There’s a lot of advice online for working mums, and much of it can seem quite repetitive at times: manage your time, try working from home, become a blogger… if only everyone was made the same or had the same dreams and aspirations in life.
The Mothers Who Work Team were able to listen to the audiobook, compliments of Audible, which really brings it to life. It’s refreshing to listen a book that comes from a different perspective; and that’s where ‘Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead‘ by Sheryl Sandberg ticks all the right boxes. One of the first things you’ll learn about this feisty, but surprisingly normal working mum is that she requested parking spaces for expectant mums when she worked for Yahoo – and got it. That sets the tone for what to expect when reading the book.
“Careers are a jungle gym, not a ladder,” according to Sandberg. If you’re a working mum, you’ll know all too well (or will soon find out!) that the journey up the proverbial career ladder is often not a straight one. At the start of your career, it can be quite straightforward: work hard, go for promotion; work a little harder, get another promotion; change jobs; rinse and repeat. Add a maternity leave or three, and things start to get messy. Time away from work can see male colleagues who were at your level (or below) suddenly shoot past you. It’s a reality that many working mums have to deal with in the workplace. And let’s not even go into the gender pay gap argument.
Lean In is a must-read for all working mums. Like no other book for working women, Sandberg (a high-profile exec of Facebook fame) discusses the issues that many women shy away from in the workplace. You’ll find yourself nodding profusely as you grace each chapter of the book.
While she may have a highflying career and a CV that many working mums would chew her hand off for, Sheryl is honest about not having it all: “I have never met a woman, or man, who stated emphatically, “Yes, I have it all.'” Because no matter what any of us has—and how grateful we are for what we have—no one has it all.”
This isn’t a book that just confirms everything you thought you already knew about your working life and that of other mums you know, but she cuts to the bone. In life, if you don’t ask, you don’t get. It really is as simper as that. So why are we so often afraid to ask? Our male counterparts go a step further and demand, but we are often seen as aggressive if we ask. This is tied to the traditional role of women, and Sandberg does well to describe how this has been passed down from generation to generation. In her own words, Sandberg states: “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.”
Sandberg talks about the impact that confidence has on a woman’s ability to strive. She cites research that shows how men and women take a knock back differently, and how important it is to have a Lean In Circle of like-minded professionals at the same level as each other, who can encourage each other and be a listening ear. She’s so passionate about this, that she even has a website that provides some resources to create one.
Listen to Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, by Sheryl Sandberg on Audible.