Sandberg’s ‘Lean In’: Women’s Biggest Barrier to Success? Themselves

Facebook COO’s new book 'Lean In' rekindles debate on equality for women in the workplace.

Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO and author of Lean InWhy are so few women in senior management? According to Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s COO, it’s because women haven’t taken enough responsibility in advocating their own success—and it’s about time they stepped up and got themselves out of this “stalled revolution.” In her newly released book Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Succeed, Sandberg argues that when it comes to climbing the ladder in corporate America, women are their own worst enemies.

“We’ve ceased making progress at the top in any industry anywhere in the world,” Sandberg writes. “In the United States, women have had 14 percent of the top corporate jobs and 17 percent of the board seats for 10 years. Ten years of no progress,” despite the fact that women now earn more bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees than men.

Sandberg’s advice to women? Don’t get a mentor if you want to excel—you need to excel first, then you’ll get a mentor. It’s a philosophy that has sparked a significant debate, especially since her viewpoint relieves many organizations of the responsibility of promoting equality in the workplace and advocating cultural-competence education, writes Barbara Frankel, Senior Vice President and Executive Editor, DiversityInc.

As a woman who has fought for three decades in the workplace for a place at the table … I agree with Sandberg that too many women give up too easily as the challenges of family and work become overwhelming. But her simplistic solution of urging women to take control of themselves and join “Lean In Circles” to bolster each other ignores the reality that most workplace inequities aren’t caused by the victims, but by the institutions and those in power who benefit from continuity.”

Read the rest of Frankel’s reaction to Lean In in this column.

Read these reviews and reactions from other top news outlets—then share your thoughts with us in the comments below:

Sheryl Sandberg Inspired and Offended on 60 Minutes [with video]
Sandberg says she’s not blaming women, but there are a lot more factors to success that women can—and should—control.

SHERYL SANDBERG: Women Need to Get More Comfortable With Power
This overview of Sandberg’s book breaks it down into seven lessons, including “women should not ask for mentors” and “having it all is a myth.”

‘This Week’ Roundtable on Sheryl Sandberg
Do men outnumber women when it comes to ambition for leadership? Panelists discuss controversy surrounding Sandberg’s Lean In.

Lean In, Read On: 21 Perspectives on Sheryl Sandberg’s Book
Sandberg is a “PowerPoint Pied Piper in Prada ankle books,” wrote Maureen Dowd, New York Times columnist and Pulitzer Prize recipient.

10 Things Sheryl Sandberg Gets Exactly Right In Lean In
Despite criticism, you can’t ignore that Sandberg hits the nail on the head: Men still rule the world.

Gen-Y Responds to Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In
What do 20-something’s think about Sandberg’s book? Here are some first-hand responses on Lean In.

Sheryl Sandberg: On a Mission to Elevate Women
Is Sandberg too rich, too successful to lead a women’s movement? The Facebook COO won’t back down despite criticism.

Facebook’s Sandberg Says Women’s Revolution Has Stalled
CBS News’ Norah O’Donnell interviews Sandberg.

60 Minutes: Sandberg on Mentoring
Sandberg details the insecurities she still has about her success and about the mentors she had along the way.

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