Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead - Literary Analysis Essay

Paper Type:  Literature review
Pages:  7
Wordcount:  1900 Words
Date:  2023-03-13


Lean in: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead is a book authored by Nell Scovell and Sheryl Sandberg. The authors mostly address issues pertaining to women, and a lot of feminist opinions are given throughout the book. In the first three chapters of the book, the authors the issue of gender and work experience, and how the two elements directly affect women. There are several examples regarding the challenges that women face at work, how men and women are different, and the overall topic of gender and leadership (Sandburg & Scovell, 2013). The primary goal of this essay is to critically analyze the first three chapters of the book Lean in: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead as they relate to gender and one experience.

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One of the most significant issues discussed in the first chapters is discrimination, sexual harassment of women, and sexism in the workplace. Sandberg insists that there is insufficient accessibility to child care and the granting of parental leaves. Women with children often face the most challenging than the rest since they are overwhelmed with responsibilities both at work and at home. Therefore, they must find a balance between the two, a task that is difficult, but many companies and organizations ignore it (Sandburg & Scovell, 2013). When the demands of work conflict with those of mothering, it becomes challenging to equally compete for high ranking jobs with men with the same experience and expertise. Sandberg explains how challenging it is to raise children and work hard at the same time. The chapters contain the author's life experience as she explains how she tried to balance life and raise children at home. In the opening of the book, Sandberg explains her experience regarding her first pregnancy. She continued working hard despite challenges like gaining weight and having swollen feet.

Sandberg explains that women often face harder choices than men, and sometimes, they are left with no option but to quit. The most significant dilemma that women face is that between professionalism and their careers and their personal growth and development. For instance, women usually have a desire for personal fulfillment than their male counterparts and may quit their jobs and careers prematurely. One of the situations that may lead a woman to quit her career is family planning, which often leads to closed doors and other doors closed. However, the case is different for men since most of them do not sacrifice their careers to raise children or take care of their families. The society has made it seem like women are the only people who should prioritize the child-bearing responsibilities and give up work.

The issue of the inequality of men and women in the workplace is also a significant issue in the first three chapters of the book. According to Sandberg, men still run the world, even with the rise of women in higher positions in various organizations across the country. The author cites statistics by indicating that there are only twenty-two women out of the total 197 heads of states (Sandburg & Scovell, 2013). The matter on who holds leadership position is directly related to the discussion on the intersection between gender and leadership. The second fact that the author mentions is that among the 500 leading organizations by revenue, only twenty-one are headed by women and the rest by men (Sandburg & Scovell, 2013). Thirdly, according to Sandburg and Scovell (2013), in the political arena, only 18%of congress leaders are women.

Important Issues in the Book


In the fifth chapter of the book, Sandberg addresses the issue of mentors as a primary concern. According to the author, women often look for mentors for guidance, but it is not a brilliant idea. The mentality that a woman needs guidance in various aspects of her life creates unnecessary dependency on others. The comparison made is that a woman looking for a mentor is similar to the one waiting for a perfect man to marry often regarded to as "prince charming." According to Sandberg, it is not necessary to go out and search for a mentor since such people with great advice will naturally appear as one proceeds with their lives and careers (Sandburg & Scovell, 2013). Sandberg gives the women who are seeking mentors some advice. First, one should be able to differentiate between a mentor and a sponsor. Mentors are those who give advice while sponsors make use of their influence to advocate for the needs of their clients.

Regarding my personal experience, I had a mentor a few years ago. My mentor would give me advice regarding different issues in life, for instance, regarding my studies and future plans. I looked for my mentor in social media, and I was lucky to find a competent, professional, and honest person. I will apply the information of mentors explained by Sandberg in the future by being patient and not stress myself by looking for one since they naturally come as life continues.

The Involvement of Both Parties in Parental Work

In the earlier chapters of the book, Sandberg explains that women are the most people affected by parental responsibilities. Sometimes, they chose to raise their children over their careers. In the eighth chapter of the book, the author explains that family work should be done as a team. Both partners must be involved in raising children and performing other responsibilities. When in marriage, there should be a 50-50 partnership. However, equality does not mean that everything should be divided equally into two; rather, it is when a couple decides that they can bring out the best in each other and manage the totality of their lives. Fathers must take up the responsibilities and help out more with the children even though mothers are more inclined to raising babies.

