ICYMI, this past Sunday was International Women’s Day 2020. The campaign theme for this year? #EachforEqual, a call to arms for creating a gender-equal world by actively choosing to “challenge stereotypes, fight bias, broaden perceptions, improve situations and celebrate women’s achievements.”
This week’s reading list celebrates International Women’s Day with 15 books on female empowerment, gender equality, even rethinking perspectives on gender altogether. I hope these books help you to carry the importance and empowerment––and its call to action––with you throughout the year (and, in fact, throughout life).
Important Note/Friendly Reminder: Books on female empowerment are not just for women. In fact, every man should have at least one gender equality book in their TBR pile (if not in their hands)!
#EachforEqual Reading List
1. Work, Pause Thrive: How to Pause for Parenthood Without Killing Your Career by Lisen Stromberg
After the birth of her second child, Lisen Stromberg did something she never imagined she would do: she opted out to focus on her family. But her career didn’t end there. Lisen paused then pivoted to become first a social entrepreneur and then an award-winning journalist writing about women, work, and life in Silicon Valley. Along the way, she learned she wasn’t alone. Lisen met many highly successful women who told her they never “opted out” but who had, in fact, temporarily downshifted or paused their careers.
In Work Pause Thrive, Lisen shares their stories. Deeply rooted in social science research, cutting-edge data collected from nearly 1,500 women, and through 186 first-person interviews, this book reveals how trailblazing women have disrupted the traditional career paradigm. What worked for them can work for you.
2. Drop the Ball: Achieving More by Doing Less by Tiffany Dufu
Once the poster girl for doing it all, after she had her first child, Tiffany Dufu struggled to accomplish everything she thought she needed to in order to succeed. Like so many driven and talented women who have been brought up to believe that to have it all, they must do it all, Dufu began to feel that achieving her career and personal goals was an impossibility. Eventually, she discovered the solution: letting go. In Drop the Ball, Dufu recounts how she learned to reevaluate expectations, shrink her to-do list, and meaningfully engage the assistance of others―freeing the space she needed to flourish at work and to develop deeper, more meaningful relationships at home.
Offering new perspective on why the women’s leadership movement has stalled, and packed with actionable advice, Tiffany Dufu’s Drop the Ball urges women to embrace imperfection, to expect less of themselves and more from others―only then can they focus on what they truly care about, devote the necessary energy to achieving their real goals, and create the type of rich, rewarding life we all desire.
3. The Myth of the Nice Girl: Achieving a Career You Love Without Becoming a Person You Hate by Fran Hauser
In The Myth of the Nice Girl, Fran Hauser deconstructs the negative perception of “niceness” that many women struggle with in the business world. If women are nice, they are seen as weak and ineffective, but if they are tough, they are labeled a bitch.
The Myth of the Nice Girl is a refreshing dose of forward-looking feminism that will resonate with smart, professional women who know what they want and are looking for real advice to take their career to the next level without losing themselves in the process.
4. Fearless and Free: How Smart Women Pivot and Relaunch Their Careers by Wendy Sachs
Women tend to be inherently cautious, to the point of overthinking their every move. This may help them stay safer than their male counterparts, but it also keeps them stuck in the action-first, fake-it-til-you-make-it ethos celebrated in the tech world shaking up the workforce today. What if women embraced the startup spirit? What if they had the confidence to take chances, even if they knew they may fail first? What if instead of agonizing over which step to take, they leapt forward quickly?
These are the traits that helped Silicon Valley redefine our culture, and not surprisingly, these are the same lessons that can help all women succeed in all stages of their careers.In Fearless and Free, author Wendy Sachs has provided what O, The Oprah Magazine has called “pithy, invaluable guidance to women stymied in the workplace.”
