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A Step Back Does Sheryl Sandberg's philosophy apply to all of us Lean In Perc Talk ANOKHI Magazine May 2015


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A Step Back Does Sheryl Sandberg's philosophy apply to all of us Lean In Perc Talk ANOKHI Magazine May 2015

  1. 1. ”“ DoesSheryl Sandberg’s Lean-Inphilosophy apply to all of us? BY LORI BOSWORTH A Step Back It depends on the particular woman and her perspective of what ‘it all’ means. I believe I have it all. - Nisha TAP HERE TO CHECK OUT: Ten South Asian Inspirational Women Of Today BLOG MAY 2015 | THE HOME & TRAVEL ISSUE54 percolator talk
  2. 2. ”“Facebook’s chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, sent ripples throughout the corporate world when she published her New York Times bestseller Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead. The book argues that women need to “lean in” to power circles at work as opposed to shying away from aggressively pursuing opportunities for advancement. Sandberg argues that women are preprogrammed to believe it’s wrong for them to lead and says they should consider opportunities even if they don’t feel qualified for them. But does the Lean In queen’s philosophy apply to all of us? Anne Marie Slaughter, one of Sandberg’s vocal opponents, doesn’t think so. “The women who have managed to be both mothers and top professionals are superhuman, rich or self-employed,” she wrote in The Atlantic. Another question is, does Sandberg’s manifesto apply across all cultures? In the South Asian community, women are often required to support aging family members while cultural expectations may put pressure on women to be stay-at-home moms. And while the Lean In movement may be commended for encouraging women to pursue opportunities they may otherwise not have considered, does the philosophy risk alienating those women who choose not to “lean in” for their own reasons? Will women who reject Lean In be labelled unambitious or traditional? (Like Jessica Williams was recently castigated on Twitter when she dared to tweet that she didn’t feel she was qualified enough to take over the hosting duties from Jon Stewart on The Daily Show.) *Nisha is a 38-year-old single woman who travels 30 to 50 per cent of her time for her job as an executive for an international cosmetics company. She resists the notion that women can have it all, at least not without concessions. Nisha doesn’t have children but she financially supports and is the sole caregiver for her mother who has been ill for several years. “It is incredibly difficult to have it all without foregoing in one area or another,” she says. “It depends on the particular woman and her perspective of what ‘it all’ means. I believe I have it all.” Nisha does admit, however, that the responsibility to pay for her mother’s care is a large reason that she is staying in her career. “If I wasn’t tied to a pay cheque, I would much rather not work at all, give my time to charity, but one has to work,” she says. Nisha says she would quit her job if she had children. She says she would stay home with her children while they were young and “once they reached ages three to five, I would overlap [childrearing] with a part-time job to give me inspiration and allow me to be a mom,” she says. *Priya, a 43-year-old married woman with three children, spent 10 years working as a chartered accountant and juggled work and childcare for a while before choosing to stay home. The couple put their children in daycare and, at other times, hired a nanny and Priya would make sure she was home by 5:30 p.m. to be with the children, often taking work home with her to complete later in the evening. But when her third child was born, Priya became a stay-at-home mom. “I was looking for a balance between work and home life,” she says. “I travelled for work and I didn’t want to miss out on their childhood.” When asked if she was viewed as someone doubting her own self-worth because she chose to leave her job and be a stay-at-home mom, Priya says, “I never felt that people doubted my self-worth. I did feel that, from time to time, some people thought I should have continued working because they knew that I enjoyed it and that I added value.” In response to Lean In, Priya says, “I believe women shouldn’t be forced into it if they are not ready. Some women want more of a balance.” She admits that even though she believes she had it all while working with kids, it was not a perfect situation. “I found there was always more to do at work and there was always more to do at home,” she says. “But it’s about finding the right balance.” Priya also believes she was fortunate because she had already “proven herself” at work and her colleagues included many mothers and fathers who were primary caregivers so it wasn’t a problem when she had to leave work early to deal with children’s appointments. In fact, workplace flexibility is one area that Sandberg focuses on in her book. Sandberg points out the importance of workplace flexibility and emphasizes flexible workplace schedules with accessible child care and implanting policies with regards to parental leave, urging women to “insist their partners do more parenting and housework.” *Karima is a 41-year-old professional engineer, married with two children. During her second maternity leave, Karima realized that she preferred being a working mom to a stay-at-home mom. “I was tired of being concerned with only child care activities,” she says. A very flexible work arrangement and the daily support of a nanny allows her to work from home over 90 per cent of the time and her husband watches the children when she travels for work which is up to 25 per cent of the time. “I do have to leave work for drop-offs and pick-ups for my children’s activities and doctor’s appointments,” she says admitting that not getting as much sleep as she would like puts her at a disadvantage. She is also aware that there are projects at work that require more travel and that those higher profile projects could lead to a promotion. “That is the trade- off,” Karima says. “I’m not superwoman; I’m not a perfect mother or a perfect wife. I spend less time directly interacting with my children than stay-at-home mothers.” Karima believes Sandberg’s Lean In philosophy “makes a lot of sense” at the conceptual level, but “the execution of Lean In has been less than ideal. I’ve read criticisms of Lean In that call it anti-feminist.” After reading the book, she says, she didn’t get the impression that “it is advocating that women should have it all. The book says life is about a trade-off. The book states this is not for every woman,” she adds. When it comes to “having it all” Priya notes, “I actually do believe that women can have it all — but people’s definition of ‘having it all’ can vary. For me, my definition has changed throughout my life and has been informed by my own life experiences.” ä * Names have been changed for the article. I’m not superwoman; I’m not a perfect mother or a perfect wife. I spend less time directly interacting with my children than stay-at-home mothers. - Karima percolator talk ANOKHIMEDIA.COM 55