Lean In Summary & Study Guide

Sheryl Sandberg
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Lean In Summary & Study Guide Description

Lean In Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Topics for Discussion on Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg.

“Lean In” by Sheryl Sandberg is a non-fiction work that chronicles the struggles of women in the workplace – past and present – in facing the challenges and barriers that they encounter in the form of gender-bias. The author provides rich examples and anecdotes from her own career and experiences as well as those of female colleagues, staff members and friends and acquaintances. Sandberg also sites a number of research studies that back up the claims of gender-bias with the obvious conclusion that sexism is not the fantasy of women and that it’s alive and well in today’s workforce.

Sheryl grew up in a stable home with loving parents who supported her and believed in her abilities. Yet her brother was more confident in his abilities than she was. She would sulk over a disappointment and blame herself, while her brother blamed circumstances for any setback and go off and play basketball. Even as a young girl, the difference between how she and her brother viewed themselves and the world was already setting in.

Sheryl Sandberg is a successful business woman who rose to a leadership role at a young age at Google after having worked for the federal government in the Treasury Department. After six years at Google, she was approached by Facebook for an executive position. After multiple interviews with Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, she was offered the position of Chief Operating Officer. Her husband and brother-in-law urged her to negotiate. They would not take the first offer for such a high-level position. Zuckerberg would expect her to negotiate. But Sheryl reminded them that they were men and so was Mark. She was a woman and afraid to negotiate. What if he turned her down? She would have lost the opportunity of a lifetime.

In the end, Sheryl reluctantly took her husband’s advice and turned down Facebook’s initial offer and made a counter-proposal. It was white-knuckle time at her house for a few days but Zuckerberg called and agreed to her terms. She was the new COO of Facebook a multi-billion dollar corporation that was new and still growing. One would think she would no longer have any doubts about her value or abilities, but that wasn’t the case. She was a woman in the hostile corporate world. Although Facebook itself was forward thinking and its policies reflected no gender-bias, rules and regulations do not erase the hard-baked sentiments of others. Sheryl still deals with gender-bias even from her lofty position.

Sheryl Sandberg describes the bias that women in all levels of the corporate world face on an everyday basis. From their first interview, women in the workplace are treated differently than men, and as a result they behave differently. A woman feels qualified for a job if she has 100 percent of the requirements. A man is good to go if he has 60 percent of the requirements. During annual reviews, focus is on a woman’s likability and loyalty and on a man’s performance. Sheryl has often noticed at meetings that men interrupt and talk over women who are speaking. Sheryl, as COO, has had this same experience while speaking at company meetings. Although there are more women in entry-level positions, more men are elevated to management and executive positions. Women are more likely to have stagnant career or give up their ambitions and leave the work force. When a woman has a baby, it is a whole new set of challenges for women. Even though working men are the fathers of newborns, the events have no impact on their careers. The contrast between how women are men are treated in the workplace by colleagues, subordinates and managers exposes gender-bias in every element of their careers.

Sheryl Sandberg ends her book with a plea for women, men, employers and families to all strive to eradicate gender-bias from the workplace. She urges women to aspire to leadership roles in the government and in all fields. Until that level of leadership is acquired by women, true change will not happen. When change finally happens, the world will be a better place for everyone.

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