I’m reading Sheryl Sandberg’s book, Lean In. It’s inspiring, honest, and chock full of good advice for women seeking to climb the corporate jungle gym. Unfortunately, I’m not that monkey.
Women like me never made it to Harvard. We didn’t take Larry Summer’s economics class and our first jobs weren’t at the World Bank. No, we worked as waitresses and sales clerks, in daycare centers and hotels – underpaid cogs in the service industry.
Men slapped our asses while we slung their drinks. Harried parents took advantage of us and regularly picked their children up late. For us, the glass ceiling was so far away we only occasionally caught a glint on its surface while we dreamed of bigger things, a life that wouldn’t grind us down, some money in the bank.
On my way to work this morning, I thought a lot about what I’ve done and who I’ve become since those early days. I did achieve a modest wealth. I did receive a fair share of accolade, but I did it the hard way. Without a degree and with three children in tow, ordinary doors weren’t open to me.
Women like me find their way through cracks in the wall. Sometimes we even leave the building. Rather than live under that far away glass ceiling, we step outside and build a new structure, one that works for us and our families. It is this movement that may just change our world. Women in leadership positions are essential, but women need to create those positions, not just attain them.
As Seth Godin says frequently, we live in a permission economy. Women are great at asking permission. We thrive in community situations. We know how to work as a team. There has never been a better time to pursue our passions and make a living from our dreams.