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[bitsontherun ClJKgf29]COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) – Can women have it all? That’s the question tackled in a controversial new book examining how women rise through the ranks of corporate America.

Sheryl Sandberg has ignited a fire storm of controversy with her new book “Lean In”.  In the book, she says women shouldn’t be afraid to reach for the top and that women may unknowingly be holding themselves back.

“They start leaning back. They say ‘Oh I’m busy, I want to have a child one day. I couldn’t possibly take on anymore. Or, I’m still learning on my current job.’ I’ve never had a man say that stuff to me,” says Sandberg in her CBS 60 Minutes interview.

Beth Jolly is Director of Contract Compliance at Microtek/Ecolab. She’s been married 35 years, has 3 children and started her business career in the 1980’s. Jolly thinks Sandberg may be on to something.

“Her message to us is to take the opportunity when you can, to pave the way for other women, to reach the top, don’t be afraid to take chances, don’t be afraid to be aggressive when it’s called for, and I just think she’s got some good advice there,” says Jolly.

Penny Bowen has owned Bella Interior Design in Columbus for 17 years and has clients nationwide but says she faced some challenges in the beginning.

“We draw homes as well as decorate. So in the drawing of the homes, in the very beginning, I would get some flack from contractors who are wondering why this young lady was coming around with the plans telling them what she wanted. But after listening to them and working with them, I earned their respect and from that point on I think it went really well,” says Bowen.

Bowen also says no matter the profession, learning to balance is key.

“Yes I may be able to leave at 3 in the afternoon if I needed to leave or I may be able to take an hour at 11 o’clock to go to see a play, however my clients are calling during that time to so I have responsibilities to them. So you just have to balance and work as fast as you can and do what you can,” says Bowen.

Both Jolly and Bowen believe the challenges women in business face can be overcome and offer some advice for the next generation of women.

“Just try to figure out what works for you, what makes you happy. When you determine that, then go for it vigorously,” says Jolly.

Bowen states, “If it’s what you love, do it and do it to the best of your ability and you can’t help but be successful.”

Sheryl Sandberg’s book “Lean In” was released March 11th.

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