Leaning in & stepping back

Two worthwhile reads in the New York Times recently, on work-life balance: Anne-Marie Slaughter reviews Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In & Erin Callan (former CFO at Lehman Brothers) timely chimes in on life after work.

Both women (& Ms. Sandberg) have significant experience on their side & have much to teach those of us just starting our careers.

Ms. Slaughter’s review appears to be a balanced glimpse at Ms. Sandberg’s book. She lauds Ms. Sandberg’s style & the ways in which she genuinely seeks to encourage young women to not be afraid & to be confident. But Ms. Slaughter also criticizes the book for being complicit in the corporate world’s unwillingness to change or to accommodate family life. Slaughter writes:

Young women might be much more willing to lean in if they saw better models and possibilities of fitting work and life together: ways of slowing down for a while but still staying on a long-term promotion track; of getting work done on their own time rather than according to a fixed schedule; of being affirmed daily in their roles both as parents and as professionals.

I definitely find myself identifying with Ms. Slaughter’s approach & looking desperately for ways to make this my reality. But it’s an uphill battle in the current culture & climate.

Ms. Callan’s opinion piece is very much in line with Ms. Slaughter’s review. It is a brutally (even painfully) honest evaluation of the time Ms. Callan devoted to her job & how she reacted when she was forced to just stop.

What I love about Ms. Callan’s story is that it shows that this is not just a mom’s issue. Ms. Callan does not have children, but she (like anyone) has many relationships that were affected by her total devotion to her career. Her perspective is an important one & it’s one that is often lost in the work-life balance debate. We all have lives and only so much time to live them. So it’s not just about making the workplace family friendly, it’s about making the workplace humane.


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Filed under Feminism, Living, Mothering, Parenting, Partnership, Read, Working

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