I’ve watched Sheryl Sandberg’s TED Talk which inspired her book, Lean In, but I have yet to read the actual book, so it would be foolish of me to criticize any of the arguments that she makes therein.
I suspect that I will agree with a lot of what she argues in the book (which I have on audio and will listen to soon) but not all. I have some very specific thoughts on the behavior of men and women in the workplace that I suspect will clash with Sandberg’s ideas, but that is for a different day.
However, in watching this follow-up to her initial TED talk and the book, I found myself annoyed by two of her statements.
Sandberg claims that less than 5% of men are accused of being too aggressive at work. She also says that she has never met a man who has been asked the question, ‘How do you do it all?"
I have been accused of being too aggressive at work many, many times, and I am asked, “How do you do it all?” almost daily.
If this is an exaggeration, it is of the slightest variety.
Is it true that women are accused of being too aggressive at work more often than men?
Is it true that women are asked how they manage to do it all more often than men?
But the same kinds of generalizations and assumptions that harm women in the workplace should be avoided in regards to men, too, and I think Sandberg should know better.
My wife claims that I am an anomaly in both of these respects. She believes that my perceived aggression is the result of a workplace that is more than 90% female (which, if true, raises many other gender-specific questions), and she argues that the constant barrage of “How do you do it all?” is unique to me.
While I doubt that it is unique to me, it is probably uncommon, but why alienate me and others like me with the implication that no man has ever been asked that question?
Also, I would like to ask Sandberg that if I am truly rare in both of these respects, what does this say about me?
Should I be leaning in more often, too? Am I, too, being marginalized in the workplace? If these are truly signs of a problem, how am I being negatively impacted as a man who experiences conditions similar to women, at least in these regards?