“I GOT PREGNANT with my first child in the summer of 2004. At the time, I was running the online sales and operations groups at Google. I had joined the company three and a half years earlier when it was an obscure start-up with a few hundred employees in a run-down office building. By my first trimester, Google had grown into a company of thousands and moved into a multibuilding campus.
My pregnancy was not easy. The typical morning sickness that often accompanies the first trimester affected me every day for nine long months. I gained almost seventy pounds, and my feet swelled two entire shoe sizes, turning into odd-shaped lumps I could see only when they were propped up on a coffee table. A particularly sensitive Google engineer announced that “Project Whale” was named after me.
One day, after a rough morning spent staring at the bottom of the toilet, I had to rush to make an important client meeting. Google was growing so quickly that parking was an ongoing problem, and the only spot I could find was quite far away. I sprinted across the parking lot, which in reality meant lumbering a bit more quickly than my absurdly slow pregnancy crawl. This only made my nausea worse, and I arrived at the meeting praying that a sales pitch was the only thing that would come out of my mouth. That night, I recounted these troubles to my husband, Dave. He pointed out that Yahoo, where he worked at the time, had designated parking for expectant mothers at the front of each building.
The next day, I marched in—or more like waddled in—to see Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin in their office, which was really just a large room with toys and gadgets strewn all over the floor. I found Sergey in a yoga position in the corner and announced that we needed pregnancy parking, preferably sooner rather than later. He looked up at me and agreed immediately, noting that he had never thought about it before.
To this day, I’m embarrassed that I didn’t realize that pregnant women needed reserved parking until I experienced my own aching feet. As one of Google’s most senior women, didn’t I have a special responsibility to think of this? But like Sergey, it had never occurred to me. The other pregnant women must have suffered in silence, not wanting to ask for special treatment. Or maybe they lacked the confidence or seniority to demand that the problem be fixed. Having one pregnant woman at the top—even one who looked like a whale—made the difference.”
Excerpt From: Sheryl Sandberg. “Lean In.”
I took this part out of the book because last month I realized I had been like Sergey oblivious of many issues women face. I had decided to read something a bit different, something I wouldn’t read a normal day, usually, when I see a book targetted at women I don’t read it because I believe it’s not for me, this time I decided to defy the norm. And as I began reading with doubts still in my head whether it was going to be worth my while I got the answer when I read this
“I am also writing this for any man who wants to understand what a woman—a colleague, wife, mother, or daughter—is up against so that he can do his part to build an equal world.”
And that was it, It took me on a journey that changed my perspective forever, the book does offer a ton of useful career and family advice most of which I found very useful even to me, I recommend the book.
Since September 2008 up till date, I’ve always been in a class that has a Female to Male ratio of at least 2:1 and since about 9 months of the year is spent in school it means most of the year is spent around females, In as much as I’ve tried to understand and relate with females in the best possible way I can, I barely still understand what it’s like being a female ( duh obviously). I’m sure many people are familiar with gender inequality issues but here are a few out of many mentioned in the book that got to me.
Career progression often depends upon taking risks and advocating for oneself- traits that girls are discouraged from exhibiting.
When asked to choose between marriage and career, female college students are twice as likely to choose marriage as their male classmates
Only 5% of the women believed their spouse would alter his career to accommodate their child
Study after study suggests that the pressure society places on women to stay home and do “what’s best for the child” is based on emotion, not evidence
Research already suggests that companies with more women in leadership roles have better work-life policies, smaller gender gaps in executive compensation, and more women in midlevel management
There are many factors that contribute to gender Inequality but from my own perspective here’s one I’m familiar with and I believe you might be, In school boys and girls are primarily made to compete against each other, it’s seen as a shameful to the guys when a girl comes top in class ( which they mostly do), I can understand the idea and the motivation tactic but I feel it has adverse effect on guys as we tend to console ourselves that after all, they’d still end up being housewives or in the kitchen. For ladies, I suppose many ladies don’t deem it fit to put in their best as they feel they’d still be subjected to the expectations of the society. The world is far from reaching gender equality and while we are making effort towards it, here’s my commitment, my own way of leaning In.
Wife: I’d try my best support you in achieving your dreams, making sacrifices for the family especially in the early stages of raising our kids. We’d play to our strengths and not necessarily to what the world expects us to do.
Son(s): It’s okay for girls to come first in class or test ( your best effort is enough), men are the head of the home and not the class so don’t start exercising any rights or thinking you’re entitled to certain things early in life.
Daughter(s): The world isn’t fair, you’re not lower or less powerful than any guy, with time they’d understand.
Female Friend/Colleague/Anyone: I’d try to lean in and listen more, be more outspoken where I notice irregularities, of course, I’m not one of them.
Male Friend/Colleague/Anyone: I’d try to show you the light, there’s a better way to think, I hope you choose to Lean In too.
In as much as I’m not a fan of extremist feminist movements (there must be balance), I believe things can be better.
We need to be grateful for what we have but dissatisfied with the status quo. This dissatisfaction spurs the charge for change. We must keep going.
*A feminist is someone who believes in social, political, and economic equality of the sexes.