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Archived: Michelle Obama Won't Be 'Leaning In' Anytime Soon

Former First Lady Michelle Obama kept it all the way real on the latest stop of her successful “Becoming” book tour at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center on Saturday. In a moment of full disclosure, Obama expressed the difficulties of “having it all.”


“Leaning in” is a formula that Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg introduced in her 2013 book “Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead.”

The concept of “Leaning In” refers to a philosophy that became a metaphor to argue that women should assert themselves more in the workplace. When Sandberg first presented the theory, it drew controversy for implying that women were holding themselves back from their careers; more recently it’s drawn backlash for not being as effective as Sandberg originally hoped.

Obama weighed on the concept. She gave a frank explanation on the challenges women still face, and even dropped an expletive in the process.

“Marriage still ain’t equal, y’all. It ain’t equal. I tell women, that whole ‘you can have it all’—mmm, nope, not at the same time, that’s a lie,” she said. “It’s not always enough to lean in because that s***t doesn’t work.”

The honest commentary drew a rousing applause from the audience.

She continued: “I thought we were at home, y’all. I was getting real comfortable up in here. All right, I’m back now. Sometimes that stuff doesn’t work.”

Obama expressed, in her opinion, what works and what doesn’t — and that the expectation of “having it all” isn’t always feasible. “That whole ‘so you can have it all.’ Nope, not at the same time,” she said.

Last year, Sandberg admitted that the world was “not better off” when it came to women having leadership roles.

“We are stuck at less than 6% of the Fortune 500 CEO jobs and their equivalent in almost every country in the world,” she said. “There were 19 countries run by women when Lean In was published. Today there are 11. Congressional numbers have inched up a tiny bit. And so, overall, we are not seeing a major increase in female leadership in any industry or in any government in the world, and I think that’s a shame.”

*Reader Question* Do you think women can have it all and keep their sanity Is it easier said than done

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