Friday, April 26, 2013

Lean In: Chapter 4

Lean In: Chapter 4


Chapter 4 is titled: It’s a jungle gym, not a ladder.  A lot of what is in here I have seen and experienced with the one caveat that women think about a lot more things (some realistic and some not) before making a big career decision. This chapter discusses that the work place is not a corporate ladder where there is a linear progression in the same line of work but that the view can be great from a bunch of different places all of varying heights, so if you love the monkey bars you’re on now but there are too many kids on with you but the slide is empty, practically begging to be used, jump off the monkey bars and go enjoy the slide! It’s a great analogy.

I think by the time a woman feels she’s ready for a new job she is already over-qualified for it.  I’ve read in other articles as well as in this book that studies have shown that while men are hired based on potential, women are hired based on historical performance so I suppose a woman wants to ensure that each performance is stellar so as not to muck up future inroads. Also, men apply for jobs when they feel they can fulfill 60% of the role whereas a woman won’t apply until she feels she can fulfill 100% of the role. Another example pointing to the same insecurity or lack of confidence in women relative to men.

But that insecurity in women and confidence in men stems from childhood. When a guy goes for gold and fails, he is pretty good about getting back up on his feet, dusting the dirt off his knees and driving on. That’s because growing up it was natural for him to get a scraped knee or cut or bruise from playing and even rough housing with other boys. The terminology ‘boys will be boys’ is an acceptance of this somewhat reckless male behaviour that has limited consequences because it’s innate in them to be this way. But girls are more delicate so if she falls we promptly pick her up, nurse her wound and remind her to be more careful so as not to do it again.

I can attest to the fact that parents nowadays are more aware of this and proactively try to level the playing field by letting girls pick themselves off the floor and even running to the attention of their son and kissing his boo-boo.  But it’s a bit of a catch-22 because women are different from men and require to be raised a little differently.
No matter how you slice it if your 15 year old daughter goes to a party that an older student is throwing on a Friday night and the party starts at 10pm versus your son going to the same party, most parents will have higher stress levels with the former scenario than the latter. The basis of this worry is real. The stress is natural and playing fair takes a backseat when you’re talking about the wellbeing of your kid.

So do women have a reason to be more cautious and careful their entire lives? They sure do. So instead of trying to deny this feeling, let’s accept it for what it is, embrace it (because I think it’s this natural ability to experience a stimulus and respond swiftly knowing we’ve thought of so many more scenarios in a millisecond, aka women’s intuition) and leverage it to create our own path and drive on. Our journey will be different because we are different but the destination could be the same.

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