Raise Your Hand If You’re Tired of Leaning In

sandburg lean in book
Image via Nicole Hempeck

I may be a little late to the game, but I am beyond tired of reading about Lean In; the book and social movement manifesto from Facebook’s chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg. Let me rephrase because I need to widen my scope a little bit: I’m beyond tired of hearing from the “Corporate Mother.”

The “Corporate Mother” is the type of lady that’s “doing it all.” She’s a media darling that writes a book or skips maternity leave to run a once thriving company to save it from sinking. She has millions in the bank, a nursery next to her office and is home, every day, at 5 pm to have dinner with her children. She has a supportive husband at home and, by golly, she’s just wonderful! The New Woman! The type of mother we should all want to be!

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Well, that’s what the magazine covers and interviews suggest: that regular mothers and women are flatlining and it’s up to the likes of Sheryl Sandberg and Marissa Mayer to save us from ourselves.

I never thought that I would get tired of hearing a woman talk about empowering other women. I’ve done my fair share of studying the subject: I have a degree in women’s studies, so I spent the better part of what felt like forever discussing and writing, reading and analyzing data about why it is women are underrepresented in board rooms, political offices, and the like. 

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What stings the most, at least to me, is that Sandberg uses data and anecdotes that should empower women, but instead turns into a game of “gotcha.” 

For Marissa Mayer’s employees, it must have been beyond awkward to work at Yahoo and have your work-at-home contract cut while your CEO opted out of maternity leave and then built – with her own money – a nursery next to her office.

I don’t begrudge corporate women like Sandberg and Mayer their success, but success is in the eye of the beholder; it’s not a one-size-fits-all cap especially when three-quarters of women are left out of the equation. Plus, when we still live in a world where girls need a hero and boys get to be one, it goes without saying that pointing the finger at women for not raising their hands enough is simplistic at best and infuriating at its worst. 

And, for the record, I can’t stand Facebook either. 

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What do you think?

Raise Your Hand If You’re Tired of Leaning In

Liz Henry is the irreverent voice behind the award-winning blog The Six Year Itch. She lives with her daughter and her partner, Slasher, in Philadelphia. That's not his real name and that's not her real hair color. Her soft middle is totally real. Liz graduated summa cum lazy with a degree in English literature, which means she knows how to write properly, but rarely does. She loves Harry Potter and Luna is her favorite. ... More

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3 comments

  1. It’s definitely going to get a different response from different people. I know a few on the EF_Team are reading it – we’ll have to let you know what we think. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  2. Kate says:

    I’m wondering if the author actually read Lean In, or just the articles that criticize it. I think Sheryl Sandberg’s take on work, family and life in general was pretty inspirational…she acknowledges that she isn’t successfully "doing it all," and that it’s unreasonable to think that anyone could. She also acknowledges upfront that this book is not for everyone – so if you’re not interested in excelling in your profession, I wouldn’t recommend it. Give it a chance, though, if you’re looking for some insights from a successful female business leader.

  3. i think there’s something to be said for being more laid back and not doing it all..

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