It was a bestseller that begat a catchphrase and, we thought, a movement: Lean In. Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg’s 2013 book on how to get ahead (or just get equality) in the workplace became an immediate touchstone for a generation of women who had gotten their foot in the door but now didn’t know what to do. How do we negotiate a raise, a promotion, paid family leave? How do we speak up in meetings, at presentations, with our families?
In the four years since Lean In’s publication, much has happened. A woman ran for president of the United States and won the popular vote. We’ve seen a greater awareness of sexism, lack of opportunity and the wage gap in many industries, especially entertainment. Sandberg’s become a prominent voice in the mainstream feminist conversation. Her husband, tragically, suddenly passed away from a cardiac arrhythmia.
Still, for Sandberg and for American women, that doesn’t necessarily mean a lot has actually changed. There’s a man in the oval office, the wage gap isn’t closed, and despite all our marching, our rights are, as ever, under attack. In a recent interview with USA Today, Sandberg was upfront about the statistics that show there hasn’t been marked progress for women in business over the last four years:
Sandberg said she was still optimistic about the energy in the current feminist movement, citing the “Lean In” groups that have formed to help empower women to advocate for themselves in the workplace. Recently, however, some have questioned whether Sandberg’s “corporate” brand of feminism is appropriate at a time when the majority party’s political agenda is so radically anti-woman.
There’s an argument to be made that our current situation doesn’t mean that the ideas in Lean In didn’t work, but that they hasn’t worked yet, and we still need them. Awareness is the first step toward progress. Sandberg said:
It’s certainly not.
BY ELIZABETH LOGAN MARCH 30, 2017 6:30 PM