Lean In, Chin Up and Tune Out
I am proud to be a participant in the Lean In blog carnival today at MomsRising.org
I’ve been thinking a lot about women and our place in society the last couple of weeks. This is appropriate, as it is Women’s History Month and was kicked off at PBS with “Makers,” a three-hour documentary on the “second-wave” women’s movement.I sat down to watch it last weekend and was enthralled. I am old enough to remember all the events portrayed in the film, but was too young at the time to grasp the significance of the earlier events. And while I happily recognize that we’ve “come a long way,” I am terribly sad and frustrated that we’re not even close to achieving true equality.
If we were truly equal, the fuss over Marissa Mayers’ no-telecommuting directive at Yahoo! would have been focused on the protests of ALL affected employees, instead of just the mothers. And Sheryl Sandberg would not have needed to advise young women to “Lean In” to get ahead in the workplace.
The website for Sandberg’s new Lean In community states that they are “committed to offering women the ongoing inspiration and support to help them achieve their goals” and that “if we talk openly about the challenges women face and work together, we can change the trajectory of women and create a better world for everyone.”
I see nothing wrong with that and I applaud Sandberg for whipping up support to solve a problem. But I also understand why there’s been so much criticism of the effort as one that isn’t going to help the majority of women in the workforce — because most of us are not or will ever be on the executive track. We just need to support our families.
The way I see it, our unequal state in society is too big a problem to be tackled by just one initiative. The glass ceiling is real, as is the perception that some successful women don’t do much to help the younger women who follow. Sandberg’s book and support group may help put that issue to rest.
But that is just one tiny part of a huge problem that is somewhat invisible, even to women ourselves — until we give birth to our first child. That’s when we discover how widely our national policies veer away from our political rhetoric. It seems like the more lawmakers talk about “family values,” the less likely they are to vote for policies that support the families they supposedly care about.