Sunday, September 15, 2013

Leaning In . . . or Thinking About It

If a friend hadn't pressed Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In on me, hadn't insisted on lending me her copy, I wouldn't have read the book. There's just so much else to read, after all, and I had a vaguely negative impression of this title based on. . . what? Sandberg's privilege, I suppose, her (supposed) dismissal of the domestic, her (perceived) disregard of children's needs, her resurrection of the superwoman syndrome. I'd skimmed a number of reviews that critiqued her on this basis, and I expressed my skepticism to my friend, who is also a colleague. But S. and I often complain about our work pushing the rest of our lives aside, and she summed up part of Sandberg's argument as suggesting that "leaning in" included accepting "good enough" in both our professional and personal lives. Far from demanding we be Superwomen, my friend said, Sandberg was exhorting us to keep "leaning in," shortcomings and all. Okay, I said, I'd spend some time with the book and see what I thought.

In fact, Sandberg anticipates most of the objections that get raised against her, carefully setting out provisos in her introduction.  And I couldn't help but get caught up in the energy of her argument, one which has long been close to my heart -- we all need to lean in, however we can, to help get more women contributing their talents and energies to every workplace, to every arena in which the important decisions governing our politics, our markets, our social interactions, are made. I can't help feel gratified and encouraged, after years and years of hearing young women rejecting the "feminist" label as not only too strident but also outdated, no longer necessary. That a woman who can exercise Sandberg's level of power is willing to say that she has seen the barriers that hold women back. . . . this is powerful stuff. 

BUT while I was gratified, even excited, by her argument, nodding my head in agreement at what committed women, leaning in, might be able to change in the corporate and the political world, just for a start, I found myself feeling defensive, introspective, and retrospective. To be fair, Sandberg's writing was only a trigger for a longstanding sense of having fallen short of what I might have achieved. But her book stirred up all those inner voices that wondered why I hadn't achieved a career trajectory closer to my husband's. Why, despite having been a self-declared feminist from my late teens, early 20's, had I not found a glass ceiling to bump my head against and, perhaps eventually, through? Why had I not, in short, worked outside the home again, once we began having children, until I was almost 50? Why, finally, had I leaned away from the table instead of leaning in?

It's going to take me a few posts, I think, to resolve the questions Sandberg's book has stirred up in me while being fair to what she says. Right at the beginning, I'd like to underline that the self-accusations I made at the outset are just that: they come from me; I project them onto the backdrop of her argument.Sandberg invites women to lean in to the table, but by the time I finished reading her book -- and I hope you'll see this too, by the time I finish writing about it -- it's clear that there's room to envision different tables, different ways of leaning in. As well, as I move through the book and through my responses to it, I can alternately see myself as one of the women exhorted to lean in and as one of many who might feel excluded by it. It's easy to read Sandberg as speaking to other sleek, well-groomed, sharply dressed, confident-looking women, ten to thirty years younger than I. It's also easy to ascribe a collection of personality traits and career aspirations to those women and to wonder if my own contributions to Sandberg's proposed feminist project are being solicited at all. By the end of her book, I'm going to answer yes to these questions, with my own provisos, and I'm going to recommend the book to others, particularly to young women, including my daughters.

Meanwhile, though, I'd like to unspool my own career trajectory for you after spending considerable time over the past few weeks thinking, yet again, about how I got here from there. But let's leave that for another post. . . While I'm getting that one written, I'd love to know if you've read Lean In or even just read/heard some of the buzz around it. Pondside has already offered some thoughts about it in comments on an earlier post. I'm curious to know if/what anyone else thinks about the discussion Sandberg's started.

