CBC Radio’s arts and culture program Q with Jian Ghomeshi aired an interview with Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg this morning. Sandberg’s new book, Lean In, advises women to embrace self-confidence. She says more women are needed in roles of power in the workplace so that women can make systemic changes. But to get there, women need to overcome internalized gender stereotypes. She admits to wishing when she was younger that she had the confidence she observed in her brother.
Although Sandberg is receiving lots of criticism for putting the focus on women themselves instead of on the institutions and society in which they find themselves, I find little to argue with here. Maybe I’m getting old and cynical, but more than anything I found the Sandberg interview to be rather bland – another avenue to put her brand forward. (Was it just yesterday that I was embracing branding?) At the conclusion of the interview, Sandberg said she loved her job at Facebook, where millions (or is it billions?) are brought together to share “their authentic selves” (ha, ha, ha, ha, ha), and she actually ended the interview using the phrase “lean in.” Groan.
Self-confidence has never been an issue for me. But I couldn’t find a way to “lean in” when I was a young mother. I’m a GenX sequencer: I do one thing at a time to the best of my ability. I don’t find balance, I don’t multi-task, I don’t do busy-busy-busy ’cause I’m so important-important-important. And I admire the millennial women I know who are doing things their own way with the seemingly carefree disregard for the empty status and prestige that the workplace can confer on a lucky few.
Lean in to the workplace? Of course, as you need, desire, and are able to. But more than anything, tune out to what everyone says, and find out what you’re saying to yourself in the stillness of your depths.