Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Lean In...very inspiring and thought provoking book.

Recently I finished reading book "Lean In" by Sheryl Sandberg, it was very refreshing and learning experience for me. I liked the book lot because it was very honest perspective of very successful women about the challenges she faced, difficulties she experienced from every quarter of her life like family, culture, social taboos, traditions, etc. It was very open and honest discussion, very rare thing to find these days. Without any hesitation I recommend this book to everyone, specially to those who are interested in knowing about tremendous progress women have achieved and also about their continuous struggle to achieve equal and fair treatment in our society. 

One thought which I liked the most from the book is her point that we need to respect choices of people, we need to respect choices of women who choose (out of their own will and desire) to stay at home, look after their family and make this as their primary job as well as women who prefer (again out of their own will and choice) to go out, pursue career in any field they want and become successful in it.

[We all want the same thing: to feel comfortable with our choices and to feel validated by those around us. So let’s start by validating one another. Mothers who work outside the home should regard mothers who work inside the home as real workers. And mothers who work inside the home should be equally respectful of those choosing another option].

At the same time choices of men who choose to do any of above mentioned things should also be respected, we need to change heavily stereotyped gender roles, redefine them and make choice of any job as a matter of personal choice

[The gender stereotypes introduced in childhood are reinforced throughout our lives and become self-fulfilling prophesies. Most leadership positions are held by men, so women don’t expect to achieve them, and that becomes one of the reasons they don't].

As this book is about her personal experiences in day to day life it sounds very practical and logical, problems and possible solutions mentioned in the book sound very real and doable as they are from real life experiences, this doesn't sound like some manifesto of some ambitious feminist movement or too much preaching which I think is a big plus for this book.

She also writes about fears which women face  
"Fear is at the root of so many of the barriers that women face. Fear of not being liked. Fear of making the wrong choice. Fear of drawing negative attention. Fear of overreaching. Fear of being judged. Fear of failure. And the holy trinity of fear: the fear of being a bad mother/wife/daughter." she also goes on to say "for women, “self-doubt becomes a form of self-defense. In order to protect ourselves from being disliked, we question our abilities and downplay our achievement".

I also like when she questions society's attitude towards women, she writes,  
"It’s up to us to end the self-fulfilling belief that 'women can't do this, women can't do that.' Throwing up our hands and saying 'It can't be done' ensures that it will never be done." 

Along with society's attitude women's attitude to themselves matter a lot and is going to play key role in determining their role in future society. She also writes about women's attitude towards other women, often this is used to show that women are real enemies of other women, she offers very valid explanation for this where she emphasises that women can be both victims and perpetrators of gender bias,
"Women’s negative views of female coworkers are often seen as an objective assessment—more credible than the views of men. When women voice gender bias, they legitimize it. Obviously, a negative attitude cannot be gender based if it comes from another woman, right? Wrong. Often without realizing it, women internalize disparaging cultural attitudes and then echo them back. As a result, women are not just victims of sexism, they can also be perpetrators." 

 She also comments about gender stereotypes and questions many indirect gestures which condition our mind to stereotype both genders,
"Other cultural messages are more blatant. Gymboree once sold onesies proclaiming “Smart like Daddy” for boys and “Pretty like Mommy” for girls."

The book contains many situations and examples which are really interesting and thought provoking. She also shares many successful examples from her friends lives where couples break traditional norms and share the responsibilities or even switch traditional roles to live peaceful, happy and successful life.

I would like to end this post with very optimistic quote from the book, "The hard work of generations before us means that equality is within our reach. We can close the leadership gap now. Each individual’s success can make success a little easier for the next. We can do this—for ourselves, for one another, for our daughters, and for our sons. If we push hard now, this next wave can be the last wave. In the future, there will be no female leaders. There will just be leaders."

I wish everyone works hard to make a society a reality where we have equal opportunity for everyone irrespective of their gender, this will be first step towards creation of discrimination free world.

Thanks for reading and please share your views on this topic.

Links:
1. Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead
2. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B009LMTDL0/ref=r_soa_w_d
3. Sheryl Sandberg: So we leaned in ... now what?

3 comments:

  1. Hi uncle,
    Do you have any new resolutions for the new year?

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  2. I read this book on your recommendation,thank you I found it very inspiring.
    but do you think the thoughts can work in India ? Where women s are in much complex situations because of many reasons like education,what religion and social setups.I feel what if gift this book to my friend will she find time to read it,in spite of the fact that she loves to read ? Will she get a moment for herself? I wish I could gift them space and time for themselves where they cold explore themselves.And I firmly believe they are no less than any successful women on this earth.

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    Replies
    1. I agree with you that in India situation is more complex compared to developed countries like USA because of nature of society and cultural differences. You are also right that there are many other reasons which inhibit progress of women (like education, patriarchal mindset, safety, etc.). But we need to try to change these things, and women need to play bigger role in this change, just complaining wont help. They can't always depend on others to fight for them, slowly but steadily they need to empower themselves using whatever opportunities they get. I know its easy to say this than to do it but someone needs to do this and I think current generation has capacity to bring that desired change.

      This blog along with my personal efforts in my own family and circle is contribution from my side. I am glad that at least you are thinking about this issue and I am sure you will contribute positively. Keep asking questions as that is the first step towards solving any problem. Women have equal potential and capabilities they just need proper training and right opportunities to utilize their talent, once that starts happening everywhere we will see the real change. Lets hope our efforts will contribute towards bringing that change. Thanks for sharing your views and don't stop asking questions.

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