Sandberg's book shares personal details that reveal a fair share of stumbles and lesser-known tidbits. Did you know she was an aerobics instructor in the 1980s —big hair, silver leotard and all? The book paints a picture of an exceptionally successful woman who admits to lacking confidence at various points in her career.
Sandberg writes about the "ambition gap" between men and women in the workplace — that while men are expected to be driven, ambition in women can be seen as negative. She writes about parents' gender-based approaches to child rearing that teach girls to be "pretty like mommy" and boys "smart like daddy," as she's seen on baby onesies sold at Gymboree.
And she writes about "feeling like a fraud" — that insidious notion, felt largely by women but men as well, that success is due not to one's own merit but to some sort of gross oversight or accident.
Sandberg's book comes half a century after Betty Friedan's "The Feminine Mystique," which identified "the problem that has no name" among largely white, suburban housewives who felt unhappy and unfulfilled in their roles at home. Friedan, too, was criticized for focusing on a privileged swath of womankind.
"Lean In" is a call to action to make it easier for women to become leaders. It's a call for women to take space at the table, raise their hands, speak up and step up. It's a personal account of a woman who, through a mix of talent, luck and ambition, but also with plenty of internal and external obstacles along the way, managed to do that.
Feminist icon Gloria Steinem, whom Sandberg thanks in the acknowledgements and cites as inspiration, praises "Lean In" on her Facebook page, saying that it "addresses internalized oppression, opposes external barriers that create it and urges women to support each other to fight both."
She adds that even the book's critics "are making a deep if inadvertent point: Only in women is success viewed as a barrier to giving advice."