Monday, April 1, 2013
More on "Leaning In"
I really wanted to love it, and I did love a lot of it. I saw so much of my experience as a working woman reflected back to me. I saw the struggles and the highlights, both with Sandberg's experiences on the home front and at work. I practically nodded my head off in recognition of the truths there.
And I felt sad. I wanted to cry when I finished it. I thought that I was just tired, that I'd feel better in the morning, but it's been a few days since then and I'm not feeling much better. I'm sad because these situations just suck sometimes. It is *hard* being a working woman, and honestly, it's not that much easier to be a working man. If I've learned anything from The Having It All Project so far, it's that no one has it particularly easy managing all that they'd like to get out of life. And so I felt sad that it's not as simple as trusting my instincts and acting accordingly, that it's too complicated and that I can't just believe in good people to make the right decisions on my behalf.
I felt sad that I haven't encountered as many women as Sheryl Sandberg seems to in her career. For all of the male-domination of Silicon Valley, she had plenty of examples of women to draw upon, doing both the right and the wrong things. I don't interact with as many women in my role, especially within my own department, and even as a friend and I work to assemble a Lean In group of sorts for our own, neither of us seems to know that many women like me.
I felt sad that daycare is so expensive that it doesn't make financial sense for more women to work. I felt sad that daycare employees don't make very much money. I felt sad that "working mom" got redefined as "career-loving parent" when so many working friends aren't so in "love" with their particular careers. I felt sad that women had to be told that it's okay to feel a little dissatisfied and strive for something more despite how many choices are technically already open to us. And sad that I had to use the word "technically" in that last sentence.
I wanted to feel inspired, and I have to admit that I feel a bit defeated. The odds seem stacked higher than ever now. No wonder women haven't been able to achieve more, given all of the inherent biases we face. At 12:30 am on a Saturday night, it all seemed insurmountable.
But there's another angle I didn't consider in the still of the night. I don't really want to give up, and it's not really in my personality to just take things as they are. I'm not sure "leaning in" is the solution to everything, but it does shed light on a lot of important points. We do need more equality at home. We do need more people to realize that just because a woman is successful, it doesn't have to mean she's an aggressive bitch. And while it's not easy to talk about these changes, it's critical that we do so. I plan to keep discussing them here, and pushing the limits in my own career. Enough of the pity party. Who's with me?