"Lean In" may have started as a snowball in a storm of strong women coming forward to announce women's lack of presence in the work force; but it became an avalanche across the nation. This viral book touches on (at times) some truly ground breaking concepts, and at other times - understated concepts. Taking the conventional roles and questioning our imprinted beliefs, we are able to view changes from a 1000ft perspective and then with stories from Sheryl herself, we see the up close and personal view of those changes in women’ gender roles and the subconscious stereotype that upholds that role. Here is a rough summary of the chapters:
Chapter 1 discusses Sheryl’s upbringing and the unusual value of education that was precedent in her life, pushing her to gain educational degree. From here she begins to notice the changes that take place over her career and the drop of women in higher level positions. Sheryl sees this decline become evident due to the decision women face (a truly fearful decision) between being the “best” mother, wife, leader, employee. This fear of the decision creates a chasm between women who step up to get the promotions and the women falling back, to create an exit for their ultimate retreat into motherhood.
Chapter 2 hits hard on the “the imposter syndrome” women hold as truth and many men enforce. The idea that a woman's worth is based on actions and a man's worth is based on potential actions, and that a woman’s success is not from innate skill but circumstantial and/or environmentally driven.
Chapter 3 revolves around the pleasing women feel they must do. The ever revolving door of trying to please everyone and pleasing no one, ending only to become detrimental in your forward progress as a career professional.
Chapter 4 is about taking the challenge by the horns. "You don’t ask what seat you will get on the rocket ship, you just get on the rocket ship." The concept of accepting the big jobs, the hard challenges, the promotion and attempting the impossible needs to be encouraged for women to pursue the challenges and come out of the fire bigger, better, stronger. As a gender who cringes at mistakes and gasps at failure, that leap of faith and self confidence is the one thing that keeps your passion for work alive and strong.
Chapter 5 highlights the importance of a mentor. Sherly strongly believes in women investing time to be mentored and to be a mentor to others. But finding a mentor can be a challenge. It is especially important for this not to be the only thing that women hone in on. Sheryl states you must not ask directly for a mentor, but seek out similarities and women you admire, ask for advice on topics that trouble you. Find a way to engage with someone beyond the typical and rather dull mentor search.
Chapter 6 speaks about the fine line between professional and personal life balance. In ways that are truthful and to the point, say what you mean. What may seem unprofessional and a vulnerability, may in fact be what the other professionals around you needed to hear for the work to be accomplished.
Chapter 7 is all about the expected reality compared to the actual reality. Sheryl discusses career stagnation in the face of potential decisions. "Don’t make decisions before the decision needs to be made." As the saying goes “We will cross that bridge when we get to it”. In making preemptive choices about our careers in regards to having children (etc.) we forgo the ability to consider other possibilities down the line when we actually do have the children. This is where the lean in action is best demonstrated. Sit at the table, get the promotion, follow your dreams.
Chapter 8 has everything to do with the life partner, the tribe, the family you can reach out to and share the burden of being the perfect wife, mother, daughter, sister, aunt, etc. When the chores and the responsibility is evenly distributed, it creates an equal partnership and allows you the space to be the hero you want to be. Your network is so extremely important!
Chapter 9 talks about the hero complex. The concept that women must be superhuman and do it all. She talks to the relief it will be when we realize that’s a myth, not a fact. In this chapter, Sheryl refers to her husband* as a very involved dad, but not her as a very involved mom. The comparison she feels as a working mom and vice versa for a stay at home mom. We all face those insecurities that we are not enough. But the truth is, we aren’t and will never be and that’s OKAY!
Chapter 10 and Chapter 11 emphasize that this is not a war of the genders. Rather there is a need for a collaboration between the genders for equality. But the thing to do, after we have acknowledged the bias, is to talk about it. Open up about it and make it heard. Most people don’t even realize these concepts are reality in their life, their office, their home. Creating an environment for a conversation about it can begin the revolution women desperately need.
We hope you enjoyed the book and we invite you to join in the discussion LIVE tomorrow on our facebook page. Here are the questions to be discussed:
1. Gender and leadership. In what ways are women and girls dissuaded from pursuing their goals and becoming leaders? In what ways are men and boys encouraged to pursue their goals and become leaders? Have you ever been described by others as “being ambitious”? Was this said as a positive or negative comment? Have you ever been referred to as “bossy”? How did it make you feel?
2. Sitting at the table. Where do you usually sit in a classroom or conference room—in the middle of the action? On the sidelines? Are you nervous about drawing attention to yourself?
3. Gender discount problem. Do you get asked to do more favors than colleagues of the opposite gender? Do you feel those additional efforts are compensated and/or appreciated?
4. Your definition of success. How do you define success? What are your goals and what are you doing to achieve them?
5. Division of household responsibilities. Do you expect your partner to split household tasks fifty-fifty? What about child care? Why or why not?
6. Setting boundaries. What boundaries have you set for yourself? How much control do you feel you have over your schedule?
7. Awareness. Do you notice how many men or women are in a meeting or class? Do you notice when someone remains silent or is interrupted when he or she tries to speak? Have you ever observed a woman making a suggestion that was ignored until it was repeated by a man? Did you say anything to the group or the person who repeated the idea?
8. Supporting one another. What can men do to help create more equal workplaces and families? What can women do to help create more equal workplaces and families?
Date & Time: August 31, 2016 @ 7 PM CST
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