The debate has started in the northern hemisphere countries about who’s to be blamed for the fact that women continue to lag behind men when it comes to climbing the corporate ladder. Sheryl Sandberg, in her new book “Lean in” puts the blame squarely on women’s shoulders.
After all, she argues, it is because women want to have children and care for them that we cannot compete with men in the corporate world. Sandberg urgently advises that if women want to compete with men, they have to behave like men. In other words, leave child bearing and childcare to others- in fact forget about having children, (maybe forget that you have children) and “lean in.” Meaning, put our shoulder to the wheel. Spend your weekends and evenings at work. Forget about a social life and ruthlessly pursue your work ambitions.
She is of the opinion that this will bring about equality and equity in the workplace.
Not that I have any particular ambitions to climb any corporate ladder – to the extent that such a ladder may exist in Namibia – when I look at my own life and the lives of my sisters (biological) who are all professionals, I see women who are working from the morning to the evening, then go home and continue working in the family. When at work, we do as more and better (more better as we say here) than (most) male colleagues who will go home and expect that there is a cooked meal. So maybe, Sandberg is not so wrong.
I almost conceded! Then I remembered the women who do give their all to their workplaces. They are there early, don’t go out to lunch, stay late and weekends, and still they are overlooked for promotions and pay increases. They do not have children, they do not have husbands, they do not have lovers who could possibly distract them. While these women are working their butts off, their male colleagues often are found clustering the water coolers, walking the golf courses or hogging the men’s clubs. The men are networking and forging relationships. This is what seems to count in the corporate world; Being in the “in” and exclusive boys-only clubs, in the inner circle. Too many men are all too happy to neglect their work duties- a woman will pick up the slack – their home and family duties – their wives will look after the house and children when she gets back. If she is too tired to do it herself, she will pay someone else to do it on her behalf. She will wear herself down, trying to catch up with the men who have made it to the top of the ladder. This is the game that women are excluded from. This is why we will almost get there, but not quite. The world Ms Sandberg, is a man’s world. Unless you can join the men’s exclusive zones, I am afraid, you will remain on the outside, doing your male bosses’ work!