How Sheryl Sandberg's "Lean In" movement inspired one woman to save lives
She has consistently stated that “leaning in” is not just for ambitious, aspiring female CEO’s, and indeed, the impact of Sheryl Sandberg’s book and subsequent movement, “Lean In” has extended beyond the boardroom. At a recent meeting with Bloggers, Sandberg stressed on the importance of changing one’s attitude towards maintaining a home and work balance, and spoke at length about the need to reframe ones thought process, get support from loved ones, and acknowledge their own right to hold a position of authority. The attitude of stepping in and standing up for their perspectives can and should be extended to every aspect of a woman’s life, especially during circumstances when they are judged or discriminated against without reason. A recent case, which illustrates the impact of Lean In on women, is presented in the form of Debra Fine, a Los Angeles native. Fine is one of many mothers who also juggle high-pressure careers. She was in the news recently for being shot in the process of trying to save citizens from an armed gunman. Upon surviving the shooting, Fine was then subjected to a barrage of senseless bullying from the media, which questioned her brave actions. A male talk show host snorted about her “stupidity” and wondered why she would be stupid enough to place herself in the middle of a shooting; Fine called in and stated, “ I have a survival instinct that enabled me to not only take a bullet, but be smart enough to tuck and roll”. The show host apologized to Fine. The questioning and criticism of her brave action however, extended to those who said, “women don’t even know what ammunition is”. What helped Fine recover from her injuries and heal from the criticism was the support of her Lean In circle of female friends, who stood by her while the rest of the world judged her. Interestingly, it was widely acknowledged that had a man done what she did, i.e. save lives, he would have received adulation and support for his actions. Why then, did Fine not receive the same positive reaction? Fine’s actions merited support and respect, and unfortunately did not receive it, due to her not being male. Among the many valuable lessons, which can be learned from Fine’s story, and from the Lean In movement, is that its lessons and strategies are not just restricted to those high-powered boardrooms and powerful women in suits. Lean In is about empowerment on multiple levels, and its messages can be applied to a multitude of situations, some of which, as in the aforementioned case, involve defending ones self from sexist comments and discrimination based on gender. Sandberg has often asked what women would be if they were not “afraid”. Fear comes in a number of forms, and it can result in women keeping quiet and stepping back because they do not feel that it is important to stand up for themselves. If this attitude were to be applied to a work situation, or even to Debra Fine’s situation, it would allow other people to continue demeaning and trivializing the aptitude and role of women. It is therefore important to be fearless and stand up for ones rights, be it at work or in ones daily life. This is one of many valuable lessons to be learned from Lean In.