Lean IN by Sherly Sanderberg - My Lessons
Updated: Jul 13
The book has statistics around US and India throwing comparison on single mothers who have to earn a living, number of women who drop out of careers etc. It is kept gender neutral with an aim to just highlight inherent bias in both men and women.
I have picked up my favorite 3 chapters with key messages
Chapter 2 - Sitting at the table
“I said no to a lot of opportunities when I was starting out because I thought, that’s not what my degree is in. You have to take an opportunity and make it fit for you.” – Padmasree Wariror, Cisco
One of the situations I could correlate to is that a lot of women don’t sit in the first few chairs of round table. The bias is that men who don’t sit at the table are construed as cool, bad boys, who don’t want to conform. But women are at times, taken as lacking confidence. In my weekly business reviews, I observe people interfere when I speak. If a man lets the other speak, it is taken as maturity. But at times, woman’s maturity and silence is construed as lack of confidence in competing with alpha men. So, at times, it is important to break these myths and speak up.
Chapter 3 – Success and Likeability
This particular chapter talks about a study that Columbia Business school conducted on contrasting likeability of men and women when they are successful. Students got same credentials (outgoing, good networkers etc.) for Heidi/Howard who were successful venture capitalists. Half the students got case study with the name ‘Heidi’ and half got it with the name changed to ‘Howard’. Students gave them same assessment on skill. However, they rated Howard as someone they would love to work with while Heidi seemed selfish and not a person you would want to work for. Women somewhere understand the above and therefore to stay likeable downplay their achievements.
Chapter 7 – Don’t leave before you leave
The chapter emphasizes that women start thinking about the trade-offs between personal and professional life before the situation arises. Some start thinking about it in college, some 5 years before having a child and so on… Women don’t take one big decision to leave their jobs, but take many small decisions which require sacrifices along their career. They try to cross the bridge way ahead in advance. I have seen me and my colleagues in India doing this all the time. One of them planned a baby for 5 years and put a brake even before conceiving. She sort of lost 5 years in the process. One must stop planning and accelerate until one really has to choose.