Gina Barreca, columnist, essayist and UConn prof, is one of my heroes — funny, wise, and very, very smart. So, today, let’s celebrate the March 2016 publication of her latest book, If You Lean In, Will Men Just Look Down Your Blouse?
From the title essay, a laugh about lean-in leadership: “I sure do appreciate that Sandberg [business leader author of the book, Lean-In] uses the f word – “feminist” – to describe her work and her perspective; “feminist” is still the most intimidating f word in American. Lots of young women avoid the f word. I’ve had female students trip all over themselves to avoid using it: “I’m getting a doctoral fellowship from NASA after I complete my NEA grant, although I hope it’s the work I did for girls in Tanzania in the Peace Corps that’ll be my legacy. But I’m not a feminist. I like lipstick and want to get married one day.” They fear feminism is about wearing your hair in braids and yelling slogans blaming men for stuff.” (203-204)
But Barreca has a few witty words about Sandberg’s billionaire CEO privilege, because “not everybody has access to the same playing field as Sandberg and that point needs to be recognized. Some people are still on the public bus trying to get to the field where the game is being played; it takes a longer time if you have to transfer from one route to another.”
By the way, Barreca isn’t dissing Sandberg, but calling attention to the fact that women can torture ourselves by reading about successful leaders and comparing ourselves and our struggles to them, and imagining that we are failing instead of navigating our lives as best we can. That’s fatal for effectiveness in the workplace, no matter what our guru’s goals for us might be!
The essay is worth checking out, because she has asked women from many walkks of life about gender equity at work (Sandberg’s core goal), and created a beautiful, entertaining and touching essay that opens up women’s leadership issues and workforce equities and inequities in a way Sandberg’s book cannot, because the billionaire CEO writes from a different place of greater privilege and power.
We hardworking women should all have this book (and Barreca’s others as well!) on our shelf, as a drop-in, cheer up, think a bit, and get back to work cure for the high-pressure exercise of reading about super-hero leaders.
Learn more about Gina Barreca from her website…