a Getty Collection "Lean In" image
A Getty Collection “Lean In” image

The idea behind Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s best-selling book “Lean In” is to foster ambition among women and help them overcome challenges to get ahead, particularly in the workplace. The controversial book sparked a movement, one that’s spread to Louisville with the creation of “Lean In Circles.”

On March 12, a group of local women are organizing a launch party for Louisville Lean In Circles, which are small groups of up to 10 women who gather on a regular basis for networking and mentorship.

I’ve not read Sandberg’s book, so I will stick to the facts; after all, I’m in favor of things that empower women, give women a voice, and make us better role models.

But it’s worth noting that reaction to Sandberg’s book has been divisive. Divisive enough to lead to a cover story in Time Magazine called “Don’t Hate Her Because She’s Successful: Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg and Her Mission to Reboot Feminism.” Divisive enough for Sandberg to have been called out by notable feminists like bell hooks and Susan Faludi.

Sandberg herself admits in the introduction of her book that she’s “acutely aware that the vast majority of women are struggling to make ends meet and take care of their families. Parts of this book will be most relevant to women fortunate enough to have choices about how much and when and where to work.”

If you happen to fit that description, the Lean In movement could be for you.

Becky Ruby Swansburg, chief marketing officer of Stonewood Financial Solutions, one of the organizers of the local launch, says in an email:

There are lots of women in Louisville who would like to join a circle, but have no centralized place for them to connect. So… a group of us have gotten together to start Lean In Louisville. The group’s purpose is two-fold: (1) To connect women looking for a circle; and (2) to elevate the discussions around women and the workforce in our city.

We are hosting a kick-off event on Wednesday, March 12, at the Clifton Center. This will be an opportunity for interested women to learn more and actually find 8 other people to start a circle. I’ve been getting about 3 requests a week from women who want to join a circle – and that’s just from people who have heard I’m involved with this. So we know there is a lot of demand.

The Louisville launch party starts at 5 p.m. Wednesday, March 12, and you can sign up for the event on its eventbrite page.

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