The “Lean In” concept for women seeking career advancement in the corporate world found a place in the U.S. armed services this week. Defense Secretary Ashton Carton announced Monday a plan to allow female troop and civilian workers time during the workday to meet in “Lean In” circles for informal discussions about advancing women in the military.
The idea was inspired by Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg, the author of a book titled “Lean In,” who visited the Pentagon to host an inaugural discussion group with 15 female troops from all ranks and branches of the service, The Hill reported. "These circles have a proven record of empowering women throughout our ranks, and giving men a way to lean in also and support their female colleagues and improve themselves," Carter said.
The circles, intended also to be a morale booster, have the “unconditional support” of the Department of Defense, Carter added. "I highly encourage our people to take advantage of DOD spaces made available before, after, or during work hours to take place in these peer mentoring relationships," he said.
There were 203,000 women in the U.S. military in 2011, according to Pentagon figures reported by CNN. That’s about 14.5 percent of a 1.4 million active-duty force. The numbers broke down to about 74,000 women in the Army, 53,000 in the Navy, 62,000 in the Air Force and 14,000 in the Marine Corps.
Sandberg’s book, which topped the Amazon and New York Times bestseller lists in 2013, makes the argument that women have as big a role to play in their advancement in the executive ranks as men do. "A more diverse force is a stronger force,” Sandberg said in remarks after the first military “Lean In” circle, according to The Hill. “We know that diverse organizations get better results, and that means using the full talents of our population."