Can women afford to lean out instead of leaning in?

photo via foreignpolicy.com
photo via foreignpolicy.com

I’ve already shared some of my issues with the Lean In brand of feminism promoted by Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg. Rosa Brooks at Foreign Policy (whose work on drones I greatly admire) has a new piece arguing that leaning in too much is unhealthy for women:

Ladies, if we want to rule the world — or even just gain an equitable share of leadership positions — we need to stop leaning in. It’s killing us.

We need to fight for our right to lean back and put our feet up.

Here’s the thing: We’ve managed to create a world in which ubiquity is valued above all. If you’re not at your desk every night until nine, your commitment to the job is questioned. If you’re not checking email 24/7, you’re not a reliable colleague.

But in a world in which leaning in at work has come to mean doing more work, more often, for longer hours, women will disproportionately drop out or be eased out.

Why? Because unlike most men, women — particularly women with children — are still expected to work that “second shift” at home. Men today do more housework and childcare than men in their fathers’ generation, but women today still do far more housework and childcare than men.

Few people would dispute that we are overworked and could all benefit from pulling back and putting things in perspective. Brooks acknowledges that this is a problem with our culture as a whole, but as she points out, there are additional expectations foisted upon women that can make the expectations doubly difficult.

Continue reading “Can women afford to lean out instead of leaning in?”

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