In my previous blog about the book “Lean In” written by Sheryl Sandberg, I discussed my thoughts as I read the book as a career woman. However as you know, I believe the book provides guidance on different aspects of a woman’s life. For Part 3 of this blog post, I read the book as a mother.
Who would have ever thought that a book found in the business section of the bookstore would cause me to examine how my husband and I raise our daughters? Sandberg shares insightful stories about how the leadership gap between men and women begins when girls are young; this had me reflecting on the way I parent. Actually even reading stories about how Sandberg herself was raised was highly instructive to me as a parent.
In talking about the effects of parenting on young girls, Sandberg has definitely done her homework! She is not selling herself as an expert in the field. Instead she relies on reputable studies and research to explain how the leadership gap begins.
After reading this book, I walked away with a belief that parents of young girls need to guard against instilling gender stereotypes, even unintentionally. The results she recounts are haunting : from young girls that lack ambition for leadership positions to cultural messages that unwittingly teach society that these stereotypes are acceptable. Doubting the abilities of our daughters, teaching them to be quiet and ‘nice’, and discouraging behavior that could be perceived as ‘bossy’ or ‘aggressive’ are all actions that pave the road to gender inequality.
Another excellent point raised in the book is the importance of paternal involvement. It has been proven by study after study that fathers have a positive impact on the mental, social and academic well being of a child.
I especially enjoyed reading stories about how Sandberg and her siblings were raised. Of course these stories add a wonderful personal touch not usually found in business books. More than that though, I found them instructive. Let me provide an example that particularly moved me. In one story, Sandberg recounts a disagreement she had with her sister over a lollipop. Despite raising very good arguments on why she should get the last lollipop, Sandberg’s mother made her and her sister reflect on how the other feels; the lollipop was forgotten in lieu of listening and empathy. Whether you are raising a daughter or a son, I think this is a fantastic parenting tip which I now practice on my own children.
Sandberg also explores an issue I myself have at times grappled with : what message am I sending to my daughters when I try ‘to have it all’? After all, our children deserve to know they have choices and will be supported regardless of the decisions they make as individuals, not as a male or as a female. There is an uncertain possibility that I am teaching my daughters an unvoiced lesson as I struggle to maintain balance of having a career and having children. But I digress into a topic likely best discussed in the next blog post.
E-reader’s Opinion: Parents, teachers and caregivers of both young boys and girls can learn something from this book. Sandberg takes some of the top research into parenting and presents it concisely and succinctly. What can you do to raise your daughters to be leaders? What can you do to raise your sons to respect women leaders? What can we do to raise a generation where students, employees, and parents are judged only by their individual skills and not by gender biases? The book is worth a read by anyone caring for young children.
Your E-reader reviewer is Hetal Kushwaha, Liaison – International Practice, Marks & Clerk Canada. She would like to emphasize that this is just her personal opinion and it is not intended to represent the views of Marks & Clerk Canada. She can be reached at