  

43 comments:

  1. I bought the book today after being reminded by your post. I don't want to read yet at the same time I do. I have for many years ignored the signs, held responsibility for all my own actions, decisions and shortfalls. Then in the last 2 years I looked up and around. There are so few women in senior roles in the industry that I am in and those of us that are there are labelled. Those of last standing face significant challenges. I nearly left it behind to find an easier path. But now I am facing in and beginning to get ready for the next phase. I will let you know what I think of the book. If nothing else it is a powerful voice that gets us talking and thinking.Assessments

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    1. I'll be curious to know what you think, but I would caution that you should take care of yourself as you read, and remember that the "should haves, could haves" that arise during the process don't always take into account the realities of the past. Nor of our individual abilities, preferences, values. But I think you are right to emphasize that this is still an issue worth talking about.

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  2. I have some of the same reservations as you may. Although a feminist mother and wife in my twenties, I had no desire to be on a "career path". I really enjoyed being a mum and sharing my days with my daughter. When I did work outside the home, it was part-time in a public library with the understanding that I would give up shifts for field trips, sports day and some business travel with my then husband. Being a mum and wife was my career and I took it very seriously. There are indeed different tables into which we can lean. I still did continuing studies courses and completed a BA and teaching diploma part-time. I have visited the Lean In webpage and I am not sure about whether I will read the book. It is easy to make those self accusations of falling short of my potential. My brother is a city solicitor and my husband was a library director at 35. They did not make the same choices as I did. It was a different time but I don't think that I would have made different choices.

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    1. I agree that it's far too easy to make those self-accusations -- I wonder if Sandenberg was aware of that possibility or if it simply isn't part of her landscape. I wouldn't have read the book, myself, based on these hesitations, but it's been good to think through, especially as my daughters are now in the juggling phase. . . .

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  3. I achieved what I did because I was essentially booted from my nest. I'd have had another baby and stayed home in a heartbeat. Would it have been a better outcome, staying home? Giving in the to the siren call of motherhood? Who knows? I haven't wanted to read the Sandberg book because I didn't like her dress in her TED talk. True story. And maybe because I too feel I could have done better.

    But aren't some of us congenitially prone to that opinion?

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    1. Depends how we define "better outcome" and for whom, right? I'm wanting to keep that definition open so that my daughters can feel comfortable with their choices -- and I'm happy they have more choice, but unhappy that there's still not enough support for them.

      And absolutely, raising my hand as one congenitally prone, happy to be in the sisterhood. . . ;-)

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  4. I am tired and tetchy, my gut reaction to her book was 'oh f*** off'. I felt hectored and lectured at not 'doing my bit'. Letting the side down. That's my projecting onto her text, of course. I have a PhD. I am a failure in life according to a Sandberg standard of measurement, i didn't just not lean in, I packed up my trunk and metaphorically moved to a small island somewhere in the remotest north Atlantic. Or deepest Herefordshire. Same degree of career oblivion. I have had nearly 30 years of terrible mental health since early teens on account of childhood abuse. I consider myself doing well to still be here and managing to bring up my precious children without departing to long-stay in the looney bin, well only once, briefly, for a bout of post partum psychosis. I am a feminist and I have daughters but currently I struggle to live, and live well, so the rest of the sisterhood will have to do without me. Incidentally, why are men who drop out of the career ladder scramble not harangued for letting the 'brotherhood''s side down? Hmmm? Why is it that because I am an educated female it is suddenly beholden of me to run a multinational? Maybe I don't want to. Actually, I really don't want to. The gendering of the scope and scale of ambition - are women being coerced into a male model of success that we may not need or want? What might a holistic female ambition genotype resemble? If natural extended breastfeeding and deep attachment to rearing one's young oneself, not outsourcing to battery farms, was greeted by barely a batted eyelid, just the norm, or one of a scatter of normal variants? Rambling and grumpy,
    Lettys

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    1. Ah,no. You're wonderful in your honesty! Much of this what what I felt I had to work through as well, only because a colleague insisted I read the book. And you've raised excellent points. So hoping I can rise to the task of responding to Sandberg and do justice to these reader comments

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  5. I won't read it because as some of the commentators have already stated, I object to the idea that my putting child raising first at the expense of higher career aspirations is somehow indicative of not measuring up to my full potential. I pursued the path I wanted to pursue and now there are two fine, educated adult human beings productively engaged in the economy. They are positioned to achieve great things, both in their careers and in their personal lives. To me, that is an achievement that matters far more than whatever I accomplished during my career years.

