Her theme is that women today have plenty of career options, an improvement over previous generations, but women still aren't realizing their potential. It must be somebody's fault. Well, actually, she thinks it's everybody's fault, including women themselves.
Not everyone agrees. Here is a Wall Street Journal book review:
Do as I Do, Not as I Say
The reviewer agrees with Ms. Sandberg that women (on average) have different ambitions than men (on average). Unlike Ms. Sandberg, however, the reviewer doesn't necessarily see this as a problem.
Another view about Ms. Sandberg comes from Penelope Trunk, who once worked in the high-tech industry like Ms. Sandberg. Ms. Trunk, now a farm wife, co-founded Brazen Careerist, her third startup. Brazen Careerist (sounds like "leaning in," doesn't it?) is "a career management tool for next-generation professionals." From her home on the farm she provides executive coaching. Bio here.
That background gives Ms. Trunk a unique perspective on this topic. The blog post at the first link in the preceding paragraph is well worth the time to read. Read the comments, too. The conversation in the comments draws out Ms. Trunk, and she explains more fully why she feels the way she feels. Some of the comments are very insightful, others are quite moving.
Ms. Sandberg has two degrees from Harvard and is a protégée of former Harvard University President Larry Summers. Susan Patton is another Ivy League educated woman who has been in the news recently because of her advice to women.
Ms. Patton was the first woman in her family to go to college. In 1973 she entered Princeton University in only the fifth co-educational class in the school's history. In 1977 she graduated as Class President. Today she runs her own consulting firm specializing in marketing and human resources, including executive coaching. She lives not on a farm but on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Bio here.
Ms. Patton recently wrote a letter to the Daily Princetonian: "Advice for the young women of Princeton":
Forget about having it all, or not having it all, leaning in or leaning out — here’s what you really need to know that nobody is telling you.
Her message was that finding the right man to marry is important to happiness, and that college is the best hunting ground.
Well, Ms. Patton's letter is controversial, to put it mildly. Here is a collection of responses on the Daily Princetonian. Here is a column on the Huffington Post by a woman who was "dumbfounded" by Ms. Patton's letter. Here is Ms. Patton's response on the Huffington Post.
Ms. Patton graduated from college the same year I did. Surely women who graduated from college more recently don't feel that way, right? Not so fast. Here is a column by a recent Dartmouth graduate who supports Ms. Patton's message:
Find a Man Today, Graduate Tomorrow
Here are two more well-educated women who support Ms. Patton's message:
Jean Kaufman, aka neo-neocon
All of the above links are about what women think. Are men allowed to have opinions? Probably not. Even President Obama is in trouble for recently expressing his opinion that the attorney general of California is an attractive woman. What was he thinking??
Nevertheless, at some risk, I offer these observations from a happily married man with a son and two daughters, all in their 20s and out of college:
1. Women do not all think like men, and women do not all think like each other. Vive la différence!
2. Feminists are intolerant of this kind of diversity.
Men have been thinking about what women want for a long time. Does modern culture provide a better answer than Geoffrey Chaucer in the 14th century?
UPDATE 10/20/13: Here are more views on the theme of this blog post by two eminent women.
Christina Hoff Sommers is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. Last March she wrote this column for The Atlantic magazine:
What 'Lean In' Misunderstands About Gender Differences
Dr. Sommers' column supports an observation I made to Nancy some years ago: Men helped create our modern world where women have more choices about how to live their lives. Our reward is to be criticized for the choices women make.
Camille Paglia is a professor of humanities at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. On 10/08/13 she participated in a Janus Forum debate at American University on "Gender Roles: Nature or Nurture?" Her debate opponent was Prof. Jane Flax of American University. Interestingly, both women have PhD's from Yale. Christina Hoff Sommers attended the debate and wrote about it:
Comet Camille Paglia comes to AU and talks gender
Follow the link at the end to read Dr. Paglia's opening comments. They are thought-provoking. There's even a Vermont connection!