Saturday, July 20, 2013

Lean In

Title: Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead
Author: Sheryl Sandberg
Genre: Non-fiction
Published: 2013
Rating: 8/10

Review: This book has been making waves since it came out and mentioned more than once by various folks at work, so it got me curious despite the fact this is generally not my cup of tea.

If I had to describe the book using three adjectives, they would be "entertaining", "inspirational", and "predictable". The best part about the book is that it's an easy read, full of anecdotes from Sheryl's personal life, which I really enjoyed. Her sense of humor really comes through, for example, when she speaks about her pregnancy.
I gained almost seventy pounds, and my feet swelled two entire shoe sizes, turning into odd-shaped lumps I could only see only when they were propped up on a coffee table. A particularly sensitive Google engineer announced that "Project Whale" was named after me.
The story continues to tell how Sheryl got pregnancy parking for women at Google, which masculine company founders approved of, but would not have thought of implementing without a woman in their ranks. The story is far from shocking, but the tone and various bits of description make it much more fun than it could have been otherwise.

Besides anecdotes the book is fairly heavy on citing various research into gender studies. A lot of it is interesting, but has been around for quite awhile, so many of the things she mentions as important-to-know are those I have heard of before. An interesting topic that she brings up is women stalling their careers early because they plan to have kids in the future, sometimes years in advance of actually having the first kid and long before it's at all necessary. She argues that taking on more interesting, growth-requiring roles before pregnancy is more likely to lead to women being motivated to come back to work as mothers.

In general, there's a lot of common sense advice in the book aimed mostly at women in white collar positions. I don't think this book will make someone into a leader when they weren't before, but it can raise awareness of certain problematic behaviors at work and it's pretty inspirational in terms of stories she tells and her own career. I'd definitely recommend it to any woman interested in the topic and not too familiar with other books in the field.

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