by Arlavinda Rezqita
Almost two years ago, I came home from my master study graduation ceremony. Still wearing the graduation robe, I checked my mail box and found a package. Ah, a book. I noticed that a good friend of mine sent it as graduation gift. It was : “Lean in : Women, Work, and the Will to Lead”. Yes, that popular book which’s written by Sheryl Sandberg - COO of Facebook and previous Vice President at Google. It’s important book, at least for me. I was carefully reading it while I was in doubt to decide which path I should take after graduation. Between option A or B. Between pursuing a PhD degree or... other thing.
I am not gonna talk much about feminism or whatsoever. Let’s other people who have more capability speak up about it. I just would like to share what’s this book about. It is not only talking about gender biases at the workplace. It’s more than that.
First, she’s talking about opportunity. The first question which triggered me :
“What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”
This leaded me to daydreaming. I came up with list - long lists. Her point is to address the self-doubt that holds many women back to pursue what they’re dreaming. She urges women to shift from thinking ‘I’m not ready to do that’ to thinking ‘I want to do that — and I’ll learn by doing it’. Let me ask you, how many opportunities you missed because you’re afraid?
Second, it’s about changing standard. I recalled myself when I was going for UMPTN or SPMB or whatever it’s called. My chemistry teacher said, “You should go for medical school, because you’re a girl and it’s gonna be easier for you to take care family”. I chose engineering instead. I am not interested in being a medical doctor, and I skipped Biology class most of the time. How many times people asked you to do something what people think right for you but you feel you don’t like it? Sandberg points that the external barriers now are just so much lower. What’s more important is your vision of success and passion.
Third, it’s about work/family balance. 3 out of 11 chapters of the book talk about this issue. Something which always becomes my concern and I guess, for many women out there. Women make important decisions based on future plans for a family, which most of the time withdraw their career options. Her solution: Don’t leave before you leave.
“When it comes time to settle down, find someone who wants an equal partner. Someone who thinks women should be smart, opinionated and ambitious. Someone who values fairness and expects or, even better, wants to do his share in the home. These men exist and, trust me, over time, nothing is sexier.”
Fourth, yes it is about gender biases. Sandberg refers to a study showing that when a man is successful, he is well liked. When a woman does well, people like her less. People look at successful woman somehow “threatening”. Sounds sad, huh?
The further I read the book, the more I got that Sandberg is not only though, intelligent, compassionate, but also witty and likable. As a corporate leader, a mother of two children, a feminist, Sandberg wrote nicely about what women should do, what they should want and how they should behave.