Monday, March 11, 2013

Mommy Mondays: Is it Time to "Lean In"?

The past few weeks have been an exciting time for working women. From Marissa Mayer banning Yahoo employees from telecommuting to Sheryl Sandberg telling professional women that they would achieve more if they simply "stopped leaning back and leaned in".
 
To be fair, I have tended to take the opportunities that have come to me and worried about the consequences later. I have also interviewed for promotions, been promoted since I've been back from maternity leave, and became an adjunct law professor while I was on maternity leave. So, I suppose I could be accused of having leaned in. 
 

Employers need to implement policies that support parents.

 
However, despite my own extremely modest successes (I am still waiting for my $1 million, forget $500 million) I am passionate about changing the workplace to make it more accommodating for parents. I believe that the workplace needs to change more than women do. I also believe that too many women are forced from the workplace because it is largely intolerant of he demands on parents and has arbitrary requirements for face time.  I also believe that employers and this country are suffering from this brain drain.

For that reason, I tend to agree with the question that Anne-Marie Slaughter poses in her review of Sandberg's book in the New York Times, "When it comes to ensuring that caregivers still have paths to the corner office, how can businesses lean in?"
 
That being said, it appears that Sheryl Sandberg subscribes to the P. Diddy school of thinking, "We can't change the world until we change ourselves." (I bet I'm the only writer who makes that comparison!)

Contrary to what it may seem, women have taken it easy on Sandberg.



Both women have had some supporters for their decisions. However, if what's on being said on Twitter, the rest of the Internet and the water cooler are any indication, there are far more critics of both women.  Everyone from Erin Callan to Carly Fiorina have commented.  If Meg Whitman chimes in, it will be a real party!

Some people have argued that people are judging Mayer and Sandberg more harshly because they are women. I disagree. While, they might be a target by petty people because they are are accomplished, attractive and seem to have been able to combine love and work. People aren't fabricating reasons to criticize them. The criticism is a result of bold moves and statements that they have chosen to make.

In contrast, even with the expressed criticism, I think that the public's responses to Sandberg's book has been soft. Let's be truthful. If Mark Zuckerberg told professional women that the only thing standing between them and the corner office is their failure to work hard enough. Women would have left Facebook in droves. However, when Sandberg says it, the statement appears to go down with a spoonful of sugar. Women seem angry, but nobody has been calling for a boycott. It's amazing what an attractive woman who wears lipstick and smiles can get away with, isn't it?

Sheryl Sandberg discussing "Lean In" on 60 Minutes.


 
 
Tune in to Twitter on Wednesday March 13th from 8PM-9PM for #WorkingMomChat where working moms will discuss Sandberg's book.
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