This article appeared in The Guardian on Saturday, very timely in the context of my post last Friday about the way we condition girls and boys from a very young age to fulfil their respective roles. Right from the start we push girls into behaving a certain way. I can’t help wondering how many excellent women would have had completely different careers if they weren’t conditioned to behave like, well, girls. It’s a miracle that any woman ever gets to the point of challenging for corporate or political status, and when one does, she’s told that she won’t be valued for the behaviour she’s been taught to manifest all her life and that she should behave completely differently.
I can see in this context why a book like Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In got a mixed reception from feminists. Some, like me, loved it; it explained so much about why women don’t do better in the corporate world, about a lot of the things that had baffled me as I moved through my own career. On the other hand, other women accused Sandberg of a form of victim-blaming, of suggesting that women who don’t do well in that world, despite trying hard, are to blame for this because of their behaviour, rather than the corporate world being to blame for it because of systemic, deep-rooted and long-standing gender based discrimination. To be honest, I can see merit in both points of view.