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Lean In Circles Offer Women A Voice In a World Where They're Constantly Told to 'Be Quiet'

As women, we're often told to “settle down” and to “stop taking things so personally.” In the office, our voice tends not to reach as far as a man's does. We're more likely to be overlooked for promotions and raises, we're more likely to be classified as “b*tchy” rather than “bold.”

We're more likely to be bypassed for opportunities that we deserve and we're more likely to struggle to find our voice in the corporate world. In college, we're reminded to “be quiet” and to “speak when spoken to.”

And while society is slowly catching on to our female cry for equality and change, it's just not happening fast enough.

But one organization, helmed by Sheryl Sandberg, is looking to change that, and aggressively.

LeanIn.org, the website that Sandberg launched in the aftermath of her stellar book being published, was created as the “next step” in the Lean In program.

While the book empowered women to pursue ambitions and change the narrative from “can't” to “can,” the online space now stands as a digital reminded of the next phase: A continued commitment to spread inspiration and support to women leaning in in every town, city and office across the globe.

Now, a new program, Lean In Circles, joins its ranks and offers killer advice, support and inspiration to girls in college, sitting on the cusp of the working world.

After celebrating its first birthday this past March, the Lean In Circles organization has expanded into 73 countries and totals more than 20,000 Circles – groups where women and men can get together, support, discuss and empower each other – and they show no signs of slowing down.

We sat down with Rachel Thomas, Founder and President of Lean In, to talk about the paths that the Circles program has already helped women pave for themselves and others, the boundaries the program has helped break down and the exciting road that lies ahead.

At the college level, Circles award women and men the opportunity to build, grow and cultivate together.

They offer peer support and peer-learning opportunities that touch on hard-hitting gender issues, classroom issues and real-world issues that professionals face day in and day out, especially those that women deal with.

And by starting these learning opportunities at the collegiate level, Thomas says that they're being proactive about the future of every individual.

When you're in school, you're at a critical point in your life where most of your big decisions are in front of you: 'What do you want to major in? What do you want to have a career in? What do you want your life to be like? Who do you want to be?'

Getting together in circles and learning those skills that you need to be successful is really powerful and useful, especially before you go off and make those decisions, she tells Elite Daily.

You think you're the only one who's dealing with someone or something, but then you have that moment when you realize you're not alone, Thomas adds. You have that all the time in Circles; women coming together and realizing that they're not alone in their experiences as a woman in a number professional, educational and personal settings.

It's important to know that being part of Circles on campus isn't added homework – or even an added chore.

It's about coming together and empowering women, says Rachel. We realized that a lot of the messages from 'Lean In' were resonating with younger readers who were facing many of these big life decisions.

So why not start with the Millennial movers and shakers? It's been said time and time again that we'll be the ones to change the world – and Thomas and Lean In wholeheartedly agree.

It's not going to happen with the older generation – women and men in their 40s and 50s won't crack gender equality,” says Thomas. “We know that you're the generation to do it, so how do we get you that information?” The answer, she says, is by providing resources and outlets on campus.

At the start of college – or even at the end – Thomas says that men and women should be selfish.

Get all the information and support you need to be as effective as possible when you make that leap from student to young professional.

And Lean In Circles is all about giving you the tools you need to get there. We give you everything you need, so that you don't have to think that hard about it. We make it as easy as possible and then we say, 'Do what you want with it.'

If it sounds simple, that's because it is.

If a Circle doesn't exist on your campus, start one. And if there are tons already in session, join one. Thomas adds,

The number one trait of a successful female in the workplace is resilience. Anyone can be resilient because it's not about how smart you are, it's not about what your degree was in.

Lean In Circles teaches you how to find that resilient strength inside yourself.

Before we part, we ask Rachel to dish on the best advice she has for women who are constantly fighting to be heard and respected in the classroom, in the office and in the world. She tells us the same thing she tells her 7-year-old daughter:

Make your comfort zone a little bit bigger every day, in little and big ways.

She continues,

You can learn to be gritty. You'll hit a couple bumps, but you'll get through it. You'll take risks and some will work and some won't, but you'll gain confidence and grit. Look for opportunities to go for things, and if they don't go well, remember that resilience and the will to go for it is just as powerful as being successful.

It's hard not to feel inspired after hearing that.


Tonight at 7:30 pm EST, Sheryl Sandberg will host a livestream to kick off the new season of Lean In Circles on campus. It will include insights from Sheryl and candid career advice, an introduction to Lean In Circles and case studies from two Campus Leaders and a question and answer session with the Lean In team.

Photo Courtesy: Instagram

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Kylie McConville

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Kylie is the deputy editor and in charge of managing the women's lifestyle team. She's most likely tired, so be nice to her, okay?
Kylie is the deputy editor and in charge of managing the women's lifestyle team. She's most likely tired, so be nice to her, okay?

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