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    1. Susan, if you read the book you would find that Sandberg credits her mother for "leaning in" as a "devoted mother and volunteer" during Sandberg's childhood and lauded her for leaving the workforce ten years ago to take care of her ailing parents. As she says, "My mother has leaned in her entire life. She raised her children, helped her parents spend their final years in dignity and comfort, and continues to be a dedicated and loving wife, mother, and grandmother." It's surprising that the presentation of what the book says makes so many of us defensive about having followed a similar trajectory.

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    2. back to worry that I might seem to suggest here that you Should read the book. I don't mean that at all, but I am curious about the gap between what the book says and what it's come to stand for. . . .

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    3. That's good to know. Not sure whether I will read the book though, but I am interested in what you have to say about it.

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  6. I'd not heard of the book before you mentioned it, and I'm reluctant to read it because of the critiques and comments here. But as you've mentioned, leaning in can look different for different women. My English teacher daughter, mother of a one-year-old is struggling with finding her place just now. She is perfectly content and happy at home, and is not planning to return to teaching until Sadie is in kindergarten. But societal and cultural pressures (most of her friends have returned to work at least part time) weigh on her mind. Our other granddaughter's mother did return to work after mat leave and I witness her anguish, her juggling of time and priorities and am angered by a culture that tells women they can have it all, all at once. It's just not so.

    In addition, I'm waging my own little feminist battle. I am so tired of churches that tell women what their place in life is. Equality is preached but not practiced. As a woman of faith, I am quietly, but firmly saying my piece, pushing a little, and hoping that my daughters and granddaughters will be free and welcome to use their gifts of leadership within the context of organized religion.

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    1. You're so thoughtful. And you're oriented, as I am, to thinking about what's best for our daughters. I also think of my son and his wife, and of my sons-in-law. I don't think anyone, male or female, gets to "have it all," but I think we could all work harder to make sure that more of us get a chance to have children, if we want them, AND a career, should we want that. We need to put our heads together to make children a shared social responsibility rather than charging primarily women with the task. And we could simplify what it means to raise children well, doing away with much of the extraneous demands (ballet, swimming, creative and elaborate birthday parties, memorable Halloween costumes, etc.)
      Oh, and churches. Catholic for so long, and perhaps always in some integral part of me, gender issues loom large. . . Sounds as if you are leaning in where it really matters to you, for your daughters and granddaughters.

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  7. I have read it and I did achieve in a man's world and crack the glass ceiling. I don't think there is any doubt that the main reason that I did this was that my first marriage broke down when my children were very young and I needed to be the bread winner. Had my marriage continued I would certainly have been out of the workplace for a lot longer and probably would not have had time when I returned to climb the ladder as far as I did. Do I think we should lean in? No. I think we should be very careful not to find ourselves living lives that are "male", simply because male lives are the definition of success. I chose to turn my back on my working life four years ago, racked with doubt about who I would be without my job and my children, now grown, to define me. I find that at this stage in my life I do not want the competitiveness, the posturing, the aggression that accompany life at the top of any business. I want stillness and solitude and yoga and growing things. We all need to have the courage to work out what we want, whatever it is. Letty's comment is fascinating. Life is complicated and leaning in is not the answer to how to live it well. It may be for Sandberg, but even that I doubt.

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    1. I'm pleased to have this response from someone who occupied a position of power. I think your caution is very wise, and I agree that we should take great care in getting caught up in a corporate (consumerist) culture that defines success in ways that are so often unhealthy. That said, how willing are we to have men carry that burden, and do we want society to continue to be shaped (from the more obviously influential power centres, at least) by only one gender? And what if our daughters honestly want the competition and challenge of this type of career AND they want children? Not that I'm necessarily convinced by Sandberg, but these are questions I've long pondered as a feminist anyway, and I don't think we're anywhere near answering them yet.

