There has been so much talk generated by Sheryl Sandberg’s book and her discussion of the need for women to Lean In. She presents some great thoughts in her book. As a Baby Boomer, I strongly feel that I did my best to help pave the way for the women of future generations to have better opportunities and true equality in the workforce.
While I didn’t have jobs with the visibility Sheryl had or meet people who were quite as well known, I can relate to her experiences and could write many stories of times when I was faced with similar challenges. With that in mind, I love seeing her advise women of today to lean in, sit at the table, take risks, challenge ourselves, and ask for promotions. There are a lot of women advancing through corporate America who can benefit greatly from her shared experience and wisdom.
However, I also look at how the workforce of today is changing and think Millennial women who are just starting their careers have a lot different challenges and are really concerned with different issues from the women who entered the workforce before them. There are currently more women graduating from college than men. This means there are more women competing for those college graduate entry level jobs than men. There are also more Millennial women in management positions than Millennial men. This is a major shift starting with the younger workers in the organization. Women are working for women and with women as peers. There is more acceptance of the way women think and act as leaders because there are so many more of them successfully leading teams, departments, organizations, and even major companies. The days of only one woman sitting at the table with the men are disappearing so that now a woman in a leadership role doesn’t feel like she has to represent the rest of the women in the company, fight off self-doubt about being there, or feel like she should apologize for being in the room. Millennial women in the workforce have a lot of opportunity ahead and many seem prepared and ready to get started. I hope they will take the lessons from the women who went before them and use the creativity their generation is known for to do some great things in the future.