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Lean In

Women, Work, and the Will to Lead

By Sheryl Sandberg
18-minute read
Audio available
Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg

Through a combination of entertaining anecdotes, solid data and practical advice, Lean In (2013) examines the prevalence of and reasons for gender inequality both at home and at work. It encourages women to lean into their careers by seizing opportunities and aspiring to leadership positions, as well calling on both men and women to acknowledge and remedy the current gender inequalities.

  • Anyone interested in understanding and remedying inequality at work
  • Anyone who struggles with the challenges and expectations of combining a career with family
  • Anyone – female or male – looking for solid career advice

Sheryl Sandberg is the chief operating officer of Facebook and formerly a vice president at Google as well as the chief of staff of US Secretary of the Treasury, Larry Summers. In 2011, she was ranked the fifth most powerful woman in the world by Forbes.

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Lean In

Women, Work, and the Will to Lead

By Sheryl Sandberg
  • Read in 18 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 11 key ideas
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Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg
Synopsis

Through a combination of entertaining anecdotes, solid data and practical advice, Lean In (2013) examines the prevalence of and reasons for gender inequality both at home and at work. It encourages women to lean into their careers by seizing opportunities and aspiring to leadership positions, as well calling on both men and women to acknowledge and remedy the current gender inequalities.

Key idea 1 of 11

Women are still conspicuously absent from leadership positions, partially due to the leadership ambition gap.

Nowhere is gender inequality more evident than in leadership positions: Just 20% of parliament seats globally are held by women, and only 4% of Fortune 500 CEOs are women.

These figures are striking because in the realm of academic achievement, women, on average, fare better than men, earning 57% of all undergraduate degrees and 60% of master’s degrees in the U.S. Yet, somehow this flood of competent women entering the workforce becomes a trickle by the time they reach the leadership level.

Many factors contribute to this phenomenon, but one of the most important is the leadership ambition gap. Studies show that men are more ambitious and more likely to want to become executives than women. Why?

Gender stereotypes are one driver: Women are not expected to be ambitious and career-oriented, and those who violate these expectations can be labeled as “bossy” or worse. These stereotypes, enforced since childhood, can pressure women to temper their career goals.

Similarly, whereas most men automatically assume they can have both fulfilling personal lives and successful careers, women are constantly told by society and the media that eventually, they will have to make compromises between career and family. This often results in women being less committed to their careers and leaving the workforce to care for their children. Surveys of Yale and Harvard Business School alumni found that some 20 years after graduating, only half the women were employed full-time compared to 90% of the men. With such a mass exodus of highly-educated women from the workforce, it is little wonder that a leadership gap exists.

Women are still conspicuously absent from leadership positions, partially due to the leadership ambition gap.

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