Erica's Reviews > Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead

Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg
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it was ok

Read this book if you want to get inside the head of a power elite. Read this book if you want to hear about all of the things that women do wrong, to make sure you don't make the same mistakes. And then, read this book if you want to read all about why Marissa Mayer should be supported and treated as our hero, as opposed to our oppressor.

I really wanted to like this book. As a working Mom who has leaned into opportunities, even with a child, I felt the message would resonate with me. And at some points, it did. When she recommended we work our tails off up to the point of giving birth, I agreed. When she said we should demand job security when we take our maternity leave, I agreed. And when she said that we must demand more from our partners, I also agreed. But there was just too much about this book that I did not like. By the time I got to the last chapter and had to hear all about how great Marissa Mayer is, I stopped reading. Are you kidding me? She is great? Taking off two weeks is great? For who, exactly? Her? So great that she had to build a private nursery next to her office to accommodate her childcare needs? This book does what every feminist diatribe does - fails to give recognition to the great job a women does - motherhood. Why don't women want to be feminists? Because of this. I am a professional who is excelling up the career ladder, but I also embraced the most important part of my life, which is being a Mom. I forced myself to take 7 months off, most of which I loved, but some of which was harder than working a job, and I did it for my child. I am sorry, but there is nothing that can replace the importance of this. Not a Nanny, not a Dad. And why do we have to act like this is an anti-woman position? Because if you do, you'll lose respect and fall off the career ladder. B.S. Not true.

I would read about the first half of this book and then stop. The rest is just garbage. Reading about a powerful woman dressing her kids in school clothes at night to save 15 minutes, brilliant says Sandberg. Really? Sounds like selfish child abuse to me. But some of the message is good. Push yourselves women to do better. Don't take yourself off the ladder (or jungle gym) until you actually give birth, not before. There is no reason to. And find your own mentors without asking. Put yourselves out there. But then stop at that. Because I truly believe that the job of motherhood is way more important than this woman gives credit to, and you can and should treat motherhood as important as your quest for power and recognition.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
April 1, 2013 – Finished Reading
April 2, 2013 – Shelved

Comments Showing 1-49 of 49 (49 new)

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Laura Miller For those women, like me, who decided not to have children that still get treated in the same demeaning manner, especially by women managers and VP's - I would like to smack those women upside the head with this book. Also some older male chauvinist pigs, that are old school and refuse to change because "that's how we did it when I was running the business", needs to smacked with this book also. The whole business world needs to change their way of thinking. I don't care which gender is doing which job, equal work means equal pay! Period!

message 2: by Nidhi (new) - added it

Nidhi just started reading. I disagree with Marissa Mayer at so many levels and always thought Sheryl also took a different path. Disappointed to know that Marissa has been used as a role model

Michelle I think you COMPLETELY missed the entire point if the book. The idea is for all women to support each other in our choices. Marissa Mayer included. What right do you have to say what's best for Marissa or her baby? it's the judgements like this that women make against each other that will continue to hold us all back.

Thomas Maluck Marissa is used as an exclusive example. She made her own decisions, and Sandberg recognizes that. Readers are not told how "great" she is for her decisions regarding motherhood.

Teesa I feel that she gives plenty of recognition to the importance of motherhood. If you're looking for a book about career to be about motherhood, that's just not going to be the case. Also, I'm willing to bet that since the book was released in early March and news about Marissa Mayer's nursery broke in late February that this was not on the radar at the time it was written.

message 6: by AP (new) - rated it 3 stars

AP I think your rant is way too one sided. For one, not every woman has children. Good for you that you did and you find that to be the most important facet of your life - but does the rest of the world have to hear it all the time? Do you have to turn every damn thing into a mommy war? So Sandberg does not write a book that focuses as much on motherhood as you would like (and she does focus on it!!). That's all I am getting from your review and that's fine but hardly something to rant so much about. A childfree woman might think the opposite of every other women & career book, usually full to the rim about how to balance motherhood with career and how the former is the more important role. That doesn't make those books bad, maybe just not a great fit. I for one found this book balanced and in my circle both mothers and nonmothers got something from it. I can't say the same about too many other career books. Second, you are way more obsessed about Mayer than the emphasis was on Sandberg's book. She listed Mayer as one of many examples. I don't agree with MM either - as a disabled working woman, working from home is incredibly helpful to me, if not the critical factor in my success, so I am no fan of Mayer and yet I did not find problems with the book like you did.

Marty If you think dressing a kid in their (comfortable) clothes for the next day the night before is "selfish child abuse, I'm guessing that either your child" is still very young or you have a nanny come to you in the mornings.

Megan Cashin I think many of these comments highlight the lack of support that women provide for other women, regardless of their choices. These comments are a study in exactly what Sandberg discusses in her book.

