Lean In – Chapter 11

Chapter 11: Working Together Towards Equality

To wrap up my series on Lean In, I am going to share my favorite quote from the final chapter:

All of us – men and women alike – have to understand and acknowledge how stereotypes and biases cloud our beliefs and perpetuate the status quo. Instead of ignoring our differences, we need to accept and transcend them”  – Sheryl Sandberg, Lean In, p. 159.

A different perspective on life and the workplace is my biggest takeaway from the book. I appreciated the stories and anecdotes from each chapter that improved my critical lens of the world and forced me to rethink how I support women and men in work and home life. Sandberg summarizes that women should join with men as well as other women to work together and help women rise to leadership positions. She states “Women don’t often receive female support but can really help each other by working together.” I am making a commitment to support my colleagues, women and men, in their personal and professional endeavors.

"We need to be grateful for what we have but dissatisfied with the status quo"

Together let’s make the workplace better for everyone. I hope you will add Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg to your bookshelf and let me know your thoughts. Thanks for following the series.


This post is part of a series on Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg

Lean In – Chapter 10

Chapter 10: Let’s Start Talking About It

Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to go through life - Sheryl SandbergSandberg addresses gender bias in the workplace in Chapter 10, similar to the topic covered in her TEDTalk. She stated that although gender is not openly acknowledged or talked about in our day-to-day lives, it is usually lurking below the surface. Sandberg encourages all of us, men and women, to talk about it. “We need to talk and listen and debate and refute and instruct and learn and evolve.” I appreciated the advice and issues raised in this chapter because I have witnessed differences between men and women in the workplace before and I am sure you have too (whether you have noticed it or not).

“Most people would agree that gender bias exists… in others. We, however, would never be swayed by such superficial and unenlightened opinions. Except we are. Our preconceived notions about masculinity and femininity influence how we interact with and evaluate colleagues in the workplace.” – Sheryl Sandberg

What are you doing to eliminate gender bias? Are you aware of it? Take a moment everyday to be cautious of how your preconceived notions influence how you evaluate your colleagues. Are women required to “fit in” to workplace norms built around masculinity? (Sandberg references a deep-sea fishing trip at one company). Are women given equal space at the table? Does this include the opportunity to speak up and credit for their ideas? Ken Chenault, CEO of American Express, acknowledges that men and women are more likely to interrupt a woman and give credit to a man for an idea first proposed by a woman. Are successful women at your workplace labeled as not well-liked by peers? Maybe that is because success and likeability are negatively correlated for women (as found in the Heidi/Howard case study). Sandberg suggests always asking yourself if the successful female is paying a gender-based penalty.

Opportunities and access for women have improved tremendously, but there is still progress to be made in all areas of society, including the workplace. That’s why Sandberg’s writing on this topic is an important addition to ongoing dialogue.



This post is part of a series on Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg

Lean In – Chapter 9

Chapter 9: The Myth of Doing It All

Does it appear that everyone else has their lives together and you are the one running around trying to pick up the pieces? Do you run out of time to get all of the things done on your list? Do you wonder how super mom manages her job, her kids, and her life so perfectly? Sometimes my life feels this way and this dilemma is what Sheryl Sandberg discusses in Chapter 9 of Lean In.

No one has it all. But it’s easy to think that everyone else does, especially when we get most of our information about someone’s life from their Instagram or other social media posts. Learn to make the most of what you have and maximize your time for the most benefits and what makes you happy. Sandberg included this quote by Sharon Poczter, Professor of Economics at Cornell, in Chapter 9:

“The antiquated rhetoric of ‘having it all’ disregards the basis of every economic relationship: the idea of trade-offs. All of us are dealing with the constrained optimization that is life, attempting to maximize our utility based on parameters like career, kids, relationships, etc., doing our best to allocate the resource of our time. Due to the scarcity of this resource, therefore, none of us can ‘have it all,’ and those who claim to are most likely lying.”

Do what makes you happy. Make time for things that you want to do. I used to give up on working out when I was busy with work or school. Now I always make running or working out a priority by trading it off with other things. Does the house always have to be clean? Do I need to respond to this email right now?

The most valuable lesson I learned about doing it all and deciding what mattered happened in graduate school. (Any of my CSAA professors should stop reading right now). At the beginning of my graduate program I insisted on reading every assigned article and chapter very carefully while taking notes. This often caused me to say no to spending time with friends and miss out on opportunities for connections and networking. Throughout the 2 years I learned to discern what was important and what was not. I learned to skim some of those chapters, and I learned above all, as the quote below explains, what mattered and what did not. I was not a “perfect” student that read every single word of every assignment, and I still have a master’s degree!

Every day we make choices about the amount of time we are going to spend perfecting something and where our priorities lie. Dr. Glimcher (quote below) stated for her this meant getting home at a reasonable hour but not spending that time at home making sure the house was clean.

I had to decide what mattered and what didn’t and I learned to be a perfectionist only in the things that mattered

What should your priorities be today? Are you wasting time perfecting something that does not need to be perfect? As Facebook’s wall so proudly displays: Done is better than perfect.


This post is part of a series on Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg

Lean In – Chapter 8

Chapter 8: Make Your Partner A Real Partner

There is a long list of quotes I saved from chapter 8; it was hard to pick just one to share (I picked 3, hope that is okay). Sheryl Sandberg’s advice in this chapter is very valuable. Since I do not currently have a partner, it is advice that I can take and really consider as I make future life choices. One challenging thing about being a woman with the drive to succeed and excel is society’s expectations by gender. Sandberg addresses it in many ways, including acknowledging that employers often assume women will not live up to expectations of professional dedication and a man’s success is often viewed, unfortunately, in comparison to his wife.

“I truly believe that the single most important career decision that a woman makes is whether she will have a life partner and who that partner is. I don’t know of one woman in a leadership position whose life partner is not fully – and I mean fully- supportive of her career. No exceptions.” – Sheryl Sandberg, Lean In, p 110.

Got it? The single most important career decision. Just sort of a big deal…Now how about this:

Lean In Quote - We need more men to sit at the table..the kitchen table"

Are you reluctant to give your partner their fair share of home responsibilities? Sandberg says women should not assign or suggest tasks to their partners. Share responsibility fully. And finally:

“When it comes time to settle down, find someone who wants an equal partner. Someone who thinks women should be smart, opinionated, and ambitious. Someone who values fairness and expects or, even better, wants to do his share in the home. These men exist and, trust me, over time, nothing is sexier” – Sheryl Sandberg, Lean In, p 115.

This chapter was a really good reminder not to settle, not to assign responsibility, and to find someone that will be a supportive and equal partner in all areas of life.




This post is part of a series on Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg