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Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead

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"Lean In" illuminates the stagnancy of gender equity in the workplace, particularly in positions of power. While top-tier business schools and entry-level jobs may have an even gender breakdown, numbers skew as time progresses. Women became 50 percent of college graduates in the US in the early 1980s, Sandberg notes. But a generation later, only 21 women lead the Fortune 500 companies. Women hold 14 percent of executive officer positions, 16 percent of board seats, and are 18 percent of our elected Congress. For women of color, these numbers sink by two-thirds. So, Sandberg writes, women are outpacing men in education, but are not progressing as leaders in any industry. “This means that when it comes to making the decisions that most affect our world, the voices of women are not heard equally.”

And we haven’t even gotten to the pay gap yet.

"In 1970, American women were paid 59 cents for every dollar their male counterparts made. By 2010, women had protested, fought, and worked their butts off to raise that compensation to 77 cents for every dollar men made. As activist Marlo Thomas wryly joked on Equal Pay Day 2011, 'Forty years and eighteen cents. A dozen eggs have gone up ten times that amount.' ”

So what’s the problem?

The “lean in” mantra is easily co-opted or misunderstood as suggesting that the lack of women with power in the richest country on earth is the fault of women themselves: They just don’t want it enough. "Lean In" skewers this limp rationalization by examining how women are selected out of the pool of talented leaders.

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