Dorothy Did Marisa Mayer told anyone that they shouldn't take more than two weeks of maternity leave? No. The Google founders didn't take months off when their children were born, why didn't they get criticized? Marisa Mayer is a role model not because she was so dedicated to work that she only time two weeks of maternity leave. She is a role model because she did what's best for her and her family, in her family's opinion. She didn't conform to other women's pressure to take many months off. She didn't conform to men's pressure to not take times off at all. She made her choice, and chose a husband who also took care of the child. Why are women so critical of other women when they don't make choices that conform to our choices, yet we don't make a beep when men don't make choices that conform to our choices? Why can't we be supported to one another? Why can't we pat Marisa Mayer's back and say: "I trust your judgement for your family. Good luck on the new job!"? Isn't that what we all want? Not to be judged, but to be encouraged?

message 10: by John (new) - rated it 4 stars

John Pappas I loved the comment early in the book where fifty percent of household managers ( read: stay at home parents) should be dads as well as 50 percent of the leadership roles should be by women. It really resonates with me.

However, since the book is about women in the working world I am not too surprised about the lack of focus, in a general sense, on motherhood.

Sukanya Agree with Michelle's comment-Marissa leaned in by making a decision for herself-not for anyone else. She decided how SHE wanted to manage her career and family-it was choice she made for herself, not for everyone else.

message 12: by Kerry (new)

Kerry Berenato I think you've proven her point. Because a woman is strong and put her career on a platform does not make her a child abuser. I've heard so many people call Sheryl a B*****....again proving her point. I'm not interested in having children, and I use her ideas everyday, I guess I'm a super B! Lol

message 13: by Jocelin (new)

Jocelin Very insightful and thought-provoking review. Well done.

Raina Erica, I love the comments your review has fostered. Further proof that we are all in this together and we need this conversation!

Lean In, page 161: " Women in powerful positions often receive greater scrutiny.... The dearth of female leaders causes one woman to be viewed as representative of her entire gender. And because people often discount and dislike female leaders, these generalizations are often critical."

Page 166: "Ideal worker women need to prove that, although they weren't always there, their children are fine, fine, fine....Women who have rejected the ideal worker norm... Need to prove that their compromise was necessary for the good of their families. So you have each group of women judging the other, because neither group of women has been able to live up to inconsistent ideals."

message 15: by Jen (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jen The misconception about this book is that she somehow degrades the work of choosing to be a mother or to take more time to be one. She does not and says so more than once. Corporate leadership is not for everyone, no where near it. But there has been an ocean of ink spilled on the subject of what it takes to do the work of a good stay-home mother. We have plenty of examples to look to in the entirety of human history.

Her task here is to show us her world and to pass on what she has learned to empower those women who want to be leaders in the corporate space. She also shares what its like to try and add children to that life; where career and kids are not mutually exclusive.

What I got from reading this about career/motherhood is that there really isn't a complete solution to be both:
You either have a "geriatric pregnancy" as they medically call it when you are 35+ after you have built a foundation of career experience and somehow juggle all that. Or you try and play catch-up when the kids are grown.

I am thankful that she has written about how she has tried and succeeded as best she could. Her resume is flipping awesome.

message 16: by Pat (new) - rated it 4 stars

Pat Maxwell Erica, I don't think that is what Ms Sandberg is saying. What, by the way, is so bad about having women among the power elite of our society? Should we just all remain among the lumpen proletariat until the dictator comes?

message 17: by Tina (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tina It seems like you're the woman Sandberg was asking us not to be. You're judging a woman you don't even know on her choices and you're putting motherhood to be the "end all and be all" of (by your tone, what you believe should be) everyone's life! Also, you totally discredit a father's role in a baby's life with your comments. Sorry to break it to you, but just because he didn't pop the baby out of his womb doesn't mean a father means any less to a child than you do. THIS kind of "holier than thou" mother crap is what keeps men in the office and not in the home! And which in turn reinforces the idea that women should be in the home raising kids.

Maddie Erica, do you realise that through your judgement of Marissa Mayer, you're perpetuating the "cat fight", women against women mentality that Sandberg argued is counterproductive to achieving equality in the home and the workplace? It's great that you were able to take seven months maternity leave, but your choice doesn't mean that Mayer's choice to take two weeks or attach a nursery to her office is wrong. There are many ways in which women (and men) balance their personal and working lives. By judging Mayer, you're essentially missing the point of the entire book. Mayer's choices don't challenge or cancel out your own, and if women like you continue to judge other women and other mothers, we are never going to live in an equal society. Equality in the home or workplace will never be achieved If women like us are unwilling to accept one another's choices and recognise that there is no prescribed way of climbing the jungle gym while also balancing motherhood.

Melissa Curtis I almost feel like we didn't read the same book? She constantly acknowledges how lucky she is to be able to provide her family with the care they need and that she has a support system in her husband and sister. When she talks about Mayer she says that's it is good for her. Since that's what she wanted and could do. She talks constantly about raising children being very important to the point that I was insanely bored whenever it was brought up because I don't ever want children. She is saying to support women for their choices to do whatever they want and in their own time.

Adrienna So far I don't like the I hate to see the rest.

message 21: by Anne (new) - rated it 2 stars

Anne Mas AMEN. Thanks for this review, I'm going to read it at book club.

Adrienna Love to hear your views Anne.

Caryn "Take what you like and leave the rest" is a mantra, I think it initially comes from AA, not sure, but anyways, it's a good mantra and IMHO, it fits here.

