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Professor challenges ‘Lean In’ in wake of #MeToo movement

Kathryn Kao

March 27, 2018

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In 2013, Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer of Facebook, mapped out a plan for female success in her book “Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead.” Five years later, critics are challenging Sandberg’s advice for not going far enough.

In a recent CNN article, Laura Bierema, a professor in the University of Georgia’s College of Education, was quoted on the book’s message of women’s workplace empowerment, which some have said idealizes the “traditional leadership model” as the only path to gender equality.

Sandberg’s book "protected the patriarchy," said Bierema, who teaches adult learning, leadership and organizational development in the College’s department of lifelong education, administration and policy.

"If you want to address more equality and inclusion in the workplace, you have to challenge patriarchy, you have to recognize and challenge implicit bias," she added. "Those are the things that are really going to get traction if we're ever going to bring women into parity with men."

In addition to challenging traditional leadership roles, allowing women to define success for themselves, independent of corporate titles, can help push gender equality forward.

Bierema, who is currently in Padua, Italy, as a Fulbright scholar, researches workplace learning, career development, women's development, executive coaching and more. She has published over 40 articles that have appeared in both research and professional publications.

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