April 30, 2013

Follow up for Lean In

Filed under: Uncategorized — mvervinck @ 2:52 pm
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Several weeks ago I posted about the book Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg as I was reading it.  At the time, I was about half way through the book.  I have since finished it, but I find myself thinking about it and talking about it at various times.  I also find myself applying many of the things discussed in the book in my life.

First, I mentioned the book during one of my lectures on sociolinguistics.  I was discussing who tends to speak more, men or women.  One of the students brought  up the point that it really depends on where she is whether she spoke up very much.  She said she talks more with her friends than she ever would answering questions in a classroom or at work. (Ironically, she was participating in a discussion in a large class of 80, but I didn’t point that out to her.)  I asked her why.  She said that she didn’t want to appear as a know-it-all.  Next, I asked the class if they were aware of the book Lean In.  Sadly, none of the students raised their hand.  None of the 80 students in the course knew of the book or would admit knowing of the book.  Since it has been in the news, on the best sellers list, and even mentioned on the radio programs I listen to, I was very surprised.  I thought someone would have mentioned they knew of it even if they hadn’t read it.  Anyway, the reason I mentioned it was because I wanted to see if they thought the book would make a difference at school or at work in the way women feel about speaking up to answer questions, participating in discussions or talking about their ideas more.  Well, since no one had heard of the book, let alone read it, I had to direct the discussion elsewhere.  But, that bothered me.  So, during my next class, I brought up the book again during a discussion to see if anyone in that class had read it or even heard of it.  Once again, no one raised their hands or commented that they had.  It saddened me.  This was another class of 80.

To me, the fact that the students weren’t even aware of something that has been in the spotlight so much leaves me shaking my head.  Yes, I do think that the fact that men and women tend to speak more or less depending on the social, educational and work related situation they are in.  This needs to be discussed.  To me, the bigger picture is that students in college are missing out on some important conversations because they are not aware nor want to participate and come to the table.  They are not checked into what is happening in the world nor do they feel that these things really affect them.  This  will affect them as they head off into the work force.

When will they begin to look around and realize that they really do need to lean in?  There is a lot going on in the world out there beyond their smartphone keyboards.  Now, is the time that they need to begin seeing that they have to lean in.  They have to speak.

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