5. The Big Life: Embrace the Mess, Work Your Side Hustle, Find a Monumental Relationship, and Become the Badass Babe You Were Meant to Be by Ann Shoket
Millennial women are changing what it means to be powerful and successful in the world—for everyone. Forever. You want The Big Life—that delicious cocktail of passion, career, work, ambition, respect, money, and a monumental relationship. And you want it on your own terms. Forget climbing some corporate ladder, you want a career with twists and turns and adventure. For you, success only matters if it’s meaningful.
Ann Shoket knows the evolving values of young women more than anyone. She’s the voice behind the popular Badass Babes community, a sisterhood of young, hungry, ambitious women who are helping each other through the most complex issues around becoming who you’re meant to be. As the trailblazing editor-in-chief of Seventeen for the better part of a decade, Shoket led provocative conversations that helped young women navigate the tricky terrain of adolescence and become smart, confident, self-assured young women. Now that they are adding muscle to the framework of their lives, she’s continuing the conversation with The Big Life.
6. The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance––What Women Should Know by Katty Kay & Claire Shipman
In The Confidence Code, journalists Katty Kay and Claire Shipman travel to the frontiers of neuroscience on a hunt for the confidence gene and reveal surprising new research on its roots in our brains. They visit the world’s leading psychologists who explain how we can all choose to become more confident simply by taking action and courting risk, and how those actions change our physical wiring. They interview women leaders from the worlds of politics, sports, the military, and the arts to learn how they have tapped into this elemental resource. They examine how a lack of confidence impacts our leadership, success, and fulfillment.
Ultimately, they argue, while confidence is partly influenced by genetics, it is not a fixed psychological state. That’s the good news. You won’t discover it by thinking positive thoughts or by telling yourself (or your children) that you are perfect as you are. You also won’t find it by simply squaring your shoulders and faking it. But it does require a choice: less people pleasing and perfectionism and more action, risk taking, and fast failure.
7. Taking Sexy Back: How to Own Your Sexuality and Create the Relationship You Want by Dr. Alexandra Solomon
In a culture intent on telling you who and how to be, standing in your truth is revolutionary.
From relationship expert Alexandra Solomon—author of Loving Bravely—Taking Sexy Back is a groundbreaking guide to deepening your connection to yourself, honoring your desires, and cultivating authentic intimate connections. On these pages, you’ll discover how to deepen your sexual self-awareness, and use that awareness to create experiences that not only pleasure, but elevate, expand, and heal you. You’ll learn to understand your boundaries, communicate what feels good, and bring mindfulness and self-compassion to sex. Most importantly, you’ll embrace your sexuality as an evolving, essential, and beautiful part of your life.
8. Happier at Home: Kiss More, Jump More, Abandon Self-Control, and My Other Experiments in Everyday Life by Gretchen Rubin
One Sunday afternoon, as she unloaded the dishwasher, Gretchen Rubin felt hit by a wave of homesickness. Homesick—why? She was standing right in her own kitchen. She felt homesick, she realized, with love for home itself. “Of all the elements of a happy life,” she thought, “my home is the most important.” In a flash, she decided to undertake a new happiness project, and this time, to focus on home.
In The Happiness Project, she worked out general theories of happiness. Here she goes deeper on factors that matter for home, such as possessions, marriage, time, and parenthood. How can she control the cubicle in her pocket? How might she spotlight her family’s treasured possessions? And it really was time to replace that dud toaster.
9. Radical Candor: Fully Revised & Updated Edition: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity by Kim Scott
The idea is simple: You don’t have to choose between being a pushover and a jerk. Using Radical Candor―avoiding the perils of Obnoxious Aggression, Manipulative Insincerity, and Ruinous Empathy―you can be kind and clear at the same time.
Kim Scott was a highly successful leader at Google before decamping to Apple, where she developed and taught a management class. Since the original publication of Radical Candor in 2017, Scott has earned international fame with her vital approach to effective leadership and co-founded the Radical Candor executive education company, which helps companies put the book’s philosophy into practice.
