Lean in? Women Finding Success in the Workplace

March 11, 2013 | Karin

There’s a lot of talk about powerful corporate women these days, and the choices they are making regarding family and career. This month, one Fortune 500 CEO, Marissa Mayer of Yahoo, has been making headlines. First, Mayer made headlines for ending Yahoo’s policy allowing employees to work from home. Then, Mayer was called a hypocrite for having a nursery built at the office, while taking away flexibility from the company’s employees. Most recently, she disavowed the term “feminist.”

Former Lehman Brothers Chief Financial Officer Erin Callan is now in the news for admitting she regrets the choices she has made regarding how she prioritized her work and family. At age 47, she is trying to have a baby. She said,

‘But I can’t make up for lost time,’ she concedes, now acknowledging that ‘most importantly’ she does not have children of her own, a far cry from a woman who admits she spent every waking second glued to her BlackBerry.

‘I have often wondered whether I would have been asked to be C.F.O. if I had not worked the way that I did.

Until recently, I thought my singular focus on my career was the most powerful ingredient in my success. But I am beginning to realize that I sold myself short.

‘I was talented, intelligent and energetic. It didn’t have to be so extreme. Besides, there were diminishing returns to that kind of labor,’ she now realizes.

‘I didn’t have to be on my BlackBerry from my first moment in the morning to my last moment at night. I didn’t have to eat the majority of my meals at my desk.

‘I didn’t have to fly overnight to a meeting in Europe on my birthday. I now believe that I could have made it to a similar place with at least some better version of a personal life. Not without sacrifice — I don’t think I could have “had it all” — but with somewhat more harmony.’

These are timely headlines to spark conversations about Sheryl Sandberg’s new book, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, which is already making waves.

What is the best book you have read on women in the workplace? What is a woman supposed to do?

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