The issue of partners is related to my personal experience. I have observed several women doing all the work by themselves, and it is overwhelming. I will use the knowledge I have acquired to encourage my life partner to be more involved in raising our children, although work is important, women struggle a lot on their own, and they need assistance.

Need for Conversations

In the tenth chapter of the book, Sandberg explains that it is necessary to talk about the gender issue. According to the author, the term feminism is misunderstood and misinterpreted by many people. A feminist refers to a woman who believes in the social, political, and economic equality of both genders (Sandburg & Scovell, 2013). Gender equality in the workplace is very important. The issue of many women leaving work is also a significant issue, and women should be concerned about it (Sandburg & Scovell, 2013). The example given in the book is that Google employees are given a chance to nominate themselves for top leadership positions. However, according to the company, more men nominate themselves faster than women, but when the data was shared with female employees, the rate significantly increased.

The issue of feminism is related to my personal experiences in that I have interacted with women who claim to be feminists but do not understand the ideology deeply. Other women do not care about ascending to positions of power. I will use the information in the future to encourage women to seek leadership roles to elevate their status and get more opportunities.

Adopting Career Goals

In the fourth chapter of the book, Sandberg talks about choosing two important career goals. Working people should have short term goals of about eighteen months and long-term goals (Sandburg & Scovell, 2013). Recruiters often want to know where someone will be in a specific period, like five years, although it may sound lame to many people. However, according to the author, the dream need not be realistic, but it is crucial to have a plan. There is a significant difference between ladders and jungle gyms. While ladders often limit a person, juggle gyms give people a chance to be more explorative. Getting to the top of the ladder is limited, but there are diverse ways to penetrate through the jungle gyms. Sandberg advises her readers to seek out high growth firms if one wants to succeed since they have better and more significant opportunities for success.

The information about career goals is related to my personal experience since I have worked in certain firms in the past. Having both short-term and long-term goals is crucial since it gives a person a sense of direction. I will apply the information in my life by seeking to work in high growth firms for greater chances of success.

"Leaning In" To Careers

Sandberg advises women to stop worrying about children and families if they are not yet a reality when seeking out for jobs. The author is concerned that many women often have "what if" thoughts regarding pregnancies and babies. It is crucial to have child-bearing plans, but the thoughts of the matter should not be a barrier when advancing their careers and looking for employment opportunities (Sandburg & Scovell, 2013). According to Sandberg, trying to have a baby should never deter anyone from starting a new job. It would be the best time to get into a new job so that if a woman loves it, she can go back after giving birth.

Regarding my past experiences, I relate to Sandberg's concern. I have observed many women give up jobs when wanting to bear children. Since both jobs can be done simultaneously, it would be advisable for any woman to start working before they bear children and gain more experience. I will use the information to help me in my life to make better decisions and know what is good or bad for me.

Choosing Partners

Sandberg addresses the issue of the choice of partners in the eighth chapter of the book. Having a life partner in the making of crucial career decisions is vital, but it depends on who that person is. Women in leadership should choose supportive life partners and who will have a significant influence on their working lives. The statistic given in the book is that 60% of the woman who left the workforce in 2007 mentioned their spouses as the primary factors that influenced their decision (Sandburg & Scovell, 2013).

The information explained above is related to my personal experience since I have interacted with career women with very supportive spouses. I have also observed other men asking their women to quit working. I will use the information in the future to support my spouse in their career decisions and ensure that they succeed in it.


In the tenth chapter of the book, Sandberg addresses the issue of discrimination. The example given is that of Ken Chenault, who acknowledges that in most meetings, when women stand to talk, they are often interrupted. Additionally, credit is given to a man even when the idea originally came from a woman (Sandburg & Scovell, 2013). Leaders should let women express themselves and be confident, competent, and nice.

The information applies to my personal experiences since I have observed men taking credit where it is not due. Women must be given an equal platform to contribute to important issues that will lead to growth. I will use the information in my life to advocate for equity and ensure that women can be confident and good leaders too.


Sandburg, S., & Scovell, N. (2013). Lean in: Women, work, and the will to lead. New York: Alfred.

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Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead - Literary Analysis Essay. (2023, Mar 13). Retrieved from https://proessays.net/essays/lean-in-women-work-and-the-will-to-lead-literary-analysis-essay

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