Stéphanie Thomson argues that, despite its flaws, Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In is an interesting guide to getting on in business that, above all, reignites debate
“Our revolution has stalled” says Sheryl Sandberg. Women earn on average significantly less than men; we occupy far fewer positions of power; we still shoulder the main burden of housework and childcare; we “compromise” our careers for partners and children. This, claims Sandberg in her recent book Lean In, has to change. As with most revolutions, hers has not been without its critics. Never one to be put off by a bit of controversy (quite the opposite), it was with relish that I started to read what Sandberg describes as her “sort of feminist manifesto”.
Lean In begins with a simple observation: “Men still run the world.” Despite all the progress made, the political, economic and business elite is still, on the whole, an old boys’ club. For Sandberg, changing this involves breaking down not only external barriers, but also the internal barriers within us: those little things we do (or don’t do) that hold us back, stop us from getting the pay rise, promotion or dream job. Far from ignoring the institutional barriers that exist, Sandberg recognises them but instead chooses to focus on the things women can do right now: “We can dismantle the hurdles in ourselves today.”
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The editor has modified this article on 13/11/13 for grammatical errors. The original title was “Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In” and has been changed to better reflect the author’s argument.