Book Review                                      Online Exclusive


Lean In 

Women, Work and the Will to Lead


by Sheryl Sandberg, Alfred A.Knopf, New York, N.Y., 2013, 224 pp., $24.95 softcover

Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead by Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg has a powerful message for superintendents. Sandberg shares important stories about building confidence, finding mentors, allowing oneself to fully engage and participate, laughing at the ironies, being an opportunist and a quick learner, recognizing institutional rigidity and becoming a knowledgeable leader in the workplace.

In book talks and interviews in recent months, Sandberg has described the leadership ambition gap as women holding themselves back. She believes women can do better by raising their hands more, leaning in and not being intimidated to reach for power even though it may mean less popularity in some circles. She acknowledges women receive more college degrees than men yet do not gain more CEO positions or Congressional seats or board of directors posts. She urges women to own their success and promote themselves. Advocacy is essential in all of life’s endeavors.

Lean In is a useful for school leaders on several levels. First, superintendents work in settings where typically 80 percent of the employees are women. Second, school leaders provide vision, supervision and guidance for students, half of whom are female. Third, superintendents have only reached the 20 percent mark in attaining appointments as the chief executive officers in school districts in the United States.

Sandberg’s book can provide all school leaders with a renewed energy to encourage female students and employees to step up. Her message may serve as the impetus to encourage female teachers to consider leadership positions in schools. And her ideas can make those of us in the superintendency more sensitive to the needs of women in the workplace.

After reading Lean In, one of my colleagues told me she was going to add a parking lot space for “Expectant Mothers.” She said, “There are many little steps that I can take that will make a difference and make a statement.”

Sandberg has provided us with a splendid opportunity to talk about how we need to support each other in the workplace. She has prompted us to think with more clarity about how we unwittingly discriminate against girls in class and women at work. She has given us the opportunity to rethink our roles as mentor, champion and coaches for those taking the first tentative steps toward leadership. She has given us a lovely gift — the opportunity to re-energize the effort to maximize the talents and skills of 50 percent of the population to benefit 100 percent.

What a gift! Let’s be sure we use it for the good of all.

Reviewed by Sarah Jerome, superintendent, Arlington Heights School District 25, Arlington Heights, Ill.



Give your feedback

Share this article

Order this issue