The answer to getting more done and leading a balanced life isn’t in beating yourself up about ambitions.
We’ve entered a new paradigm. One in which women, particularly in the West, have greater opportunity than ever before and yet are feeling stressed out, anxious, and exhausted trying to cope with the pressure to succeed in all areas of life. Despite external success, many women have a feeling of not measuring up or being good enough. Other women are leaning in so strongly that they are burning out. It’s a catch-22: how do we lean in without burning out?
Research shows bright girls are particularly likely to see their abilities as innate and unchangeable, and they grow up to be women who are far too hard on themselves—women who will prematurely conclude that they don’t have what it takes to succeed in a particular arena and give up way too soon.
Our experience is that women blame themselves. Therefore, many women are reading Lean In and thinking “Oh, I guess I wasn’t leaning in hard enough, I need to push myself even more.”
Here are the tenets for how to lean in without burning out:
Grounded leaders are able to do away with traditional leadership stereotypes based in gender roles.
We’re all familiar with the phrase “men are from Mars and women are from Venus.” In the business world, this has had unfortunate consequences for male and female leaders.
Male leaders were typecast as dominant competitors who played politics inside hierarchies and were great at leading with power, while female leaders were expected to understand connection and communication and lead people and teams better.
With this lens, the business world developed a whole theory of preconceived notions and biases about what to expect from men and women leaders. And like most assumptions, these supposed differences took on a life of their own. Over time, we became experts at typecasting people and, ultimately, shackling men and women to these stereotypes.
It’s time to put an end to this preoccupation with gender differences. It represents an old way of thinking and does a real disservice to both men and women.
Forget Barbie. Why not have young girls play with Marie Curie?
Starting with a doll modeled after Nobel Prize winner Marie Curie, the line will feature strong female role models from history, along with an accompanying app that has new content for each doll. “It’s not just about getting girls excited about engineering. It’s important to show girls all the opportunities available to them,” says Hobbs.
But how do you separate the distractions from truly valuable advice? These five women in the tech and business industries made their own ways, but sifted through their share of unsolicited chaff in the process.
Women are told to lean in, but having the time to lean back might be the true test of equality and success.
It’s well documented that women still aren’t earning as much as men—less than three quarters of the salary for the same work in many industries—but the gender wage gap isn’t the only issue. There’s another disparity quietly gaining traction: The gender leisure gap.
Some blame Sheryl Sandberg’s "Lean-in" phenomenon, in which women have been urged to do more, take on more, lean in to more and more opportunities in order to advance. Lean-in critics like Georgetown law professor Rosa Brooks say it’s a mentality that breeds burnout.
"When a workplace is full of employees who always lean in and never lean back, it’s full of employees who are exhausted, brittle, and incapable of showing much creativity or making good decisions," she writes in Foreign Policy. “There is, after all, much to be said for leaning out—for long lunches, afternoon naps, good books, and some nice, slow hours in the La-Z-Boy.”
“Testosterone can help traders take risks and move fast, making loads of money in the meantime,” LouAnn Lofton writes in her book. “But too much testosterone for too long can encourage too much risk taking. … The way women tend to approach investing is healthier and calmer, and it’s the way we should all approach investing.”
Gender and generational gaps have recently become big buzz words in the business world. According to a new study, it’s not a passing trend: Having millennials and women in leadership positions directly correlates with the success of a company.
Less than 1% of women going to college plan to major in computer science, according to the American Association of University Women. Those are bleak numbers.
What will prompt more women to get into coding? The first step: paying teachers to recruit girls to take coding classes.
With $1 million in funding from Google’s Made With Code initiative, nonprofit DonorsChoose.org is rewarding teachers with money when they get four or more female students to complete a coding class online.