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    2. I agree wholeheartedly about sharing the burden of both financial and domestic responsibility more equally between men and women. My daughter has a consuming and successful career, working four days a week and made possible by a shared commitment to childcare with her husband who is an academic. She demonstrates to me that there is a pattern of family life that allows both genders to participate in the workplace and in the home. Yet even she struggles with the exhausting and sometimes corrosive expectations imposed by corporate life. She and her husband have worked hard to find their answer. Other than agreeing that she can work for four days (while leaving her with a more than full time workload) I can't see that her employers have been part of the answer. My other daughter has chosen a much less all consuming career quite deliberately in search of a very different work/life balance and lives a much more traditionally patterned way of life with her partner. I hope both of them have been able to think and choose and live making very conscious choices. It is interesting to see the respect they show for each other's choices too! It seems to me that employers will only become significantly more receptive of the need to work differently when both men and women demand it. So far it is far too often a problem for women, not for people!

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    3. Exactly! Watching my daughters and sons-in-law work out their particular balancing acts is wonderfully encouraging to me. So far, none of the husbands have as demanding a career as mine did at that stage, although one daughter gets close -- and nobody travels as much either. I'm not sure how they'd work around that problem.
      Not sure what the childcare situation is like where your kids are, but finding good care (never mind being able to pay for it) is one of the biggest frustrations. That's a whole other post!!

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  8. Have read many reviews and interviews with her but not book. In 40+ years in corporate life, I saw women leaning in so far they practically knocked out their teeth. Many of them also had family responsibilities; a small minority decided not to have children so they could focus on career.

    "I could have been more" is a way to beat yourself up. The women I know who are senior executives or a big deal in other settings today were driven to be that since they were teens or early twenties. Many made it and a few blew apart with the stress.

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    1. I'm happy with what I've achieved, and not beating myself up, but I find it useful to look at my life and see what I might learn to offer my daughters, granddaughters. Again, I wonder if women's leaning in might be less teeth-knocking if their male peers and partners were sharing more. Part of the leaning-in Sandberg speaks of is simply to advocate for more support, more sharing on the domestic front.

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    2. Ma, when you wrote "Sandberg's writing was only a trigger for a longstanding sense of having fallen short of what I might have achieved"... and continue with the sentences that follow that phrase, with the two repetitions of "why had I not..." and "why had I finally leaned away from the table instead of leaning in..." I did not get a sense of that happiness. Glad to hear that you are indeed happy.

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    3. I have to say that the happiness sometimes has to be remembered, even willed. And it doesn't always preclude the wondering. That's just my reality. I would say that I'm happy AND I sometimes wonder why had I not . . .

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  9. I love Duchesse's comment about women leaning in so far they practically knocked their teeth out. And I also agree about 'I could have been more' being a way to beat yourself up. I read Lean In and it made me feel really guilty about not having 'achieved' more career-wise. Of course, as women we really need more guilt (heavy sarcasm). I was a high achiever at school and in my undergraduate degree, and I was running my own small business at the age of 26, but when I got pregnant with my first child at 28 (having been told I would never conceive naturally) my priorities shifted. I didn't stop work or even take time off - but it stopped being the way I measured my happiness, perhaps. There have been times over the years when I have thought that I 'should' be doing more, being more - I did a Masters of Teaching when my kids were 3 and 6 - but every time I seriously consider the corporate world, I think of the opportunity cost (as the economists would have it). I support every woman's right to make the choice - for me, outsourcing everything domestic would not make me happy. At the same time, I can't imagine not working. I will probably always wonder 'what if?', but when I get down about it I remember that they were MY choices; not foisted upon me by patriarchy or anyone else, but choices I made because in addition to working, I want to cook dinner every night (well, maybe not every night :)) and be involved in my kids' schools and make Halloween costumes and do all the things that prioritising work would not allow me to do. Also, I'm 45 and my youngest has 5 years of school left - who knows what will happen in the next phase of my life? I refuse to feel guilty for creating a life that works for me and my family, even if it is at the expense of a (maybe) glittering career. If I had not had children, I think things would have been different. But having said that, I have a number of childless friends who still question the pursuit of career 'success' ... Much to think about. Thank you for opening up the conversation.

