Women and work

I finished reading the book Lean in by Sheryl Sandberg. It was inspiring and motivating. This post is not a review of the book, but instead I am writing about my experiences as a woman student or an employee and how the subjects discussed in this book relate to my life. These are my thoughts after reading the book.

  • Underestimating ourselves – something that I realized after I read the book. I have always underestimated my ability. Only recently have I started feeling little confident that I can achieve anything if I put my heart in it. I used to not like discussing answers after an exam was over only because I felt I could have done better. I never appreciated myself for answering so many questions, instead I would feel bad for the questions that I did not answer well.
  • People have often termed me as being “lucky”. After reading the book, I understood that successful women are often referred to as being lucky by others. I still remember something that one of my friends told me long back. He said “You put lot of hard work and dedication and this is the reason why you are successful. It was not luck so stop calling yourself lucky”.
  • Some men have a hard time accepting the fact that women can be smart too. I never actually memorized stuff from textbooks. I was gifted with a good memory and once I understood some concept, I could answer questions based on that. I never had to read something more than once. But guys had a hard time believing this whenever I told them. They always assumed that I must have memorized everything sentence by sentence and never considered that it was quite possible for me to be smart.
  • Women usually dislike other successful women for some reason. One time I ended up topping the class. Guys in my class congratulated me wholeheartedly. When it came to girls, not even a single girl congratulated me or even spoke to me on the day the results were announced. It was as if I had done something really bad.
  • In one of my previous workplaces where I was the only woman, my male colleagues never listened to me. Any idea, solution or reason for a problem that I suggested was quickly dismissed even without considering it for a minute. In meetings, people did not pay attention to me when I spoke. Eventually, I became a spectator by never opening my mouth. After reading this book I realized that it is common for women.
  • She also talks about how men can easily get mentorship from other senior men (if they want), while women do not. I have noticed that some men get very informal and friendly with their male manager, while we women cannot get too informal with a male manager. Men go out for lunches, have beer together and get friendly with senior male colleagues. Unfortunately, most of the seniors are men.

P.S: Just because I have mentioned some instances where I was treated differently since I was a woman, it doesn’t mean that men get everything easily. Many times people have encouraged and supported me in my career, even men have shown support in the past. I am not generalizing anything here but just sharing my experiences so you know how I could relate to the book through those experiences.

Do watch her TED talk. It’s awesome and some of those points are mentioned in her book. Join the group atΒ http://leanin.org/

Will come back with another post with some quotes from the book.

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21 thoughts on “Women and work

  1. I don’t believe men could ever get ‘mentored’ by other men, especially from a senior, in an organizational set-up. Whatever they learn, they learn by themselves ‘in spite’ of their seniors. All those ‘socialization’ aspects of seniors with juniors is aimed at making them submissive, than mentoring them in anyway. It’s only my opinion based on my limited experience – maybe others might have actually had some ‘mentorship’!

    Everyone faces their own problems in life and work, so, I don’t think it’s fair to assess the other side as being ‘greener’.

    Destination Infinity

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    • I am not saying all the men don’t learn by themselves and get mentored by seniors. But I have seen men in my team get promoted just because they were friends with manager. I always thought this was not right but this book has an entire chapter dedicated to this subject.

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  2. You are the real life example of what Thomas Jefferson said: β€œI’m a greater believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it”.

    There is a reason for senior managers not mentoring junior level women or not being informal like going out for lunch or having an after work drink before going home. Believe me, I am a senior manager. They are afraid that someone may start spreading the rumor about illicit relationship between the two. It will be a false rumor. Still, that would seriously affect the career advancement of that senior manager.

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    • I completely agree with you SG and I guess that is the reason why women also don’t try to get informal with senior men in workplaces. She also mentions this in the book that how getting informal might make others think they have an affair or something.

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  3. I’ve either faced or come across all situations that you mentioned. About the women not liking other women when they outperform them, or about being branded lucky. Sometimes we think we arent good enough and we are even made to feel so, but if that thought changes, almost our entire outlook will change.

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  4. I just read the book review after reading this post. I am definitely reading that one! Whatever you have written is so true. There is still a gap when it comes to accepting successful women. Men are supposed to be hard working and women are supposed to be lucky, if they do well. I totally agree with that point!

    well written!

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    • Yeah do read this book. I used to sometimes wonder about these points and take them personally. But after reading the book I realized, most of these problems are faced by all the women, and not just me.

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  5. I am going to read this book.
    I agree with you on all your points – why are men and women intimidated by a successful woman?
    And yes, I agree with what your friend told you – its your hardwork that’s given you success.
    Don’t underestimate yourself! Hugs!! May you have all the success you deserve! πŸ™‚

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  6. I think every working woman will identify with this post as I did. That is the reality, it’s tougher for a woman to raise to higher levels in the male dominated society. Despite the difficulties there many successful women today and that should be something we all should be proud of! πŸ™‚

    I will definitely check out this book! My friends had gifted me a book which was on similar lines, when I left my last organization. That was – “Lady, you’re not a man” by Apurva Purohit. Though I didn’t agree with everything the author wrote, it was a good read.

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    • It is indeed tough for women to succeed at work. When I read the reviews for this book, I thought I might not be able to relate to it. I was wrong as most part of the book made sense to me and I was nodding my head at most of the topics she dealt with. You should give this book a try Arch.
      I will check that book by Apurva.

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