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CityU Library Reviews “Lean in: Women, work, and the will to lead”
Review By Carolyne Begin, Librarian
In the year since its publication, Lean In, written by Sheryl Sandberg, has generated debate and increased the amount of attention on women in the corporate world.The book was on the Times best seller list for a number of weeks, becoming one of the most widely read feminist books. While its popularity shows a deficit in books for women written by women about their careers, it should also encourage a larger conversation on the topic.
There are many things that Sandberg does well in this book but there are also many flaws that take away from her message. It is impossible to ignore her privilege and what it has afforded her, and it is reasonable that not all issues about women can be addressed in one book. That being said, I find it important to take a look at the advice that she gives. Sandberg encourages women to use her technique of “leaning in” to master the corporate world largely dominated by men. This includes various aspects of work culture but the thing that stayed with me the most was to be less scared. Don’t be scared to “sit at the table” or promote yourself. Don’t be too scared to take a job because of what the future means as a woman and don’t be scared to ask for what you want. Most importantly, don’t be scared to support women in their careers (that goes for everyone). These lessons are important to learn for all women no matter their background, race, career choice, socioeconomic status, etc.
While I encourage both women AND men to change their behaviors with regard to gender, I can agree with Sandberg in the overall message she is trying to convey. This book’s greatest achievement is that it has started a conversation about women that was new to many.
While it has many flaws, the book addresses issues that pertain to women in business culture. If we acknowledge that the scope is narrow, we can see the benefits it may bring. While keeping this is mind, I encourage everyone to read Lean In and to be aware of the issues that women face in the corporate world. At CityU, I am proud to look around me and see many strong women in management roles. They are great role models for our students and for women in the workforce.
There are a variety of disciplines which might benefit from exploring the themes discussed in Lean In. For example:
School of Management:Due to Sandberg’s experience in the business world, this book is of interest to students in the School of Management. Not only does this book speak to being successful in the business world, but it also encourages women to aim high in whatever career they choose. Many of Sandberg’s anecdotes are business related, which make them easy to relate to for our students. Similarly, the Technology Institute students at CityU would benefit from the experience that Sandberg had working in the tech industry, including companies such as Google and Facebook. Her experience is not unlike that of other women, and our students could learn a great deal from her time at those companies. There are good lessons in management and communication in this book.
Leadership programs: Leadership is a key component of success. Being a good leader involves many aspects, and being aware of the challenges that employees face is one of them. Lean In focuses on Sandberg’s journey in leadership as a woman and a mother. As a student studying leadership, these aspects are important to be aware of. As a leader herself, Sandberg also demonstrates the ways in which she learned good leadership as well as some innovative leadership strategies that she employs.
Lean in: Women, work, and the will to lead. Sandberg, Sheryl. 2013. New York, NY: Random House. 228 pages (CityU Library HD 6054.3 .S265 2013 New Bookshelf). Check WorldCat.org to find a copy at the library closest to you.
Please note: Resources listed with [Login Required] are available to CityU students, faculty and staff, and may be available to other readers through their local libraries.
- Adams, S. (2013, March 4). 10 things Sheryl Sandberg gets exactly right in Lean In. Forbes. Retrieved from http://onforb.es/1h4nejR
- Ibarra, H., Ely, R., & Kolb, D. (2013). Women rising: The unseen barriers. Harvard Business Review, 91(9), 60-67. [Login Required]
- Lean In. (2014). Education. In Lean In. Retrieved from http://leanin.org/
- O’Brien, K., Biga, A., Kessler, S., & Allen, T. (2010). A meta-analytic investigation of gender differences in mentoring. Journal of Management, 36(2), 537-554.
- TED Talks. [TED]. (2010, Dec. 21). Sheryl Sandberg: Why we have too few women leaders. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=18uDutylDa4
Opposing Viewpoints Reviews
- Slaughter, A. (2013, March 7). Yes, you can: Sheryl Sandberg’s ‘Lean In’.New York Times. Retrieved from http://nyti.ms/1yt74c4
- Hooks, B. (2013, Oct. 28). Dig deep: Beyond Lean In. The Feminist Wire. Retrieved from http://thefeministwire.com/2013/10/17973/
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