Real Leaders

More Than 250,000 women Lean In

Photo by Simon Abrams on Unsplash

Leanin.Org today announced the Lean In community has grown to over 250,000 members with nearly 1 million unique visitors to since the organization’s launch in March. Additionally, over 7,000 Lean In Circles – small peer groups focused on empowerment – have registered in all 50 states and at least 50 countries. In a keynote speech in Chicago at BlogHer ’13, the annual women’s blogging conference,

Sheryl Sandberg, author of Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead and founder of LeanIn.Org, commented on the steps women all over the world are taking to move toward gender equality. “While the number of people joining Lean In has exceeded all of our expectations, it’s the individual stories of people changing their lives that are truly inspiring,” said Sandberg. “From mothers fighting for better teachers for their children to companies hosting meetings to discuss gender biases openly, women and men around the globe are leaning in with gusto.”

Jesse Ellison of New York explained how Lean In gave her the confidence to ask for higher compensation for her work. “I’m a freelance writer, so every dollar counts. But it is nerve-wracking and awkward asking for more money when taking on assignments, and even harder to do it confidently at a time when media companies are struggling. But last month I asked, literally saying in my email, ‘I have to ask. I’m leaning in.’ It worked.”

Lieutenant Colonel Erika Cashin, of Minneapolis, knew men would outnumber her when she joined the Air Force in 1996 but never gave much thought to the lack of support she would encounter. She started a Lean In Circle to mentor other women in the military and provide mutual support on issues they face. “It’s not just about the mentorship we give through telling our stories, but also what we receive from listening to each other’s experiences,” Lt Col Cashin explained. “No matter what age, or stage of life and career, we’re all able to gain insight on something we weren’t aware of or didn’t know. There’s mutual benefit, and the Circle’s an open door to start discussion.”

In addition to a growing community, LeanIn.Org has forged partnerships with over 250 corporations and non-profits. These partners have committed to rolling out Lean In’s education content and Circle programs within their organizations and working toward equality in their leadership ranks.

“We wanted our employees to drive the Lean In movement internally and that’s exactly what they’ve done,” said Melinda Narciso, the director of human resources at Red Ventures, a South Carolina-based direct marketing company.

“The response has been incredible; nearly 200 employees have signed up to participate. Interns, members of the senior leadership team, sales professionals, men and women all stepped up to join a Lean In Circle – the diversity of employees is so rich. Discussions about women in the workplace are long overdue, and we’re so excited Sheryl and her team have given our employees the tools to begin the dialogue.” Over 60,000 people have also viewed the free expert lectures available at, on topics ranging from overcoming gender bias to the body language of leadership. 

“I didn’t realize until reading this book and watching [the videos] that saying something like ‘I have no idea how she does it’ is actually rooted in stereotype,” said Johnny Brackett, a Senior Manager for Marketing & Communications at TaskRabbit who viewed the videos with his colleagues. “I would never look at a male COO who’s also a father and comment on how incredible it is that he juggles it all.

Why do I do this with a woman COO?” Sandberg released the latest Lean In numbers on Saturday during her keynote address at BlogHer. Following the address, conference attendees were invited to participate in a workshop to discuss the power of peer mentoring and Lean In Circles.  LeanIn.Org by the numbers:

  • Over 250,000 Lean In community members on Facebook
  • Nearly 1 million visitors to
  • Over 7,000 registered Lean In Circles
  • Circles in all 50 states and at least 50 countries
  • Over 250 Lean In corporate and non-profit Partners
  • Over 60,000 views of Lean In’s Expert Lectures  

Lean In Circles in action:

  • Partners such as Tesco, Estee Lauder and American Express are organizing Lean In Circles for their employees.
  • We have heard from military Circles, Circles among college students, and even a father-daughter Circle.
  • In Massachusetts, 40 high school students hosted a Circle slumber party to help reach their goals.
  • In Berlin, over 100 women and men in the startup community have organized Circles to give each other the confidence they need to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams.
  • In Kenya and South Africa, women have formed Circles to encourage each other to reach the C-suite.

 Lean In by the numbers:

  • Over 1 million books sold
  • Currently published in 11 languages and will be published in at least 19 more by the end of 2014


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