of the entry-level jobs, and entereing more fields previously dominated by men. Despite these gains, the percentage of women at the top of corporate America has barely budged over the past decade. A meagre twenty-one of the Fortune 500 CEOs are women. Women hold about 14 percent of executive officer positions, 16 percent of board seats, and constitute just 18 percent of our elected congressional officials. While women continue to outpace men in educational achievement, we have ceased making real progress at the top of any industry.

Aren’t these statistics and facts shocking to you? As a young professional woman, I thought that women as a whole were making huge strides in becoming CEOs, COOs and presidents of corporations, but boy was I wrong! It’s hard to believe that only 21% of Fortune 500 CEOs are women. How does that happen? Why is this happening? Well the answer to all these questions are in Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In.

What she sets out to do in this fantastic book is help create change. Change in the way women think, change in the way women perceive themselves and change in women’s mentality about their capabilities in the workplace. Her teachings and guidance don’t come with any calculations or a tricky formula; it’s actually quite simple, lean in! Make sure you’re in conversations, create a voice and most importantly keep your hand raised! I have to share another quote at this point in the review, because of the inspiration I felt after reading this speech that Sheryl wrote and read to a class of graduates.

You are the promise for a more equal world. So my hope for everyone here is that after you walk across this stage, after you get your diploma, after you go out tonight and celebrate- you then will lean way in to your career. You will find something you love doing and you will do it with gusto. Find the right career for you and go all the way to the top.

As you walk off this stage today, you start your adult life. Start out aiming high. Try-and try hard.

Life everyone here, I have great hopes for the members of this graduating class. I hope you find true meaning, contentment, and passion in your life. I hope you navigate the difficult times and come out with greater strength and resolve. I hope you find whatever balance you see with your eyes wide open. And I hope that you -yes you- have the ambition to lean in to your career and run the world. Because the world needs you to change it. Women all around the world are counting on you.

So please ask yourself: What would I do if I weren’t afraid? And then go do it.

This is a book that has forever changed the way I approach my career. I’ve never read something so powerful, something so profound and something that I knew that I’ll refer to in years to come. I encourage you to pick this one up if you’re interested in expanding your career. I’m going to leave you with Sheryl Sandberg’s TED talk that inspired the creation of this book!

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