27 Mar 2013

Book Review: Lean In - Sheryl Sandberg

Wife and husband, they entered their house after a long gruelling day. “God, I’m exhausted” said the man. The woman, without batting an eyelid, entered the kitchen. She cleaned up the kitchen and the rest of the scattered house. By the time she started getting ready for bed, half an hour had passed and her husband was already snoring.

I read her speech at Harvard. I heard her TED talk. Both were spectacular. So when I saw her book Lean In as a new launch on Random House Publications, I knew I had to get my hands on one. So I did!

Sheryl Sandberg (COO of Facebook) has found her calling, her higher purpose. She wants to make the world (mainly us men) aware of the hardships women go through at work and at home. She exhorts women to tide over them and have faith that they can do it all [though asking for (no, demanding) a little help is always useful].

Sheryl has not written this book to count her accolades or blow her own trumpet (she does admit though, that it’s necessary to blow your trumpet in today’s world). In fact, she sheds light on how her life progressed right from school (where she wasn’t athletically oriented) to the present day. She states that during her pregnancy days, it was her husband who pointed out that pregnant women had reserved parking spaces at Yahoo. Until then, even Sheryl hadn’t given it much of a thought, while pregnant women before her must have silently suffered. She still has women coming up to her who say they want to give up a promising career because they want to start a family. It’s nothing new that women are the gender that is always ready to make sacrifices for their partners; vice versa is generally unheard of. Sheryl encourages women to go against the stereotype if they choose. Believe that they are worth more and focus on their careers instead of feeling guilty that they're bad mothers for not spending more time with their kids.
Lean In - Sheryl Sandberg

The author has dedicated an entire chapter to the importance of having a partner sharing responsibilities at home. Sheryl had a very difficult first child delivery. In fact, she pulled a tendon after delivery and had to walk on crutches for the next 8 days. The bright side for her was that her husband learned how to change the baby’s diapers before her. She’s really happy to have found a supportive partner in him, who actively participates in taking care of the kids and helps in household work too, apart from being an entrepreneur. She cites examples of friends where fathers are just as involved (if not more) in child rearing and domestic chores. Studies say that children in those households develop fastest. There is not much of a difference between children whose mothers stay at home or are working. But actively involved fathers certainly boost their children’s development.

There’s nothing I don’t like about this book. This is Sheryl’s first attempt at writing a book; this is her facing her fears (she wouldn’t have written a book otherwise); this is her trying to bring about a change; this is her leaning in. I spoke to a few women praising her resolve. The women retorted that it’s easy to do something like this once you’re a CXO or something. That’s not the point. Sheryl had this resolve of trying to make things better for women since long. It’s the person’s character that matters, not the designation or power.

Sheryl believes that equality in both genders will not only be reached when there are more women leaders in the corporate, but also when men share 50% of the household work. Good point. A mere 5% of the Fortune 500 companies are headed by women. This skewed statistic has to change. Just like whites were needed to support the revolution for rights of Afro – Americans, men must support the revolution to empower women. But more importantly, women must believe they are worth more. This book is a must read for men and women alike. I used to think that I won’t let my wife work after we have kids. After reading this book, I feel a change; one which will ensure I support women in whatever they want to do regardless of their circumstances. Thank you for sending me this book, Random House Inc.


  1. Hi Vishal

    Some decisions are based on circumstances. Simple rule is 'What works for one, may not work with the other. When one decides to juggle multiple roles, another might decide to concentrate on one'. Whatever it is society needs to respect the decision taken by each and every woman or for that matter family.

    And tip for you - "I won’t let my wife work after we have kids" . If you say 'I wont let you' that would enrage any woman, its like you are deciding on their behalf. But 'I would be at peace if you take care of the kids full time' may have a more positive impact :D

    1. Great points raised by you Jaishree (hope I've spelt your name correctly). Will keep them in mind :)

  2. I have seen my mother has struggled lot, fighting for everything, everything that a man has to do when my father wasn't even in hometown. It's very common social issue and mostly get ignored in society. I strongly hate statement that usually said among Maharashtrian people "Chul ani mul". Definitely author raises a valid point.

    1. Thanks Atul... Yes, women go through a tough life... It's upon us men to support them and make life easier for them... What say?

  3. Hi Vishal,

    I just have a question about your site - If you could please email me back when you get a chance I'd greatly appreciate it.




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