It’s International Women’s Day on March 8 and also time for a little confession, sublime seekers: I am a feminist! *Cringe*, right? There’s a stigma about the word that makes you think I’m likely to a) burn my bra b) go picket for equal pay or c) become a fierce man-hater. But I’m not going to do anything of those things… I think my bras are awesome (and expensive… err), I’m paid pretty well for what I do (*gasp*) and I like boys so much I married one.
Jamila Rizvi of Mamamia wrote an article in 2012 that really got me thinking about the word ‘feminist’. I’m a feminist because I believe in equality. I also believe things are pretty bloody good for women in Australia. I believe that women do not always have the same opportunities that men enjoy in many of our workplaces. And I believe it’s not men’s ‘fault’. Nor is it women’s.
I share this view with Sheryl Sandberg, the Chief Operating Office of Facebook and the author of the book ‘Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead’. I read Lean In in the middle of last year and was surprised by the profound affect it had on me… so much so that I’m calling it a Sublime Find!
What’s this book all about?
Sheryl does several things in the book. She talks about the gap between men and women at work and she explains why the gap is there (after reading the book I studied gender diversity as part of my Master’s degree and was convinced of Sheryl’s genius summation of the issues around gender equality). She talks about women and likeability as well as women’s relationship with other women in the workplace (including this little gem of a quote; “There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women”). She takes it one step further though, and tells us what we can do on a personal level to start creating change. I’ll give you a hint: it involves letting your man-friend hang out the washing.
But the best thing that Sheryl does in Lean In is an incredible call-to-action, which starts in the very first chapter where she asks this question:
She says this question is posted on the walls of Facebook’s offices and goes on to share that her answer was write Lean In. I couldn’t help but ask myself the same question. My own answer was confronting (because I AM afraid, Sheryl, I am positively scaredy-cat-ish) but ultimately led me down the path of starting this blog and I expect will carry me on towards several other new and exciting/terrifying experiences.
Sheryl talks about learning to ‘sit at the table’ and more actively insert yourself into the field of vision. She talks about asking for what you want, and how to do it. She talks about crying at work, about finding a way to be comfortably feminine in a male-dominated field and about being realistic about balancing work and family. She advises ‘don’t leave before you leave’ by mentally veering away from professional experiences for reasons outside of work and she talks about the importance of leaning in to opportunity.
And this is the bit of the book that resonated most with me. I believe wholeheartedly in being actively involved in all parts of life, not a bystander. I think life can be richer, more interesting and ultimately more rewarding when you take control of a situation rather than letting it happen to you. I think you stand to achieve more when you take time to consider what you want, then make it happen. I don’t think this call to action is just for women who work, I think it’s for all women, all people. Lean in to your life. It is simply too short to have it pass you by.
I want to Lean In! Where can I get the book?
You’ll find it at all major book retailers (online or instore), you should pick up a copy for around $30. I bought my copy on the kindle e-store to read on my iPad for just under $10. After reading the book, I bought 4 copies for the Glamazons (my closest girlyfriends), I know I’ll share it with others too (boys and girls) and of course, sublime-seekers, I want to make sure you’re all over it a well!
At 200-odd pages, it’s not a long read and Sheryl’s style is engaging and easy to follow. Even if it’s not the sort of thing you’d usually read (especially if it’s not the sort of thing you’d usually read!) I’d recommend giving it a go. It might just change your life, like it did mine!
Have you read Lean In? What would you do if you weren’t afraid? Tell us below!