Recently, Sandberg has gotten a lot of backlash certain opinions she’s expressed in her book “Lean In,” but the lovely thing about being an American is that we are all entitled to freely express our opinions, and I give her props for talking about a tough subject while many other women just grin and bear it. Among the many points she made, I particularly want to emphasize one that may not be getting enough attention– she is dead right when she warns that a key to success is the life partner a woman picks, and actually that applies to both sexes.
Back in the day, women generally stayed home and married guys, who were good providers. Guys were encouraged to find good eye-candy that could produce cute babies. Some have still not outgrown that old-fashioned mentality, but thankfully the women’s lib movement has totally changed the game in the last 50 years, so women no longer have to rely on their good looks or a good provider to come rescue them. All of these changes have profoundly impacted human relationships on many levels, including how women view other women and how men view women– not just in the workforce but outside the workforce.
Most women I grew up did not go to school to get their MRS degree, and most guys I know today are no longer interested in just nabbing the prettiest girl they can find. Faced with mounting pressures in the workforce, more guys are looking for a good intellectual counterpart that can share in the responsibility of providing financially for the family. To put it bluntly, having a functioning uterus is no longer enough in today’s world, and those of us trying to prove that we are so much more do have a hard time understanding why some of our female peers opt not to “lean in” and instead step aside and let the old boys network continue to function the way it has for centuries.
Despite all the progress women have made, the stats are pretty clear that we still have a ways to go. Just a few months ago Marie Claire did an issue about women in Congress. Even though we make up 51% of the U.S. population, only 17% are in Congress, and only 217 have held office compared to 11,279 men. The National Assoc. of Women Lawyers also did a study a few years ago that confirmed the retention rate of female attorneys at firms sucks, with less than 15% ever making equity partner. The number of women that make it to CEO positions of large companies is very similar, so really there is no need to debate this issue further– the numbers speak for themselves.
So back to Sandberg’s point, given the opportunity to lead, women do need to continue to make an effort to step up to positions of power– not just because we want to prove a point, but because only in leadership roles can we redefine a company’s attitude towards work-life balance. At the same time, by proving we can hold are own in the workforce and share in all the burdens of managing a household, we are alleviating some of the pressures while proving to our life partners how strong of an asset we are to them. We can have a deeper bond with our partners if we demonstrate that we understand their pressures because we are experiencing the same thing, and as a team we can all work together for the greater good of the family. Being able to have high-level discussions and demonstrate strong economic prowess is the new sexy– and if you throw in a nice meal and some racy lingerie every now and then, that is just a bonus.
By Regina A. DeMeo, Esq.