Lean In Book Summary (PDF) by Sheryl Sandberg

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Ready to learn the most important takeaways from Lean In in less than two minutes? Keep reading!

Why This Book Matters:

Sheryl Sandberg’s international bestseller shines a light on the gender inequality that still exists and shows women how to address it and move past it to achieve their ambitions.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Despite significant progress, it is important to be aware that gender inequality still exists  
    1. Women are still discriminated against, and many aren’t aware of the ongoing bias.
    2. Example: In the 1970s, women made $0.59 to every dollar men made. In 2010, women still only earned $0.77 to every dollar men made.
  2. Women are noticeably absent from leadership positions
    1. Whether it’s due to childhood learned bias or motherhood, many women tend to be less committed to pursuing leadership positions.
    2. Example: Only 4% of Fortune 500 company CEOs are women even though women outperform men in pre-professional academic settings.  
  3. Talk openly with others about inequality to work together towards a solution
    1. Discussing gender inequality often identifies opportunities to help close the gap.
    2. Example: Professors who know that women are less likely to raise their hand in class may call on an equal number of males and females in order to level the imbalance.  
  4. Fake confidence until you build it naturally
    1. Many women are plagued by the “imposter syndrome,” where they believe their skills are inferior and thus hold back in areas where career progression requires confidence.
    2. Example: Research shows that women consistently undervalue their contributions.
  5. Navigate your career like a jungle gym instead of treating it like a ladder
    1. The notion of “career ladder” is becoming antiquated, as many people change careers many times in their lives.
    2. Example: The author was once considering a job at Google long before the company had made a big impact. Rather than looking at whether the position would be a step up on the career ladder, she looked at the growth potential of the company.
  6. In professional settings, women are often forced to choose between being liked and professional achievement
    1. Because of ingrained stereotypes, women have had to be ambitious without appearing pushy.
    2. Example: Women often must approach salary increase negotiations in terms of the team’s success instead of speaking of what she’s accomplished on an individual level.
  7. Equality is just as important at home, too
    1. Home obligations should be equally balanced.
    2. Example: Working moms spend 40% more time on childrearing than men do.
  8. Women shouldn’t assume that having children will prevent them from being able to take on the professional roles they aspire to
    1. It is possible to balance both work and motherhood, so don’t let up on your goals.
    2. Example: Many women have let opportunities for career advancement pass them by in anticipation of motherhood.
  9. It’s impossible to have it all, so make sure to prioritize what’s most important
    1. Make time for what’s most important, as striving for perfection in every aspect of life will lead to burnout.
    2. Example: Make sure to go to a child’s game but accept that the house may not be perfectly clean.

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I started Two Minute Books to help people improve their lives and their businesses or careers. My work has been featured by the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the U.S. & U.K. Governments. You can read my writing about digital nomading & life improvement at FreedomIsEverything.com.