Michelle Obama on Sheryl Sandberg's 'Lean In' Strategy: 'That S--t Doesn't Work All the Time'

Obama said the 'lean in' approach for women in the workplace isn't always enough for women.

By Sinéad Baker • Dec 3, 2018

Roy Rochlin | Getty Images

This story originally appeared on Business Insider

Michelle Obama criticized Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg's "lean in" strategy as insufficient for women trying to excel in their careers.

"That whole 'so you can have it all' -- nope, not at the same time," Obama said on Saturday at an event for her book Becoming in New York, reported New York magazine. "That's a lie. And it's not always enough to lean in, because that shit doesn't work all the time."

Sandberg famously advocated for women to take charge in the workplace in her 2013 book Lean In. It encouraged women to supercharge their own careers by improving their negotiation tactics, striving to fill leadership roles at work and taking control of their professional life.

Read more: Here are 25 things we learned from Michelle Obama's new memoir, "Becoming."

Obama quickly apologized for swearing, reported New York magazine. "I forgot where I was for a moment," she said.

Obama's comments are not the first criticism of Sandberg's approach, which is accused of suggesting that individual women have to be the solution to workplace inequality rather than widespread policy changes.

In a study this year, a group of Duke University psychology professors used 2,000 participants to test the "lean in" approach and how it worked with structural and systemic disadvantages women face in the workplace.

One group of women read excerpts from Lean In and listened to portions of Sandberg's TED Talks that focused on how women should be more confident in the office.

Researchers found that they ended the trial with the belief that women can end workplace inequality but "were also more likely to believe that women are responsible for the problem -- both for causing it and for fixing it."

Read more: 5 years after Facebook exec Sheryl Sandberg's famous book told women to 'lean in,' it appears that advice may have mixed results

Sandberg addressed the criticism that her book left out underprivileged women back in 2016, telling CBS, "I did not really get how hard it is to succeed at work when you are overwhelmed at home."

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