I’ve found the many comments surrounding Sheryl Sandberg’s new book, “Lean In” to be very interesting.
Of course there were many women for it…
Wired Magazine: Why You Should Lean In to Sandberg’s New Book
“Most working women will find Sandberg’s stories incredibly relatable. What woman hasn’t wrestled with self-doubt?”
and not surprisingly, those against it…
NYPost: Sandberg: Women’s Worst Enemy
“But those who follow Sheryl’s lead are bound to be disappointed — bitter, broke, unemployed, and perpetually single.”
“The problem with this kind of harder-better-faster-stronger advice is that it’s simply not applicable to the 99% of women in the workforce.”
There were also those men who (predictably and fashionably) came out in support of it.
“Guys This is What Sandberg’s Lean In Can Do For You
But how about men coming out against it? None? Interesting. No comments even in support of points made by women who were against the book?
I’m going to start there and point out that I think this is part of the gender challenge that Sandberg touches on, and also point out that I think there’s a few things missing from or not being acknowledged in this debate.
First of all, there needs to be more dialogue around the issue of women’s treatment and opportunity in the workplace, not less. That means participation, and participation by everybody including the men who are against what Sandberg proposes or suggests in her book. The men present in this dialogue shouldn’t just be the “Men For’s” while the “Men Against’s” hide or duck out on the sidelines in silent protest. You hold the mindset that we ALL have to deal with. Nut up, step up, and get into the discussion with something constructive.
Second, in regards to “having it all”, i.e. the family and the career for women, I think us men need to acknowledge clearly and openly up front that we men are at large the the only reason this is an issue for women at all.
We make it an issue in two ways:
1) We men settle for a maximum income we can earn based upon two things: our own self-worth and our ambition. Interestingly, Sandberg challenges women to not let this hold them back. I put the same challenge out to men. If we didn’t settle for a maximum income then women wouldn’t be in this difficult position.
And to any healthy men out there insulted by what I just said, ask yourself what’s truly holding you back from making more money. Is it the economy? The government? Offshoring? Equal rights? Or does it simply boil down to what you think you can and can’t do, or will or won’t do, not as a matter of capability but a matter of privilege? I’d suggest considering this carefully.
Sandberg limits her “attack” on men, so allow me to pick up the slack and say that if your wife/girlfriend/partner/significant other is having to wrestle with the matter of being a mom and being a career woman then you, sir, are not doing your job. Go out and make more money so you can remove this stress and have her be happy, as is it your job to do so in her life.
Again, Sandberg isn’t as harsh. She takes a softer, “fairer” approach and instead suggests that a man share duties equally at home. I agree that these things should be done but I also believe these things let a man off too easy. Go out and be a greater provider.
Now to my second reason as to why we are the reason this “balance” issue is a problem for women
2) We stand by and let women get sucked into the vacuum of who gets to work vs. who gets to stay at home with the kids.
Yes, it may and can be a woman’s choice or preference to stay at home and be a mom, but my point is how many of us guys actually fight that decision? How many of us say, “No, Honey, let ME take 18 years out of my career to raise the kids” or say, “Absolutely not, honey, I want that role you go out and work”? We don’t. Instead, we sit back under the guise of being agreeable to or supportive of a woman’s “work-life balance” when we’re the ones forcing them in the first place to have to choose.
Bullshit. In those cases what we’re doing is handing off the responsibility of kids and family for them to have to juggle while we take on the “oh, please pity us” role of being the primarily wage earner and whine about how hard we work. If you’re a work whiner, then you’re exactly who I’m saying this to.
Why aren’t men fighting for those opportunities to raise the kids? I’m sure SOME of this has to do with nature, but not all of it. Either way, this comes back to the same argument again – how about you go make more money so that you both have the choice and option to raise your kids at home together in an equal fashion.
To me, Sanberg’s book highlights the bigger problem of people not taking enough leadership in their lives, be it men or women, and that’s been a longstanding issue since WWII in my opinion.
Her book specifically is targeted to women who have the means and ability to climb the corporate ladder and offers suggestions on how to do so, but I think it inherently assumes that men are already there doing the max career-wise since they don’t have the same sort of balance challenges at home, and if that’s the case I may be disagreeing with Sandberg there. (I hope to get the opportunity to meet her and ask her in person).
At any rate, if women need to “Lean In” then men need to “Step Up”. If Sandberg is like any of the corporate women I know, she probably didn’t want to go there but suffice it to say that her book’s existence should be proof alone that the need for this is real.