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    1. That Duchesse, she has such a way with words and images!
      I had a tough time, as I suggest in my post, with working to separate my responses from what Sandberg actually says. I am inclined to be tough on myself anyway, and honestly, while I have no regrets at all about career sacrifices made so that I could spend time with my kids, I do sometimes wish for the impossible parallel life. Mostly, though, while I also feel I made my own choices rather than having them "foisted upon me by patriarchy," I see where we need to do more to make the choices less anguished for (some of?) our daughters. And I also think we might take the question of child-rearing out of the picture for a moment to consider other ways that women have been and can still be marginalized -- and how we might all benefit by helping our voices be better heard. I'm glad you find the conversation worthwhile -- I know I do, even if I occasionally find it wearying. . .

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    2. Oh, and by the way, Tiffany, it seems to me that you are already leaning way in, showing your daughter and son that it's possible to pursue your own career and recreational interests AND care for your family. Completing a Masters while your kids were young? That's leaning!!

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    3. I have been re-reading your posts and the comments, and I'm going back to read it again because I suspect I came to it defensively. Like many, I'm dismayed by the 'I'm not a feminist' declarations I hear these days from young women and girls, and anyone - like Sandberg - who puts her hand up to say that women should keep striving deserves to be heard. I guess it's just so easy to look at her and think 'yeah, right, most of us are never going to be corporate high-flyers at that level no matter WHAT sacrifices we make' and therefore discount what she has to say ...

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    4. I don't know if I can bear to read it over again, but I am curious if anything there triggered my defensiveness and self-questioning or whether it's simply always a bit latent in me whenever this topic is raised.
      And there's no question that the gap between where she sits and where I do in the social strata makes it tough, at least at first, to identify with her.
      Not surprised, though, to note your willingness to give her a second listen. . . impressed, but not surprised.

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  10. I am no tempted to read the book. Somehow I feel that I made the best of the life circumstances handed to me, returning to academia when my first marriage fell apart and my children were right at school age. For 8 years, I was breadwinner, mother, and father and remarriage felt like the height of success, even though I took on responsibility for 5 more children. I did not advance into administration at my college, though I was told I could have--in part because the demands of my family were somewhat erratic. I did though encourage many students, male and female, alike to believe that THEY could break all sorts of barriers, primarily those that were self-imposed. Sandberg's children are too young yet...

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    1. Again, let me argue that in my reading, Sandberg would say you leaned in. I'd say that's some of the most important leadership we can offer, the encouragement of students of both genders to break through barriers, to envision different possibilities.
      Curious to know what you mean by her children being too young yet. . . . too young for?

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    2. too young for the challenges that teenagers for important developmental reasons MUST throw their parents way.

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    3. Ah yes, those! A girlfriend took an important year away from her studies (did a M.Sc nursing after her marriage broke down) to be there for her daughter's first year of high school -- a wise move, nicely facilitated by her ex's doctor salary and the benefits of having a good lawyer. . . .
      But much as I never intended to provide an apologia for the career woman I never chose to be at that age, I have to ask why we throw that challenge/concern at Sandberg rather than at her children's father. And I'm asking that on behalf of my daughter, in the future, as well, I guess. And wondering if the Nana in me will be able to (or should) refrain from suggesting my daughter should scale back to minimize teenage challenges. . . .

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    4. I was not excepting Mr. Sandberg, but the task of raising teenagers is NOT something that can be hired out.

