A Call to Action! (Book Review)

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Lean In

How to unlock the potential of women entrepreneurs

Author Sheryl Sandberg

Publisher W H Allen

Price: 499

Pages: 232

A recent survey reveals that even though India has a higher percentage of entrepreneurs than most developed economies, the percentage of women entrepreneurs is lower than the global average. Women entrepreneurship thus holds tremendous unlock potential for new enterprises in India. But what is holding women back?

The chief operating officer of Facebook, Sheryl Sandberg, has followed up her 2010 Ted Talk on “Why we have too few women leaders” with a book that explores this question in greater depth. This book is a must read for both men and women. Some truths are difficult for men to understand as they live in a different world from that inhabited by women. For many women, the extent to which the world of men has been accepted as the norm, places on them success criteria that is not only difficult to achieve, but the very achievement is also a form of discredit. Sheryl talks about how success and likeability go hand in hand for men, but in the case of women more often than not success leads to dislike.

While acknowledging the great progress made for women’s equality, Sheryl goes through statistics and examples to show how much more needs to be done across the globe. Drawing examples from her own life and from the lives of other women, Sheryl shares the challenges that women face in the world of business and simultaneously talks about strategies that can help overcome them.

The title of the book Lean In is a message to women to work against the characteristic response to “hold back” that they have been conditioned by society to have, and to actually lean in and make themselves counted in all situations. While most of the advice is relevant for men and women, the crucial issues of childcare is dealt with forthrightly.  Sheryl urges women to creatively explore possibilities of combining the responsibilities of raising a family with running a challenging business assignment. The book has received a negative response from many people who see Sheryl’s “solutions” as simplistic and placing too much of the onus to change on individual women. But as a book, Lean In has succeeded even if its only achievement is starting a conversation on the issue of how to unlock the true potential of women.

In India we are blessed with relatively inexpensive childcare services, but women still need to make their “Partner and Real Partner.” The saying is true across both sexes – behind every successful person is a supportive partner!

Team Small Medium Entrepreneur


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