I have recently read Sheryl Sandberg’s book ‘Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead’, a book about empowering women in the work place and making them more equal but could I learn from what she wrote?
As a female web designer the majority of teams I have worked in have been dominated by men. I have worked with a few of women but they have been few and far between in my profession and have worked for even less. The one woman who I worked for who had got far in her profession was clever, strong and exceptionally good at her job however she acted very masculine.
I often wondered if this was the cost of getting ahead in my chosen profession, sacrificing my femininity for the sake of my career and so, when I started to read the book initially it struck a chord.
Sadly the more I read on the more disappointed I became. This to me did not strike me as a guide to bringing equality to my own work place but a book on how to be like Sheryl Sandberg which was something at times she didn’t even seem to know with contradictory statements a plenty.
I haven’t felt at any point in my career that I have been held back, discourage or overlooked because of my sex. Despite working in a predominantly male environment I have thrived as much as I felt possible without sacrificing who I am as a woman.
I have plenty of strong men to look up to regarding careers, my father being a constant reminder of what I can achieve with hard work and determination and the numerous managers I have worked for that have helped to encourage and develop my career.
Surely it doesn’t matter that they aren’t women. It shouldn’t matter that I am one but does it? Sheryl seemed to think so.
What I felt Sheryl did was give general career advice, which was really useful, but passed it off as being for women by describing some general ‘attributes’ us ladies have and why we need to change our ways of thinking.
In fact at times it was rather disparaging to the female sex making sweeping generalisations as to our failings, with concepts such as women generally want to be liked so find it hard to go against the grain.
I hope that in future things will change, that I will work in a more equal environment more for the balance I will get. If things don’t change though I don’t think this will affect me or my career. After all it is down to the individual to determine their career not the characteristics of their sex.