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    5. That's certainly true, no question at all. But I'm really leery of saying that those mothers who have challenging careers throughout their kids' teenage years aren't doing a good job of raising their kids. I'm pretty sure you'd never say that either. . .I think right away of a friend who worked as a GP full-time while raising her four sons, a single mom from the time the oldest was moving into his teens. The boys are all now rather wonderful men and very respectful of their mom's work and of her parenting. And I'm sure we can all think of many similar examples, no?

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  11. I haven't read book, primarily for some of the reasons you mention and those mentioned by others here in the comments. I have been, in the past too prone to questioning myself over why I hadn't done "better" although I have no basic regrets over my choices in life. I think I will read it in time, but I have been in my own period of transition and the time has not been right for me to address the book as an equal, without letting it overwhelm my own questioning and insecurities. I actually don't think it will be that long before I do read it, and my conversation with the book, will probably help me refine my own thoughts and opinions.

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    1. If I were you, absolutely, I'd steer clear for now. It did get me stirred up. Still, I found Sandberg's perspective interesting, if only because of the transition she articulates between not being a feminist and becoming one -- yes, out of self-interest initially rather than out of, perhaps sorority, but she still gets there. And I've been frustrated so often by students of mine, young women in general, who assert that we're past the need for activism, that they would never call themselves feminists. At any rate, she certainly does fire up conversation around the topic.

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  12. I'm so behind the times - what with my busy career! :-) - so I haven't read this book. But I did just put a hold on a library copy. I'm only 77 on the waiting list. Of course, I won't let this stop me from weighing in...

    I am one of the only ones in my peer group to have a child and I only have 1. Having more than one would have made my professional aspirations nearly impossible. Well, who am I kidding, I am much farther behind, socioeconomically, than most of my long-standing friends. My parents spent a zillion dollars on my education and I often feel like they didn't get the ROI they deserved.

    Having said this, I've always gone my own way. I firmly believe that I can accomplish whatever I want to accomplish. The thing is, I'm not especially financially ambitious. I don't believe this undermines my leadership capacity but it may mess with my aspirations to live high-style in Paris when I retire. My prime motivator is communication and, in my work and life, I am known for excellence in this arena. That makes me proud given that I work my ass off.

    It would be impossible for me to be a workaholic and a daily blogger / creator of more than half my wardrobe / entertainer and hostess / maintainer of a home that needs constant attention. I'd be lying, however, if I said my parenting is what keeps me from succeeding writ large in the workforce. I'm as ambivalent about parenting as I am about throwing it all at work. I'm rather GenX in this respect.

    I should clarify - I am, by many indicators, "successful" in my work. And I hope to continue to thrive in that environment. I just don't think it pays to peak early. I'm going at my own pace.

    (Sorry if this comment has no real bearing on the topic of the book. I'm extrapolating from your post and other comments.)

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  13. It might not be the direction that Sandberg intended when she asked women to "lean in" to fill the "leadership gap," but I think that by insisting on balancing your career success with both parenting and other life interests, you are actually "leaning in." Although we might prefer to come up with another metaphor. . .
    I'm grateful to have the feedback from someone who's still in the immediacy of parenting, right in the full throttle of the teenage years. And to admit that ambivalence about parenting. Not all mothers feel fulfilled by being home with kids fulltime, and if Sandberg reminds us that some would quite happily spend more time in the workforce and would appreciate more domestic support to make that happen, I applaud her just for that. Even if many see her as a corporate shill. I think we are more critical of female corporate shills that we ever are of their far more numerous male counterparts, and I guess I'm trying to avoid falling into that pattern.

    No need to apologize. I asked for such extrapolation. But I'll be keen to hear your response when you work your way to the top of that 77-person list!

