All Articles Tagged "women and career"
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg causes a firestorm of debate with new book/campaign Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, in which she prods women to be more aggressive in business. In a blog post for The Washington Post, Mary C. Curtis asks “Do black women need lessons on ‘leaning in’?”
Sandberg claims that women are not successful in business, in large part, because they don’t play like the big boys. Some working women were offended by the theory, saying that it is easy for Sandberg to pass judgment as she had many helping hands on her way up the ladder. Other detractors say no matter how hard women fight for corporate rank, most will still hit a ceiling. It isn’t women who need to change, the argument goes, but the corporate culture.
And now many black female executives are giving their opinion. African-American women in the workplace most often face different obstacles. “[B]lack women have long been in the work force, facing different and difficult obstacles. Sandberg warns that being assertive, a positive quality in a man, can be judged as ‘too aggressive’ behavior in a women. For black women, the line between leaning in and being perceived as stereotypically pushy is awfully thin. The rewards may be less and the risks far greater,” writes Curtis.
Many feminists too are weighing in on the “lean in” discussion. And some are not upset, but rather, inspired by it. Gloria Steinem, notes Curtis, says Lean In “addresses internalized oppression, opposes the external barriers that create it, and urges women to support each other to fight both.” Her view is that critics “are making a deep if inadvertent point: Only in women is success viewed as a barrier to giving advice.”
But as Curtis points out the feminists movement over time has excluded black women. “When the feminist icon weighs in, it’s a reminder that the women’s movement, too, has long been accused of catering to elite circles and leaving others out,” she writes. But adds that many black women have been involved in the “lean in” conversation.
“It’s a conversation I’ve taken part in, reminding movement leaders of their debt to civil rights progress and occasional failure to acknowledge the added burdens working-class women and women of color face. The matter of ‘choice’ — the ultimate goal — isn’t always theirs to make,” she says.
What do you think about the “lean in” concept?
Can black women be bitter at times? Sure, but who in the black community isn’t bitter at times? During the days of slavery, the black woman had to work long and hard in the fields alongside her black brothers, or play the “mammy” to white kids or be the “massa’s” sex toy. After slavery, she, just like black men, had to bury her pain in order to take care of the home and children—mostly by herself. In various civil rights and black pride movements, she had to totally disregard her own needs for the greater good of the community. Even today, she has to balance the demands placed on her between pursuing her education, building her career and taking care of her family. Ultimately, it’s the SBW that must sacrifice her own needs and desires to fulfill the needs of other individuals. Though there is a great emotional and physical cost to being a SBW, we also have a great ability to move on and forward, despite all the setbacks and challenges. Do black women need a support system and to set boundaries from time to time? Sure, but I also don’t think we need to reject displaying our strength. Like any other woman on the planet, black women should understand that her strength is also the embodiment of femininity. It’s not the term (Strong Black Woman) that needs to change, but how we further subjugate the experience of black women that should be modified.
2) Become really great at self-promo. A women’s magazine recently noted that women are many more times apt to shrug off achievements than men. Be your own best cheerleader; think Donald Trump, think Diddy 3) Just say no, apparently (and I’m far from hatin’ but more so admiring) this is what the boys do. Look around. How many male assistants do you see in the work force? Find out what they are doing to leap over that track and use that strategy 4) Guys look out for solid girls. If you see a female really doing her thing; talk her up to others, partner with her, collaborate. It’s time for a new era, one which is more balanced in gender, with new ideas from women. There’s room for everyone and room for all images, not just the expected ones. Lauren DeLisa Coleman is a writer, host and thought-leader specializing in the diverse segment of the Gen Y demo, tech and its convergence with socio-economic concerns. She is also the CEO and founder of Punch Media Group, an edgy digital media and entertainment company which develops pop culture experience and branding strategy across digital platforms. Follow her @mediaempress