by EHP on Wednesday, March 13, 2013
The saturating media coverage of Sheryl Sandberg, and her new book, Lean In have left me feeling a little guilty and a little confused. Like a splinter, something about her message lodged and irritated, and I wasn’t quite sure why. And then I read this post on Penelope Trunk’s blog.
In her post, Ms. Trunk, blogger, career coach, homeschooling mother, says, “I am doing a life that she [Sandberg] would hate” and feels bad she doesn’t measure up to Sheryl Sandberg’s stratospheric standard. Me too. (For those who have missed the barrage of media, Sandberg argues that women should aim high towards big careers and positions of power; they need not cut back and slow track themselves.)
The problem is, I never wanted the big corporate or government position. Ms. Sandberg might see this as downshifting before starting. I see it as normal for someone who seeks time for friends, family, creativity and contemplation. Doubtless, there are other women like me: those who aspire to be teachers, artists, botanists, therapists, among others. Are they all guilty of self-sabotage or downshifting?
Ms. Sandberg's analysis of women and workplace issues shifts much of the burden onto women themselves. Thus, inspiring that vague guilty feeling. Those women who don’t push forward against the glass ceiling become part of the problem and those who do push forward, but fail, appear to have not tried hard enough.
Ms. Sandberg is an amazing, accomplished individual. I hope many women and girls benefit from her "You can do it!" message. I feel happy to live in a time and place where she, and women like her, can succeed so visibly and vibrantly. Yet, her life cannot be for everybody. Some women might not want it; others might not be so lucky.