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  14. So hard to put into words all the thoughts that swirled around in my head as I read Sandberg's book, which I did enjoy. I'm struggling with always second-guessing my decisions and wondering if I will regret them later. My husband and I have our own business so I have the luxury of making my own hours. I have chosen to work a shorter day (now that my kids are in school full-time — SK & Grade 2). rather than paying for before- and after-school daycare. We paid dearly for several years of full-time daycare for the two of them. So I do the morning scramble of getting the kids ready and doing the school drop-off, go to the office to work for six hours, and then back to school for pick-up, following my afternoon activites, dinner, etc.

    On good days I feel like I have it all because I can have extra time with the kids that I wouldn't have were I to be working a demanding job with someone else dictating (inevitably) long hours. On bad days I second-guess myself and wonder if I'll later regret the time I took out of running the business and fully leaning in to my career and work life.

    My husband and I are already considered the odd ones amongst our family and friends because we are raising our kids in the city rather than the spacious suburbs. No car. Walking distance between home, school, work. It's great routine and no commuting time and stress. I often wonder why I (or, we as women) find myself second-guessing and looking outwards for some kind of validation or confirmation that the decisions I'm making are the right ones? It's especially difficult these days as there is no ONE predominant choice or option like there was for earlier generations of women.

    I think what Sandberg has done is open up the conversation for a new generation of women (I"m a GenX-er) who have never identified themselves as feminist and perhaps take for granted the fact that they have the choices they do. She also successfully points out that we often stand in our own way with our lack of confidence in our own choices, our second-guessing of ourselves, and our reluctance to sometime fully own our power as women in society. The conversation continues and will continue for my daughter and probably her daughter after...

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  15. Despite the ages-and-stages gap between us, I see much in common here -- although some of the commonality is more between your situation and my daughters'.
    For me, this second-guessing was/is part of the balancing. I built up a private music studio (45 students at my busiest point) to accommodate my need to work (for money and for self-fulfilment) while I raised my kids, and also completed my academic degrees so that I was positioned for a different career once they were gone. But the switching 'round did mean consignment to a place on the ladder that I occasionally . . . not resent, nor even clearly regret, but I do wonder. . .

    Yes, primarily, I think that by speaking out, Sandberg has opened the conversation exactly as you say. I find this an exciting moment, despite my personal discomfort with it and despite the many objections to her corporate affiliations. I'm so pleased you chimed in to articulate your response to clearly, despite your obviously busy schedule. Your kids are lucky to have such a thoughtful mom!

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  16. Personally, I like the hokey pokey, you put your hand in BUT THEN you put it out and shake it all about. In fact, in the end you put your WHOLE BODY in and then OUT and shake it all about... Leaning in is boring in comparison.

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  17. I've hesitated to comment mainly because I haven't read the book, and so am concerned about presuming about her message. I will say this though...having "leaned in" for the past 30+ years, I'm often tired, overwhelmed at times, and feeling ready to "lean out" a bit. Again, not having read the book, I'm wary of those who seem to propose individual solutions to what are systemic problems. As individuals, our choices are often limited by our circumstances. We don't all have access to the same opportunities, or environments that encourage our development. So perhaps "leaning in" means also finding support and working to change systemic issues that limit choices (e.g. lack of paid parental leave, health insurance that's tied to employment, ageism, sexism--yes it still exists). I do think women are still having to make choices that men don't have to make and don't have an easy solution. It's going to take a lot of restructuring of our culture, our workplaces and attitudes for that to change.

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    1. I have read the book but have been pretty blind to the surrounding context, quite honestly. And I haven't leaned in to corporate tables, but I've always pushed myself in many ways, and I've bumped some role expectations along the way.
      As I understand Sandberg, she suggests that leaning in might help us find ways of dealing with the fatigue, of sharing the load, of letting go of some of our expectations and tolerating the accompanying social censure -- not just on the domestic but also on the work front. . . .at the very least, she's enlivened a conversation, rewoken a debate that is still very far from finished, despite what so many of my young female students want to think.
      Thanks for your careful, thoughtful response.

      Delete

I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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