feminism · memoire · non-fiction · Uncategorized

If you’re offered a seat on a rocket ship, don’t ask what seat! Just get on- Sheryl Sandberg








The blog title does look weird. Rather than a short and sweet title, I have given the entire quote from the book- Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead.The quote mentioned in this blog title reminds me of an incident that happened in my real life. I was looking out for a transfer from one work location to another in India after getting married.Apart from internal job transfer request within the company I posted my resume on the job sites with my updated profile along with my newly acquired PMP certificate way back in 2011.Amazingly I had received a call from an HR of a company.I was taken by surprise and ran out of my cubicle to attend this call and was keen to talk about for what role I would be interviewed.I was not happy with the role since I was told that the designation was not framed and the job title might be an analyst. The company had started expanding its operations in that location and they were looking out for people with different job experience and from varied fields and were hiring directly on their payrolls.I denied attending the interview even after receiving two follow-ups after that. It was none other than “Facebook”.I missed a golden opportunity and realized that only in the hindsight of a few years from receiving that call.By the time I started following up, this company had expanded the operations to the fullest and they won’t bother to call me for an interview.Rather I was happy to work as a contractor for one of the products of Google as an assistant manager- product quality.

Earlier this month, I had read an article in the HBR on how to improve the efficiency of reading non-fiction books. The author of the article said that in fiction, the reader needs to get into the shoes of the author to understand the character mentioned therein whereas, in non-fiction, the reader needs to understand the gist of what is being written there.One great tip mentioned was, the reader can watch videos or listen to the podcast of the author regarding the book so that the reading gets faster.As part of non-fiction reading, I chose Lean In as it sounded interesting to me. So I went ahead and watched Ted talk of Sheryl Sandberg where she was interviewed by Pat Mitchell. This caught my interest since Sheryl herself is a feminist and I understood that she had focussed on the leadership roles for women and why women drop out of the career path in order to strike a work-life balance and how vulnerable women are when they are faced with some challenge.
Feminism and I and strongly related. I was very much influenced to portray feminism from my childhood. I used to shout the slogans “Girls are the best and boys are a waste”in my apartment and fight with every guy that denied this slogan. I was brought up by mom as a single parent and as she was frustrated with my dad’s irresponsible attitude, my granddad’s autocratic nature and her brothers dominating the female members of the family, she used to tell several stories that were “anti- male” to my ears and I hated the male gender for a long time and, of course, liked them after I became a teenager and started having crush on the then young Bollywood actors.Even after I started working I used to show more favor towards the girls and the guys on the team were like “My team lead is a feminist”.The reason why I used to support girls was, in spite of girls being pregnant or having period pains they used to slog and work, volunteer for additional responsibilities at work and they were top performers whereas the guys used to leave home after 8 hours and taking long breaks with less productivity and bringing down the team’s efficiency rate.After 5 years, when I started working for Google as a contractor, I became more matured in telling the team that, efficiency will be the only criteria to assess the performance of a team member.This way the team gets to finish all the work soon and go home, I also get some work-life balance and this naturally worked.I did not portray any feminism here but the guys came up with a feedback for me that, I was supporting girls and I couldn’t figure out how since the guys got a better rating as “efficiency” was the only criteria to rate a person. Maybe my DNA displays it.

This book came as a blessing in disguise to me when I look forward to kick-starting work again after a break of 2 years of work due to personal reasons. Two of my previous reporting managers were shocked when I told them that I have resigned to assume a role as a homemaker for some time. They were like, “you can come back to work anytime and we will offer you a job if one is available when you get back”.I was happy to hear that since I know that I have been a hard working professional and have a good feedback about me.
According to me, in this book, Sheryl has represented female gender and she has been a mouth piece for all women here.This book also contains data and facts about several live cases that have happened.This book sounded like a memoire to me about herself and how she had come up so much in life right from her treasury job to a job in silicon valley.This also talks about how much struggle she had to endure in order to keep her personal and professional life in balance. How her parents had thought her and her siblings about the gender equality had how she had been raised by them.She was also lucky enough to have had a good husband who was willing to support her through her career and child rearing phases and sadly he had passed away after this book was published. This book talks about how emotional and grateful she had felt about her husband and what support he had extended to her and she wished that spouse need to cooperate with each other in professional and household activities.She had spoken of the big dream to raise the kids along with her husband which did not happen certainly.

This book is more focused towards women in developed countries where the culture is super open and women get to stand better. I’m not sure whether the guidance or advice provided by her can be extended to countries where there is absolutely no gender equality.Since I’m from India, I can say that though there is no 100% gender equality, India has opened up plenty of avenues for women off-late, and we get to see many women politicians and women in management too.It is also nice to hear that lean -in circles had played good roles in making the women lean in for whatever purpose they want to and voice out their opinions.

I had rated this book 4/5 as I support feminism and apart from me there are many more women who have been stuck in their lives and need help to get off.While reading this book, few times I wondered whether this piece is really applicable for non-C-suite folks and the possibility of everyone to really stretch so much like her and work beyond.Getting into leadership is a matter of choice and be it men or women, they want to do what they need and not everyone wants a corporate life.This book is also not for folks who are in the field of creativity like painting, writing, etc where the pursuit of these things makes a person stress-free life unlike C-Suite folks and also not applicable for people seeking early retirement and want to enjoy life with their families.Of course, the author agrees that she is not a writer and she had written this book based on her own life experiences and women who are unable to raise their voices can benefit apart from the men understanding about shy women.Overall this book is a good read for anyone who wants to understand feminism in the context of corporate life.


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