Still, Sandberg is personally revealing in other ways that make her far more accessible than so many reviewers have let on. She gained 70 pounds in her first pregnancy and had morning sickness the whole nine months. She got married at 24 and was divorced a year later. It took her a year to find a job in Silicon Valley. She’s been the subject of sexist comments, such as the client who wanted to set her up with his son. She’s cried at work (many times, apparently). And throughout her life and career, she confesses to having felt at times like an imposter. She admits, repeatedly, to worrying too much about being liked.
Sandberg may have resources most of us could only dream of, making it hard to identify with some of the passages about work-life balance (a phrase she knocks, thankfully). But for professional women — who are clearly the book’s audience — many of the other revealing personal stories she shares do make her book a relatable and, yes, likeable read.
>>What did you learn? Sandberg’s book is chock-full of demographic, social science and workplace research that feels overly familiar at times. But she also includes a number of surprising studies that make for perfect cocktail party talk, as well as provide inspiration for changing the way we think. For instance, she writes about a 2008 study that found that when girls are reminded of their gender before taking a test — even by simply checking an “M” or an “F” at the start of the exam — they don’t perform as well. Disturbing. And who knew that the U.S. Census Bureau calls it “care” when fathers watch the kids while the mother is at work, yet when mothers do the same it’s simply “parenting”? It also considers mothers the “designated parent” when both mommy and daddy are present in the home.
And for any working moms who feel guilty about not spending enough time with their kids, Sandberg provides some illuminating — and reassuring — figures. In 1975, stay-at-home mothers reported spending an average of 11 hours a week on primary child care, while those employed outside the home said they spent six hours doing the same. Twenty-five years later, as expectations have risen for how involved parents should be in their kids’ lives, employed mothers reported spending 11 hours on childcare. So in a sense, working moms today are spending just as much time with their kids as the stay-at-home moms of yesteryear did.
>>So would you recommend it? Sandberg’s book has its flaws, but at 173 pages it’s a quick read that’s worth it — if you have the time. Yes, the working-mom stories sometimes felt off key. I’ve never heard a breast pump that sounds like a fire truck (as Sandberg described hers to her colleagues) and the example of the executive who asked her boyfriend to join her on a work trip to Sao Paulo will resonate with only a few. For many women not in the managerial ranks, logging back on after dinner after leaving work at 5:30 isn’t “flextime” (as Sandberg calls her schedule), it’s overtime. And I’m not sure how comfortable I’d feel if a senior executive — male or female — asked me whether I was considering having a baby, a tactic Sandberg advocates.