Bloggers Sound Off About Leaning In and Sheryl Sandberg at BlogHer ‘13

BlogHer Original Post

Last week, BlogHer Editor-in-Chief Stacy Morrison summed up what she heard Sheryl Sandberg say at BlogHer ’13, but many others of the 4000 women who were also sitting in the McCormick Conference Center in Chicago have also been blogging about their impressions from Sandberg’s keynote speech and the "Lean In" circles they participated in afterwards. The Facebook COO and Lean In author's speech even caught the attention of CNN.

Image Credit: Danielle Tsi Photography

Here's What Bloggers Are Saying About Sheryl Sandberg at BlogHer '13

Many bloggers were inspired and encouraged by Sandberg’s call to action, “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”

Digital Sisterhood’s Ananda Leeke sums up the takeaways on her own blog:

  • Believe in yourself.
  • I am unapologetically a feminist (inspired by Mellody Hobson, President of Ariel Investments and one of my virtual mentors from the 1990s).
  • Reach for any ambition.
  • Ask yourself what would you do if you weren’t afraid, and then reach for those ambitions.
  • BlogHer's Family Editor Jenna Hatfield writes at Stop Drop and Blog:

    I felt a physical tug on my being. My attention withdrew from the table for a moment and I sat face-to-face with all of the things I’ve never done for so many reasons — or, rather, for so many excuses being posed as reasons.

    Amy Name is Amy:

    While waiting for my chance for a photo op, I watched as she interacted with the other bloggers, shaking each one’s hand and asking where the woman lived and then patiently listening to anecdotes about how that woman had been inspired by her book to lean in. She then took two of those stories – complete with the women’s names and where they were from – and referenced them during her interview on stage. Like, that’s a pro, man.

    Image Credit: Danielle Tsi Photography

    Perhaps other women were inspired by BlogHer CEO Lisa Stone, as some bloggers wrote that Sandberg’s question reaffirmed their own choices to step out on a limb and follow their hearts to create their websites or businesses.

    Joanne Ozug writes about quitting a career in finance to start her cooking blog, Fifteen Spatulas:

    Yeah, pretty much everyone I knew thought I was nuts. And for the first couple of years, I had doubts about myself and my decision. I’d ask myself what on earth I was doing, and how I should get a “real job” related to my degree. Anyone who has started a blog will tell you that you spend a tremendous amount of time in the first couple of years trying to build up your presence, unsure of whether or not it will go anywhere. It can be terrifying when you start to question yourself.

    Sheryl’s keynote was a great time for me to reflect on my journey, and I have loved sharing food with you and interacting with so many cooking-from-scratch fans all around the world.

    Erin Petron Gosser, who blogs at Chicago Now as Social Butterfly Momalso resonated with Sandberg's question, "What would you do if you weren't afraid?".

    That quote made me think about why I started this blog in the first place. I wanted to maintain my active, social life, and I wanted to encourage others to do so.

    Karen Sandoval attended the with her young adult daughter. She worried that she did not raise her daughter to be all that she could be, but the experience of attending Sandberg’s keynote speech together reassures her:

    But now she knows. She learned. She Leaned In with Sheryl at BlogHer13. And it’s never to late to let your daughter know this… reinforce this in her, always. Our girls can be anything, do anything, can rise to the top of the cooperate ladders.

    Image Credit: Danielle Tsi Photography

    Not everyone was eager to “Lean In”.

    Lindsey Dahl at The Broad Side says she appreciates what Sandberg is doing, but:

    I couldn’t help but feel like her message was reducing a complex issue into catchy, tweetable sound bites. It felt thin. I watched her short promotional video of her new women’s empowerment non-profit and it felt like I was watching an insincere weight loss infomercial. “I used to be afraid, and after a 12 week program with Sheryl Sandberg, now I’m not!”

    Aisha Sultana, one of the BlogHer ’13 International Activist Scholarship recipients, questioned Facebook’s policies towards women, asking Sandberg why Facebook had failed to remove rape threats but had taken down breastfeeding photos.

    I am sure she is trying to champion of women rights in the "new era" but this is not 1930s, when rich white women decided that it was time to stroll out of their tea rooms. This is 2013, we have moved past first-wave feminism, we speak inter-sectionality of gender with race, class, sexuality and cyber space.

    The Jenny Evolution thinks the "Lean In" movement is too focused on career, something not all women aspire to.

    Ms. Sandberg, it is time for you to take a step back from the corporate table and recognize there are many ways to define oneself as a woman and a success. By excluding the vast majority of your female community, you are alienating those who would benefit from understanding that being female doesn’t preclude us from doing what we want and going after it.

    What do you think about Sheryl Sandberg's message at BlogHer '13? Tell us in the comments.

    News and Politics Editor Grace Hwang Lynch blogs about raising an Asian mixed-race family at HapaMama.

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