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Author of the book Lean In is Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer at Facebook and a former vice president at Google. In August, 2011, she was ranked by Forbes as the fifth most powerful woman in the world. Yet, this happily married, mother of two says “I still face situations that I fear are beyond my capabilities, but I know how to take a deep breath and keep my hand up. I have learned to sit at the table.”
That’s what she advises women to do in this book which she calls a “sort of feminist manifesto.” She makes a case for leaning in, for being ambitious in any pursuit. “Don’t stand back,” she admonishes, “lean in, go for it, keep your hand up, sit at the table. Take risks, choose growth, challenge yourself, and ask for a promotion (with a smile on your face, of course). Don’t wait for power to be offered , take it!”
First and foremost, according to Sandberg, “women are hindered by the barriers that exist within themselves.” We women, she says, have been influenced by gender stereotypes, introduced in childhood and reinforced throughout our lives. Therefore, we internalize negative messages such as it’s wrong for women to be outspoken and aggressive. Being firm and strong violates unwritten rules about acceptable social conduct. Instead be “pretty like Mommy and smart like Daddy.”
THE MYTH OF DOING IT ALL
Sandberg knows that women can’t do it all, although she has tried. At Google, she would lock her door and use a breast pump during conference calls.
She quotes Gloria Steinem who said it best: “You can’t do it all. No one can have two full time jobs , have perfect children, cook three meals a day, and be multi-orgasmic ‘til dawn.”
CHOOSING A HUSBAND
Sandberg says that husband “Dave and I have had our share of the bumps on our path to achieving a roughly fifty-fifty split, but I do have a husband who is a real partner.” She advises that “if you want a fifty-fifty partnership, establish that pattern at the onset.” That partnership will model behavior for the next generation.
Those men do exist. My Bob (Stapleton) took personal pride in my accomplishments, encouraged me 100 percent, and sometimes put on a pot of beans when we needed something to eat. It all started after I had spent all night stuffing envelopes on a mailing for a woman candidate. Next morning, at the breakfast table, Bob said “Sweet baby, if you’re going to spend your life in other people’s campaigns, you might as well run yourself.” With his support, I did run, and won a seat in the Oklahoma House of Representatives, where I stayed for ten years.
My Bob has been gone two years, and life is tough without him.
In conclusion, I leave you with this thought which, in my mind, summarizes the content of Sheryl Sandberg’s book: A man of quality is not threatened by a woman of equality.
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