Why Latinas Should 'Lean In' to Sheryl Sandberg's Community

Mature beautiful hispanic woman posing with her arms crossed on white background
Mature beautiful hispanic woman posing with her arms crossed on white background

Are women their worst enemy when it comes to their careers? Do women sabotage their own success?

That's what Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg's first book, Lean In, claims. Sandberg's first book, more like a memoir, on women and leadership, is stirring controversy for her views that women are their own worst enemies when it comes to their careers.

So, what is holding back women in the workforce?

While not all of us have two Harvard degrees or were taken under Larry Summer's wing like Sandberg, we certainly have surpassed men in terms of achieving advanced college degrees, according to the Census. Just look at the data in this CBS News story.

That's right; women are getting more college degrees, medical degrees, and Ph.D's versus their male counterparts. But we still do not have the leadership roles or the seat at the C-suite that we deserve.

So, what is holding back women in the workforce? Is it ourselves? Is it society? Is it an institutional problem?

Or is it our emotions?

Can our emotions be the culprit? At times, I think if we managed to remove ourselves from the emotional aspect of things, we would be better off. We are emotionally attached to our jobs, our relationships and even to those beautiful pair of Christian Louboutins shoes we purchased (on credit). Why? Because we got all emotional about things.

"Compared to our male colleagues, fewer of us aspire to senior positions," Sandberg writes. It's not exactly that they're to blame, she notes. Females are raised from birth to have different expectations. There's an ambition gap, and it's wreaking havoc on women's ability to advance. "My argument is that getting rid of these internal barriers is critical to gaining power. We can dismantle the hurdles in ourselves today. We can start this very moment," from her Time interview.

I think as women, and especially Latinas, we are wired differently and it's not enforced in our upbringing to be competitive or to be ambitious. As a daughter of Dominican immigrant parents, I was pushed to be successful, to pursue the American dream. But the bar was not that high. I was the first one in my family to graduate college. I was very driven from an early age, but it was always ingrained -- family first and foremost. So was the spirit of teamwork and collaboration. And at times to think more with our hearts than with our heads.

I am always fascinated how men can have healthy debates at work, even scream and curse at each other, and then go and play golf on the weekends. Business as usual.

Maybe Sheryl Sandberg is really on to something and her mission will change not only how society views us, but also how we view ourselves.

I'm starting, or shall I say 'leaning in' with my daughter and teaching her to think, analyze and even question things differently. She is only seven, but this is when confidence building is critical. I tell her to be more assertive and to be more aggressive.

I tell her all the time, "Don't beat around the bush. Be direct and straight forward about what you want." I'm also fending off any potential criticism of her being considered bossy for expressing her wants and needs to others. This trait is certaintly not considered negative in men.