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Jeanne Reidy

Lean In, Operations

San Francisco, CA

No one had talked to women of my generation to prepare them for the challenges that women still face today and to give them the practical skills they can use to overcome them. Until Lean In. I’m leaning in so that women of future generations will be prepared when this happens to them or better yet, so that it won’t happen to them.

Law school is hard. Especially with 4 kids at home.

My Mom leaned way into law school after I, her youngest of four kids, was born. I often wonder how different my life would be had she kept working at her hourly neighborhood job instead of commuting to a big law firm downtown that demanded far more of her time and energy.

Sure, she would have made it to a few more of my school plays and wouldn’t have been late to pick me up from dance practice but I wouldn’t have seen first hand that women can break out of their comfort zones and do much more than they think they can – even in a male-dominated field. I’m sure most days she wanted to give up out of pure exhaustion and separation anxiety but she didn’t and has gone on instead to provide a woman’s voice and perspective in a male-dominated field, benefitting her clients, her firm and the young women following in her footsteps. She told me there were gender-challenges in the work world and mentioned there were hurdles to climb. She even said she was afraid to open her mouth at firm meetings for the first 10 years of her career. Still, she has always told me – and shown me – that women can do anything they want to and I believed her. I believed her until I actually entered the work force and was told that there were simply some jobs I would never get because I am a woman – especially working for a male direct-report because they required too much one-on-one time. Ironically, it is that one-on-one time that yields the most candid career advice and relationship building.

I noticed my male – and female – superiors talked to me differently than they did to my male counterparts. They commented on what I was wearing before they ever mentioned my recent work and long hours. Entering the twenty-first century workforce, I thought we were past this. I had been told we were past this. I was completely unprepared for what I actually encountered. No one had talked to women of my generation to prepare them for the challenges that women still face today and to give them the practical skills they can use to overcome them. Until Lean In.

I’m leaning in so that women of future generations will be prepared when this happens to them or better yet, so that it won’t happen to them. I’m leaning in so that when a woman drops a hard project deadline on her male counter parts, she will be respected instead of called bossy. I’m leaning in so that my nieces will know that it is alright to play with puzzles and computer learning games instead of dress up clothes and toys for cooking and cleaning.

Most of all, I’m leaning in because I believe what my Mom has shown me, that women can do whatever they want to do – especially with the support from their employers, partners and community. I’m so proud of what Lean In has accomplished so far and I know this is just the beginning.

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