10. I Know How She Does It: How Successful Women Make the Most of Their Time by Laura Vanderkam
“Having it all” has become the subject of countless books, articles, debates, and social media commentary, with passions running high in all directions. Many now believe this to be gospel truth: Any woman who wants to advance in a challenging career has to make huge sacrifices. She’s unlikely to have a happy marriage, quality time with her kids (assuming she can have kids at all), a social life, hobbies, or even a decent night’s sleep.
But what if balancing work and family is actually not as hard as it’s made out to be? What if all those tragic anecdotes ignore the women who quietly but consistently do just fine with the juggle?
Instead of relying on scattered stories, time management expert Laura Vanderkam set out to add hard data to the debate. She collected hour-by-hour time logs from 1,001 days in the lives of women who make at least $100,000 a year. And she found some surprising patterns in how these women spend the 168 hours that every one of us has each week.
11. Mommy Burnout: How to Reclaim Your Life and Raise Healthier Children in the Process by Dr. Sheryl Ziegler
Moms, do you feel tired? Overwhelmed? Have you continually put off the things you need to do for you? Do you feel like it’s all worth it because your kids are happy? Are you “over” being a mother? If you answered yes to these questions, you’re not alone. Parents today want to create the ideal childhood for their children. Women strive to be the picture-perfect Pinterest mother that looks amazing, hosts the best birthday parties in town, posts the most “liked” photos, and serves delicious, nutritious home-cooked meals in her neat, organized home after ferrying the kids to school and a host of extracurricular activities on time.
Over the last nineteen years working with families and children, Dr. Z has devised a prescriptive program for addressing “mommy burnout”—teaching moms that they can learn to re-energize themselves and still feel good about their families and their lives. In this warm and empathetic guide, she examines this modern epidemic among mothers who put their children’s happiness above their own, and offers empowering, proven solutions for alleviating this condition, saving marriages and keeping kids happy in the process.
12. How Women Rise: Break the 12 Habits Holding You Back from Your Next Raise, Promotion, or Job by Sally Helgesen & Marshall Goldsmith
Leadership expert Sally Helgesen and bestselling leadership coach Marshall Goldsmith have trained thousands of high achievers–men and women–to reach even greater heights. Again and again, they see that women face specific and different roadblocks from men as they advance in the workplace. In fact, the very habits that helped women early in their careers can hinder them as they move up. Simply put, what got you here won’t get you there . . . and you might not even realize your blind spots until it’s too late.
13. We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
In this personal, eloquently-argued essay—adapted from the much-admired TEDx talk of the same name—Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie offers readers a unique definition of feminism for the twenty-first century, one rooted in inclusion and awareness. Drawing extensively on her own experiences and her deep understanding of the often masked realities of sexual politics, here is one remarkable author’s exploration of what it means to be a woman now—and an of-the-moment rallying cry for why we should all be feminists.
+2 Upcoming Books…
14. Tomboy: The Surprising History and Future of Girls Who Dare to Be Different by Lisa Selin Davis
Davis talks to experts from clothing designers to psychologists, historians to neuroscientists, and tomboys from eight to eighty, to illuminate debates about what is masculine and feminine; what is biological versus socially constructed; what constitutes the categories of boy and girl; and the connection between tomboyism, gender identity, and sexuality.
15. Parents Who Lead: The Leadership Approach You Need to Parent with Purpose, Fuel Your Career, and Create a Richer Life by Stewart D. Friedman & Alyssa F. Westring
Parents in today’s fast-paced, disorienting world can easily lose track of who they are and what really matters most. But it doesn’t have to be this way. As a parent, you can harness the powerful science of leadership in order to thrive in all aspects of your life.
Powerful, practical, and indispensable, Parents Who Lead is the guide you need to forge a better future, foster meaningful and mutually rewarding relationships, and design sustainable solutions for creating a richer life for yourself, your children, and your world.
Have you read any of these titles?
What books would you add to this list of Books on Female Empowerment and Gender?
Let me know in the comments!
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