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'Lean In'
"I'm aware enough to know that every working woman in the United States doesn't get what she wants from her work ... but I do believe that we have made great strides in getting there."
-- Andy Steiner

by Andy Steiner

When I was a girl, I figured that, thanks to feminism, one day I could have a career like that of Sheryl Sandberg, CEO of Facebook and author of the bestselling "Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead."

Today - 40 years, one husband and two children later - I am not a high-flying international executive, but I do continue to feel engaged and excited - and fairly compensated - by my own custom-crafted career as a freelance writer and editor. Thanks, in part, to feminism, I've created the perfect job for me.

In fact, most of my female friends who juggle work and family have managed in some part at least to create careers that suit their lives. Thanks to supportive partners, flexible work schedules, enlightened bosses, understanding children - and feminism - we manage to make it work most of the time.

That ability for a woman to craft a career that best suits her life, I believe, is one of the least-discussed accomplishments of the women's movement. In the last three decades, many young women have gone to college and earned degrees that put them in the running for professional careers. With those degrees in hand, and a few years of early struggle under their belts, they've built the confidence required to ask for what they want in their careers and learned to seek out jobs that provide the flexibility and benefits they desire.

I'm aware enough to know that every working woman in the United States doesn't always get what she wants from her work, that we still need added social and governmental support to get closer to reaching that goal, but I do believe that we have made great strides in getting there.

In its own way, Sandberg's "Lean In" serves as a guidebook of sorts for women who struggle to strike a balance between work and family, especially those who work in the corporate world.

It's great to see that the female CEO of a huge company - even though she admits her early struggle to call herself a feminist - takes such a feminist approach to running a corporation.

Sandberg's personal stories of struggle, guilt and doubt when trying to juggle family and career add a humanizing touch to what otherwise could have felt like a dry how-to manual. (And her impassioned call for shared parenting is an important message for all of her readers, both male and female.)

It gives me hope that Sandberg - and the legions of working women who dare to demand that their work works for their lives - will continue to change everyone's careers for the better.

Andy Steiner is a freelance writer and editor who lives in St. Paul. Her latest book, "How To Survive: The Extraordinary Resilience of Ordinary People," will be published next year by Think Piece Publishing. She is a former editor of the Minnesota Women's Press.

Andy Steiner's suggestions for books on women and careers
Bossypants by Tina Fey
Get to Work ... And Get a Life, Before It's Too Late by Linda R. Hirshman
The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron
Mommy Wars: Stay-at-Home and Career Moms Face Off on Their Choices, Their Lives, Their Families by Leslie Morgan Steiner
How She Really Does It: Secrets of Successful Stay-at-Work Moms by Wendy Sachs

What's on your bookshelf?
Send us 450 words about your booklife, plus your list of five related books by women authors. editor@womenspress.com

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