“Lean-In Circles” Now Circulating Web

Lean-In Website

Sandberg’s Lean In website launched today, with this mosaic tile featuring her various supporters or experts on the site’s homepage (Photo Credit: LeanIn.org)

How are women celebrating Women’s History Month this March? PBS and AOL successfully broadcasted MAKERS: Women Who Make America, a documentary showcasing the American revolution of women gaining equal rights and power to society from the 1950s to today.  MAKERS has been persistently promoting on Twitter, commenting on women making progress in society today, re-tweeting fans, or tweeting fun facts.  While their feed constantly buzzes, guess whom they made a shout-out to just this morning?  “Congrats to MAKERS @SherylSandberg…on the launch of Lean-In!”  Today is the day that the highly anticipated Sandberg social movement of Lean In has officially been launched to the world.

The three-component structure of Lean-In first involves the hopefulness of women expressing their stories of “leaning in” on this online community.  The second phase encompasses free educational videos sponsored by Stanford University’s Clayman Institute for Gender Research, which provide tools on how to negotiate and carry strong body language in the office – after watching these videos, women may not be so keen on holding the door open for a man.  The third phase entails the gathering of eight to ten women to share their stories on personal, women-empowering levels.  According to the HuffPost, who got an early sneak peek on the inner workings of the launch, Sandberg coordinated a trial run of these in-person circles in the last couple weeks, and modeled Lean-In Circles membership strategies off of Weight Watchers and other organizations.

An editorial by The Atlantic staff comments on how all of a sudden Sandberg’s publicity stint has made her critics care and write about working women.  I couldn’t agree more – the uproar in blog and opinion pieces has been crazy, as I elaborate in my prior post.  On the anti-Sandberg side, a Business Insider author finds that the C-Suite, Fortune 500 culture Sandberg is aiming to fix is the most molded, least flexible arena.  Furthermore, a WSJ blogger comments that Sandberg’s approach is an example of “simply the elite leading the slightly-less-elite, for the sake of Sandberg’s bottom line”.  And we can’t forget her “biggest critic”, Ms. Anne-Marie Slaughter, who was allegedly at “mommy wars” with Sandberg according to a previous NYT post.  Except wait, Slaughter is featured on Sandberg’s page as an expert sharing her Lean In story! The irony here just makes us think about how ridiculous all of the criticism as been.  In fact, as a proponent of Sandberg, Joan Walsh of The Salon says “there’s a manic cruelty to some of the criticism”, and outlines the benefits of Sandberg’s movement as a working mom herself.  Another proponent is Michelle Goldberg of the The Daily Beast, who defends Sandberg for doing everything in her power to have more female corporate execs, political leaders, and lawyers in the world.

Before reading the HuffPost article, this “movement” seemed way too ambitious.  For one thing, TIME!  Starting my full-time career in just 2 months, I already know I’ll be hurting for any extra free time, let alone another membership fee and hour-long session to drive to once a month.  But it’s this exact mindset Sandberg is trying to break-through – if we’re not exposed to the mechanisms to internally empower ourselves in our careers, how are women ever going to assert themselves?  Blindly?  Certainly not.  Personally, I think she should make an extra effort to reach out to females on the same boat as me – educated woman about to embark on their careers, pre-kids.  This way, we can ENTER our careers with the tool and mindset to get ahead on the same page as men.

Despite the critiques, today is Day 1 of this potentially humongous “movement” as she advances her Lean-In Circles groups.  As the HuffPost title says, “Will They Make A Difference?”

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