“The blunt truth is that men still run the world.” A baker’s dozen years into the 21st century, despite all the strides women have made toward equality (and despite being half the population), the female gender remains starkly underrepresented in leadership roles. Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In is a rallying cry for both genders to continue the hard work of previous generations toward a more equitable division of voice, power and leadership.
Currently the chief operating officer at Facebook, Sandberg also had a high-intensity position at Google when her first child was born, and she fully recognizes the hurdles involved, and the balancing act required, when a woman has a career and a family. After a brief three months “off,” she recalls the heartache of separating from her newborn: “I was returning to a job I loved, but as I pulled the car out of the driveway to head to the office for my first full day back, I felt tightness in my chest and tears started to flow down my cheeks.” But she heralds both Google and Facebook as progressive, flexible companies, and believes that other industries, seeing the success of these family-friendly models, are following suit. Improvements in technology that allow work to be done from anywhere with an Internet connection are also changing the way companies think about office hours and working from home.
Men’s roles are evolving, too, which Sandberg celebrates. “A truly equal world would be one where women ran half our countries and companies and men ran half our homes. I believe that this would be a better world,” she writes. She admits that a perfect 50/50 division of labor at home is not an easy accomplishment, but she unabashedly credits her husband’s willingness to be an equal partner as they tackle life and career challenges together as being essential to her peace of mind and success.
Told with candor and filled with a mix of anecdote and annotated fact, Lean In inspires women to find their passion, pursue it with gusto and “lean in” to leadership roles in the workplace and the world. “Women should be able to pursue professional success and personal fulfillment—and freely choose one, or the other, or both,” she says. And with chapters such as “The Myth of Doing It All,” “Seek and Speak Your Truth” and “Make Your Partner a Real Partner,” she lays out a practical, tangible (but flexible!) framework for making that possible.