I recently joined a book club in an effort to tackle the overflowing selection of books packed into my already-cramped cupboards. I have developed a terrible habit of frequenting bookshops, excitement and eagerness motivating me to impulsively buy a book, only to find it sitting in my shelf, un-touched and wrinkle-free, weeks later.
As a way to break a bad habit, I joined a monthly book club with good friends and familiar faces. Though from different parts of the world, we’re struck with similar interests and an ethos that brought us together in this club.
One book that we’ve read and has ultimately changed the way I view myself, my daily habits, my social interactions and my career ambitions is the book, Lean In. Written by Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, the book pushes for the realisation of goals and ambitions for women, while simultaneously exploring the challenges and barriers that women face at home, in society and in the workforce.
The book is dense and covers a huge amount of topics. It’s the kind of book you’ll read slowly and sporadically, stopping at a phrase or section to think ‘hmm …have I ever done that?’ or ‘do I even realise I do that?’
One theme that resonated with me is how women tend to be self-deprecating, unable (or perhaps unwilling) to accept a compliment or receive praise. Instead, we undermine ourselves amongst friends, partners and in the workforce. Studies related to this point highlight how in college, women consistently underestimate their performance in exams, despite the fact that marks are consistently similar (and sometimes higher) than to men. Or how in the majority of speeches made by women, hard work and achievement is said to come ‘as a result of the help and support of others’. Men, on the other hand, credit their achievements and results to themselves, their hard work and perseverance.
Once I read that chapter in the book, I noticed tendencies throughout my work interactions where I would refuse to take a compliment or re-direct the focus to someone else. Why is it that we are afraid to let ourselves stand out? The book also proposes that often times, women who do take compliments and are notoriously bold and confident, may be perceived as pushy and bossy.
I’ll stop here, as I don’t want to inundate you with stats and discussion points. As you’ll notice, the book is robust, but covers a laundry list of topics very important to young women our age.
Keep me posted and let me know if you read the book. Would love to hear your thoughts!