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Books 7 & 8 - 2016

Book 7: Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg – 220 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In is a massive cultural phenomenon and its title has become an instant catchphrase for empowering women. The book soared to the top of bestseller lists internationally, igniting global conversations about women and ambition. Sandberg packed theatres, dominated opinion pages, appeared on every major television show and on the cover of Time magazine, and sparked ferocious debate about women and leadership. Ask most women whether they have the right to equality at work and the answer will be a resounding yes, but ask the same women whether they'd feel confident asking for a raise, a promotion, or equal pay, and some reticence creeps in. The statistics, although an improvement on previous decades, are certainly not in women's favour - of 197 heads of state, only twenty-two are women. Women hold just 20 percent of seats in parliaments globally, and in the world of big business, a meagre eighteen of the Fortune 500 CEOs are women. In Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg - Facebook COO and one of Fortune magazine's Most Powerful Women in Business - draws on her own experience of working in some of the world's most successful businesses and looks at what women can do to help themselves, and make the small changes in their life that can effect change on a more universal scale.

Thoughts:
I have spent more meetings than I care to count being the only woman in the room, and I’ve been told more than once that I am too bossy. I’ve been rejected for jobs purely because I’m female, given my qualifications were the equivalent of my male competition, and I’ve been told even by other women to expect to not get jobs because of my gender. My career is important to me, so I’m often on the look out for advice from more successful women on how to cope with the challenges of being female in the modern workplace. Sandberg is an exemplary example of a successful woman, so I sought out her book with much interest. Not long after I read this book, I had a conversation with the CFO I work for on his thoughts on the book, and it gave me a different interpretation to ponder. Personally, I thought Sandberg made some valid points that I’ve taken with me and think of when dealing with problems at work, and regarding my career. But I didn’t agree with all of them, and that’s okay too. My CFO thought Sandberg focused too much on telling women to behavior like men, and that both genders should bring their own unique talents to the workplace. I’m not sure I got that from the book, but it made me think a little more about some of Sandberg’s points, particularly the ones I disagreed with. Moreover, Sandberg’s advice is based on her own experiences, and she herself acknowledges how fortunate she has been in working with some of her mentors. The challenges of the workplace are quite different between Australia and the U.S. and I wont deny being jealous of Sandberg’s opportunities. This obviously doesn’t change the fact that Sandberg also worked hard and probably deserved the opportunities she was given – more that the same access simply doesn’t exist in Australia (having said that, I’ll take our annual leave benefits any day of the week!). Ultimately, this book is a fascinating insight into one woman’s experience, and while most certainly not a bible on how to be a woman in the workplace, it provides some good advice to take on board as appropriate. Definitely worth a read!


7 / 50 books. 14% done!


1661 / 15000 pages. 11% done!

Book 8: The First Ladies of the United States of America by Margaret Brown Klapthor and Allida M. Black – 93 pages

Description from Goodreads.com:
Published to accompany the book Presidents of the United States of America is, of course, a book on the First Ladies. It provides considered insight into the lives of the First Ladies, drawing on portraits from the White House Historical Association's collection.

Thoughts:
When I went to America in 2015, I visited Little Rock, Arkansas, and thus was able to make a trip to Bill Clinton’s Presidential Library (which was very cool!). While there I picked up some tourist books about the presidents and first ladies of the United States. For whatever reason, I read this one first. It was a quite an interesting read, especially given I wasn’t aware that sisters, nieces and daughters had acted in the role of quasi First Lady, as seems to be happening at the moment with Donald Trump and his daughter Ivanka. Also interesting to see the evolving role of the First Lady from hostess to taking a more active role in policy. Not overly detailed, but a good starting point for anyone interested in American politics.


8 / 50 books. 16% done!


1754 / 15000 pages. 12% done!

Currently reading:
-        Wrath of Aphrodite by Bess T. Chappas – 207 pages
-        My Life by Bill Clinton – 957 pages
-        Four to Score by Janet Evanovich – 311 pages

And coming up:
-        The Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant: Volume 3: White Gold Wielder by Stephen Donaldson – 500 pages
-        The Odyssey by Homer – 324 pages
-        Reengineering the University: How to be Mission Centered, Market Smart, and Margin Conscious by William F. Massy – 280 pages

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