Lean In….Shoots up…

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s new book Lean In: Women, Work, and Will to Lead is taking off, No surprise that it debuts at number one on the bestseller list. The whole issue of women in the workplace is getting major coverage, including Time and 60 Minutes. “Men still run the world,” she said there. “We’re stalled and we need to acknowledge that so we can change it.”

Only 4% of CEOs of Fortune 500 companies are women. Why is that?

Is it the choices we make? Discrimination in the workplace? Having children and caring for them?

Her primary message, that women do it to themselves and often turn down opportunities, “’I’m still learning on my current job’,” says Sandberg, “I’ve never heard a man say that. Her view is that women need to embrace their inner ambition, put your foot on the gas pedal and never let up. She herself was named ‘most likely to succeed’ in high school, but of course that’s not what she wanted. “Most likely to succeed does not get a date to the prom.”

There is, I’ve noticed, a huge dollop of political correctness to the coverage of Lean In. Women tend to analyze ourselves overmuch, blame ourselves, and each other, and the reporting is feeding into that frenzy. Most of the coverage is, naturally, by women so it was especially interesting to read thoughtful piece by Michael Winerip in Sunday’s NYT.

His conclusions, having been both the primary earner and the secondary earner and primary caretaker are interesting and a little different.

He agrees on the premise that “women are disadvantaged because of social pressures to be at home. Not said is that those very same social pressures weigh on men to be the primary breadwinners, a burden of similar scope.”

The other area he finds questionable is “the implication that a more parent-friendly attitude about the workplace will catapult women upward.” But in fact, he argues somewhat sensibly “I’ve seen very few people reach the top or even near the top while working full time at home.

“The workplace, I believe,” writes Winerip, “can be made more parent-friendly, but it’s not doing to be all that friendly, which is why they call it work.

“The core problem isn’t the workplace. It’s work.”

About Karen Ray

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