Karin Agness

Mattel has a new Barbie, “Entrepreneur Barbie,” hitting shelves this summer, complete with a tablet, smartphone, and briefcase. For only $12.99, you can own this Barbie who is “ready to make a bold business move and strike out on her own to achieve her career dreams.” She is “breaking through plastic ceilings and inspiring girls to follow their dreams,” and now has her own LinkedIn profile, hashtag, and billboard in Times Square with the slogan, “If you can dream it, you can be it.”

Entrepreneur Barbie’s entrance into the “girl power” discussion is a good reminder that girls not only can choose among a variety of careers, but would be wise to try to think entrepreneurially about building a fulfilling life both inside and outside of the workplace. Young girls shouldn’t just think about “leaning in” to work, but also “leaning in” to life—which includes discussions of marriage and family. Barbie now has over 150 careers—from registered nurse to Olympic athlete to astronaut to presidential candidate. And, as just about any young girl can tell you, she also has Ken.

That’s a message that often causes much hand-wringing among those on the Left who are laser-focused on seeing more women Fortune 500 CEOs. It’s okay to encourage women to “lean in” at work, but the truth is that most young women also care about how to “lean in” to life outside of work, including building a marriage and family.

Sheryl Sandberg’s book, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, has inspired women across the country to “lean in” at the workplace—by speaking up in meetings, taking on bigger projects, and asking for greater responsibility. Highlighted copies of the book are being shared, women speakers are being brought in, and Lean In Circles are popping up at corporate headquarters. There is some good advice in her book about how to move up the career ladder. But the problem is more complicated since most women want more than just a fancy title—they want a fulfilling life inside and outside of the workplace.

Karin Agness

Karin Agness is President of the Network of Enlightened Women.
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