Lean In was one of the most widely read, widely praised, and widely criticized books of 2013. Many women found deep inspiration in Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg's message to working women, which encouraged them to find new ways to dig their heels in at work, as they become mothers, encounter professional obstacles, or are pushed out. At the same time, other women found the book to be limited in scope, overlooking the ways that many poor and working-class women already "lean in," in the face of hostile work environments, without partners, and without the resources of white-collar employees. Still, the book reignited an ongoing conversation that is worth engaging in: What does work look like for women today, and what do they need to be supported and support themselves?One reviewer said:
"I highly recommend this book. As a single mom near the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder, the negative reviews would have led me to believe 'Lean In' wasn't for me and that only an elite few could relate. To the contrary, I found that Sandberg lends a clear, relevant, necessary voice to issues of leadership and equality for women and men and understanding for parents working in and out of the home.
"Several years ago I had to start from scratch, to put my public university master's to work waiting tables and then claw to get back into a professional position. Somewhere in there, I chose to lose my voice. I became afraid. I need this job. But what would I do if I wasn't afraid? It's an excellent question. My choices have been different from Sandberg's yet the book still resonated with me. I look forward to participating and taking a seat at the table. Lean In
is a call for leadership, an invitation to participate in creating a society that values women, mothers, men, fathers, and in which women value and support each other and ourselves."Read the full review here.Another reviewer wrote:
"Some have criticized Sandberg as a victim-blamer, associating her book with the idea that if women somehow tried harder, they could make it to the top of their professional fields. Sandberg does indeed assert that women do more to hold themselves back than they realize. But, she posits that if women Lean In, challenge themselves ALONG WITH challenging the cultural norms that prevent us from realizing our full potential, then all of us will all be a lot better off. She encourages that by advocating for ourselves, whether through the need for flexible working hours, or voicing the meaningfulness of our work if we choose to stay home, that we are acting in coalition with one another as working mothers- no matter what the nature of our work is.
"The most important part of this book is one that encourages men to take part in domestic life just as vigorously as women do. In order for women to lean in at the conference room table, men need to lean in to the kitchen table. However, for women that don't have this kind of support at home I can see how this advice would fall flat. I personally feel very lucky that I have a partner that is fully engaged in domestic and childrearing tasks, but I can't imagine fully positioning myself to tackle both career and family without his partnership. For women without this kind of partner or home life, this book may feel like more of a fantasy novel than a mapped out path for a post feminist future."Read the full review here.