Leaning In — Women in the Work Place

With Sheryl Sandberg, author of Lean In

I had the pleasure of joining with Janet Murguia and Patricia Worthy to host a multicultural women’s breakfast for Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO.  Her book, Lean–In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, has been creating quite a stir.  Some women have been questioning her right to speak out on the issues of discrimination and other barriers women face today, since she is a successful white woman who can afford help.  I say “hurray” that a woman who has succeeded in corporate America is willing to go public with the truth that too many others pretend don’t exist once they have made it.

Her book lays out the data and makes the case for the continuing need for public policy and private sector changes that would help ensure that our country has the full benefit of the talent and experience of half of its population.  And she empowers women by noting the things we ourselves can do.  She isn’t “blaming the victim” as some other women have charged.  She is pointing out reality – women need to understand how the work place is rigged against them, how they have internalized the unconscious bias that exists and what they can do to help create change.  And she notes in her book what is in it for men to join women in ensuring that gender bias is countered.  She has said that until we change the system, it is in our interest to understand how to make it work.

What I also really appreciate is she is bringing back the “f word” – feminists.  Too many women have internalized the loud and obnoxious sexism of radio hate jockeys like Rush Limbaugh who make their living out of trying to hold on to the status quo.  We should not allow bullies to make us afraid of standing up for ourselves and each other.  After all, it has been repeatedly shown that when the lives of women improve, the lives of their families and communities also improve.

I think there is much in the book that Asian American men, as well as women, can learn from in their own battles against the glass ceiling as well as for the women in their lives.  Leadership has many styles and takes many forms, and right now, only one generally gets rewarded with promotion.

Sandberg isn’t just speaking out but she has joined with other women to launch www.leanin.org, a new website for on-line leadership learning, inspiration and fellowship.  I hope you will read the book, check out the website and join the movement.  Sheryl has challenged all of us — what if we all leaned in?