*Can women achieve true equality in the workplace?
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This month’s Women in Parking newsletter includes a review of Sheryl Sandberg’s 2013 book Lean In. Sandberg examines why women?s progress in achieving leadership roles has stalled, explaining the root causes, and offering compelling, commonsense solutions that can empower women to achieve their full potential. For example, why is it that thirty years after women became 50 per cent of the college graduates in the United States, men still hold the vast majority of leadership positions in government and industry?
Sandberg is the chief operating officer of Facebook and is ranked on Fortune?s list of the 50 Most Powerful Women in Business and as one of Time?s 100 Most Influential People in the World. In 2010, she gave a much applauded talk at the Technology, Entertainment, Design conference in which she described how women unintentionally hold themselves back in their careers. Her talk, which became an internet phenomenon, encouraged women to ?sit at the table,? seek challenges, take risks, and pursue their goals with gusto.
Sandberg explains that women?s voices are still not heard equally in the decisions that most affect our lives. InLean In, Sandberg combines personal anecdotes, hard data, and compelling research to cut through the layers of ambiguity and bias surrounding the lives and choices of working women. She recounts her own decisions, mistakes, and daily struggles to make the right choices for herself, her career, and her family. For example, Sandberg discusses ?Project Whale? referring to the day she walked into the Google founders? office and demanded parking for expectant mothers. All parties admitted they had never thought about it before and that expectant mothers before her at Google must have suffered in silence. The book goes on to say that if women want to achieve true equality in the workplace we cannot be afraid to voice our ideas and that we can?t be afraid to sit at the table. When the situation demands your attention and is uncomfortable, that you lean in and not shy away. A lack of self-confidence, says Sandberg, can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Sandberg provides practical advice on negotiation techniques, mentorship, and building a satisfying career, urging women to set boundaries and to abandon the myth of ?having it all.?? She describes specific steps women can take to combine professional achievement with personal fulfilment and demonstrates how men can benefit by supporting women in the workplace and at home.
The book inspires women to reach their best potential, to find empowerment in the world around you and to not worry about what society says is the right thing for a woman to do in the workplace. With chapters titled ?It?s a Jungle Gym, Not a Ladder? and ?Make your Partner a Real Partner,? Sandberg gives real life examples and advice on how to make the transformation into a more confident woman. The book is a true eye opener and exposes how our society and many of us are still guilty of following old habits.