Monday, April 28, 2014

Should Women Lean In, Lean Back, or Lean at All?

Anybody in education these days knows that young women are doing very well. Women are accounting for a greater percentage of honors classes, college admissions, and graduate degrees. Even though females still trail in their participation in STEM-focused careers, they are making ground. And there are many reasons for this increasing success, not the least of which is their better organizational skills and greater ability to simply do what needs to be done in the classroom.

Granted, the glass ceiling still exists. And even though we may have our first female President, to follow our first Black President, there are still many barriers to leadership positions for women. This can be surprising when more research shows that it is Emotional Intelligence (EQ) and associated skills like empathy and listening that are often keys to success for the nation's CEOs. And with the rise of CEOs like Melissa Meyer at Yahoo, young women are hearing more encouragement to strive for leadership. These words of advice are coming from strong female leaders like Sheryl Sandberg, the Chief Operating Officer at Facebook, who encourages women to Lean In as a way to succeed. Her primary focus is about being diligent and committed to the "will to lead."

Of course, there are counter opinions from women as successful, and none more prominent than the woman who redefined media with the rise of an incredibly significant online newspaper. That would be Arianna Huffington and the In a recent article for, Hannah Rosin posits that Arianna's advice in her book Thrive: The Third Metric to Defining Success ... is not to "Lean In," but instead to lean back. It is a much more laid back approach to the pursuit of success and happiness.

Either way, leaning in or leaning back, women are definitely moving up.

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