I think Sandberg has a lot of great points in this book, and for me, many that did not directly apply, but were very adaptable to my own very different path, (Take!). Some didn't apply, (Leave the rest).

Adrienna Caryn wrote: ""Take what you like and leave the rest" is a mantra, I think it initially comes from AA, not sure, but anyways, it's a good mantra and IMHO, it fits here.

I think Sandberg has a lot of great p..."

Good points. Take what works and dismiss what doesn't.

Cynthia @Erika, loved your review of Lean In! Echoed so much if my own feelings and experiences. Though I didn't admit it, I never finished it either. Got about 3/4 and was just done! I was like 'enough already '!

message 26: by Posy (new) - rated it 5 stars

Posy I think different people have different views on power and motherhood, it is hard to do both things well at the same time.Lean in just shared something about how woman can enter the world of power, but maybe some people don't have such desire and only want to be a good mother. They are just different values.
What is true is that people do have this kind of prejudice that women can do the thing that is usually done by men. Sheryl just told us that women can also achieve it, but it doesn't mean that every woman should act that kind of role.

message 27: by Wendy (new)

Wendy I couldn't finish it. It went on and on and on about how great and smart she is, and is an account of all the people she knows blah blah blah . Felt very self centered to me

message 28: by Annesha (new)

Annesha See, Just as you command respect for your posiiton and your view points. DO respect her's as well. She handled her career and children just as fine.

message 29: by Bronzewaals (new)

Bronzewaals Extremely good...!!

message 30: by Speedread (new)

Speedread Amen!!!

Frana Laca completely agree!!!

Laura Birnbaum Exactly!

Gokce S. Sandberg is definitely not a feminist. She was born into privilege and is blind to some obstacles ordinary women face everyday like motherhood and work balance or trying to demand paid leave from a boss with the fear of losing job. If she is the reason you don't like feminism, well, this shouldn't be the case because she is a postfeminist (merely a shallow version) at best.

Erica Roberts I enjoyed the book but I have to agree about the dressing kids in the school clothes for sleep! I would not go that far (I don't plan on having kids though anyway and I'm already 30 and unmarried so I probably won't change my mind).

Louisa It is so sad to read reviews like yours. She clearly emphasizes the importance of having choices: women who want to stay at home a lot more, should, and should be applauded. But it should a choice. Another very important thing is solidarity among women, which is what is most disappointing about your review; Sandberg says women should not feel threatened by the different choices of other women, referring in particular to the different options of motherhood. But that's exactly what your review focuses on. Sad.

message 36: by Leah (new) - rated it 1 star

Leah This is so absolutely perfect. I could've written this myself

Kristin It makes me sad that anyone could read this book and their takeaway would be that Sheryl fails to give credit to mothers or that this is a female "diatribe".
She gives credit to ALL women and says that what a woman decides is best for her family should be respect no matter what the choice- career woman or full time mom.

Marissa Mayer is hardly mentioned in the book. Her name appears almost as many times in this review as it does it the book.

mirna sm can't agree more

Kathleen Well said Erica!

message 40: by Aashna (last edited Mar 28, 2018 10:44AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Aashna Being feminist is about equal opportunities and rights for both men and women. So many people have the wrong perception of it. We are either feminists or sexists who think men should have more opportunities.

Kelstar I think maybe you're misunderstanding what she is saying. She's not putting down women for their choices. She is acknowledging the barriers we face as women including the inherent inequalities so deeply imbedded in our culture many find it hard to see let alone acknowledge.
It's better to an acknowledge than be blind. That's how we can start to working on the problems with our society that oppress women.

message 42: by Aida (new)

Aida Khodadad Who says that our first responsibility and goal in life is to be mothers? Just because you feel that way, doesn’t mean that this is for everyone. Just because we are born with the ability to give birth, doesn’t mean that we are born to be mothers.

Andreia I don’t think you read carefully the part about Melissa Mayer. You also should re-read the part about women that do not support each other.

Yikai Wang Is this not yet another Heidi/Howard case? Heidi went back to work after 2 weeks! She is crazy! Howard went back to work after 2 weeks! He is such a good dad who cares to take 2 whole weeks off for his baby!

Personally I took a year off and went back full time, but I won’t judge other women taking only few weeks off, because the whole point of all this is: we have a choice, everyone has a choice.

Alyssa Chapman Yikes. Me thinks someone doesn’t know what a feminist is... and it does not compute with me any person who uses that as a talking point to the contrary to anything.

message 46: by Kalvy (new)

Kalvy I came to get the review..and yours judgemental view as to how all mothers should raise the child makes me wanna read it actually

message 47: by Ebru (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ebru Akça Erica, she says everyone has a choice snd we should not jugde each other which is exactly the opposite of what she is saying, maybe you should reread the book!

Nidhi Omg. You really missed the whole point of the book. 😂

Stephanie Miller You totally missed what she was saying. I hope you read it again without the lens of you biases on what makes a mom good. Child abuse for dressing your kids in their school clothes for bed??? Maybe watch the trials of Gabriel Fernandez before you start saying things like that

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