An event in Pierpont Commons Monday hoped to inspire when women to “lean in” in their career.
The event, “When and Why I Chose to Lean In,” was in part a product of Facebook’s chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg, and her book, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead. The feminist philosophy, supported in Sandberg’s 2010 TED talk, discusses methods to help women achieve their personal and professional goals. The Center for Entrepreneurship hosted the event, which featured four panelists who discussed some barriers to women achieving leadership roles, along with the balance of family and career.
The conversation started with the panelists’ “lean in” the times — moments when they were faced with unforeseen leadership opportunities.
Engineering Prof. Nancy Love, one of the panelists, said her moment was about having the confidence to push herself.
Love cited her former position as University chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering as an opportunity that allowed her to grow. She said the position was part of her leaving her original career path as a professor at Virginia Tech to become more of a leader.
The panel also discussed how their relations played a role in their “lean in” movement. Jan Garfinkle, founder and managing director of Arboretum Ventures, a venture capital firm specializing in healthcare, said her career was transformed when her husband, Mike, decided to quit his job and stay at home to take care of their children.
Garfinkle said the situation came as a shock.
“Who you marry might be the most important decision in your life — more so than the first job you have,” she said.
Christine Dauenhauer, director of global business services at Proctor & Gamble, emphasized the importance of a trusted relationship between employee and employer as a part of maintaining her balance.
Dauenhauer said maintaining communication with her boss while on maternity leave was a factor in getting the projects she wanted after returning to work — a topic broadened by Sandberg in Lean In.
Engineering graduate student Cecily Wu said learning about the panelists’ experiences was particularly valuable to her, as engineering is typically a male-dominated field.
“These women were brave in pursuing their career, and it was inspiring to learn about their experience,” Wu said.
Correction appended: A previous version of this article misspelled Jan Garfinkle’s name.