I am always skeptical about books written by celebrities. Usually, I do not buy books which became bestsellers because of author’s well-known name and expensive promotion campaign rather than the real value of the book. It was good decision to borrow Lean In from company’s library rather than to buy it. Like I expected…the book is simply disappointing.
Lean In is about need for social and structural changes to fights against inequality between men and women in a workplace. Sheryl Sandberg tells women to change their behavior and to believe in themselves, if they want to succeed in their professional life.
While Lean In is very readable book and includes references to many important studies on women in work market, it has serious flaws and does not deserve the praise it gets. Despite Sandberg’s position, experience and knowledge she did not succeed with this publication. What she offers is self-gratification and call for social and structural changes without suggestions how to introduce them. She created a long list of “we should”, “we must”, “we can” without explaining how to change people’s behaviors. I guess many of us have long list of should- be- done things, but we do not become best-selling authors. Sandberg became one because of her celebrity status. I could not believe when I was reading review of Lean In in one of “reputable” newspapers; the author was praising Sandberg like she was a writer of the decade!
She graduated from Harvard, worked for American government, then for Google, and currently she is a chief operating officer of Facebook. She says she wants to transform the role of women in the workplace. With all due respect, what does she know about situation of average woman in the workplace? Does she have any idea what life looks like when you are not graduated from Harvard, you do not have millions on your bank account, and you do not work for Google Schmoogle or Facebook? There is a huge rift between her, the privileged and rich, and women around the world who need to fight like lions to succeed in their lives. Sandberg reveals that she got admitted to Harvard not because of her intellect but personality. Well, maybe her personality made her successful at Harvard but it did not help her to write avaluable book.
For me, Lean In is about Sandberg’s privileged and fabulous life, perfect husband, and prestigious companies she have worked for. She did not meet my expectations, she was not even close to that. How she wants to change the workplace for women, while she is unable to offer any practical advice for working women? Sure we “should”, “must” and “can” a lot but the question is how to do this???
What really surprised me is that she never mentioned how she became such a successful woman. When I was reading the book I was thinking that her life was so easy: she got to Harvard, then worked for government, Google and Facebook. Why she did tell us about her struggle? What was her way to do all of this? Or, maybe it is all about being privileged. You get everything so easily and then you cannot even explain your fight because there wasn’t any fight actually. Maybe that is why the book lacks of depth; it is just simply superficial.
I believe she has good intentions and vision of change but she does not have the slightest idea how to introduce the social and structural changes into life.
I want Sandberg to consider all reviews and comments and rewrite the book after few years. If she really wants to transform workplace for women so instead of making long list of wishes, she should propose the solutions. So many women admire and respect her, she should not disappoint them.
And a few words as a conclusion. What is really annoying is that there are so many female writers who actually have something important to say and they do not get enough attention. We live in the world of celebrities, where nobody cares about those who are wise and smart. People cherish what is shallow and what doesn’t have any value. Actually, it is not annoying, it is pathetic.