From sustainable beekeeping tips in Washington State to Death Race bicycling advice in Norcal, SGL blog editors bring you practical tips to make progress through your bucket list. Oftentimes making progress means dealing with resistance from others.
Our Editors, with Associate Editor Erica Tyler taking the lead, invited SmartyGirl Lynn Krug (Guest Reporter for the recent The Moth Story Slam), back to give her personal reaction to the controversial thought-starter “Lean In“. SmartyFellas and SmartyGirls are welcome to chime in below in the comments section.
Chief Operating Officer at Facebook, Sheryl Sandberg, has a lot to teach all of us whether you are new to the work world, or like me have spent 40 plus years in the job force, “Lean In” will shake your world. We can make a difference and here’s how: Sandberg says to take a seat at the table and “Lean In!” In her book along with Nell Scovell, Sandberg embodies the spirit of Bell Hook’s seminal work “Feminism is for Everybody.”
I was admittedly peevish about the book before I read it, because unlike Sheryl Sandberg, I am not in the upper echelon of management, or from a family of privilege. As a single parent for 16+ years I have spent about 26 years of my work life in construction and engineering, so who better than I to know what discrimination results in, feels like and how it exhausts you? Well, “Lean In” reminded me of the stories of Stanford women doctors and engineering staff whose accomplishments have also been devalued for being female.
From my personal perspective, there has been a shift in how feminism is viewed. In the 1970’s the US had programs that actively encouraged women to apply for nontraditional employment and were offered needed support. However, somewhere in the 1980’s/1990’s a shift occurred where encouraging women apply for nontraditional careers was seen less important, so where does that leave women now?
As a founder of “Women in the Workplace”, I worked to try to get women in local government to recruit women into nontraditional labor fields and encourage women to participate. I held professional panels, campaigned women in government, and pitched to students. It was an exhausting endeavor and yet I felt that I did not make a dent. We cannot do this alone. However, I feel reenergized by Sheryl Sandberg’s book “Lean In”!
Sandberg talks about working and planning with your family to include them and get their support. This summer I helped a trade laborer encourage his wife to go back to college for her RN work. I used Sandberg’s argument about having short term goals (three years of college) for long term gain for the family. Sure, they would go into debt for the short term, but what was the next 40 years going to look like? And how can he help his wife with this goal and help make it easier for their family? There will never be a safe or right time, and in the current economy things will not get better unless you take action on your own to prepare for your future.
“Lean In” says men are promoted on potential, while women are promoted based on past experience. As an example, I recently heard of a Senior Management job posting and immediately went to a co-worker in that field, pitched her on the job along with how to prepare for the interview. My co-worker was afraid of the customer service aspects of the position because customers can be unpredictable. However, I stated that as long as she learned guidelines of the position and stuck to the rules and regulations she would be able to do the position.
We have to stop accepting the status quo out of fear. The old stagnating choice to “fit in” will not help any of us. Only by “helping each other to succeed” and making that viable for women (and men) will we all be able to “Lean Forward”. Read “Lean In” – and then give copies to your co-workers, classmates, friends and family. Start the conversation, and act for us all.
Lynn Krug expresses her thanks to Sheryl Sandberg for having the courage to write this book. Krug encourages SmartyFellas and SmartyGirls to read this book and start paying it forward in the workplace.