Top Business / Management / Leadership Books by and/or about Womxn

I’ve been listening to the Farnam Street podcast, The Knowledge Project, recently and enjoying the guests that have talked about The Personal MBA or Relationships vs Transactions. But I noticed a pattern. I realized that the guests were largely telling stories about men, mentioning books by men, and I didn’t see myself in these conversations. When I went to dig deeper into the recommended reading, I found more of the same. 

I’m not trying to pick on Farnam Street, but the institutional blindness of having a slogan: “Our Content Helps You Succeed In Work and Life” without examining who is behind that “You” is real. So I dashed off a quick tweet about my frustration, and gosh did the Twitterverse deliver.

You can read the full replies to that tweet if you want to see all the attributed recommendations, but I’ve gathered them here in a loose structure. If you want the unstructured list, check out this published Google doc compilation I created.

Managing and Leading People

Leading an Organization

Founding and Building a Business

Working Better 

Work more efficiently or productively

Growing Yourself (At Work, Maybe)

Widen Your Perspective

I also recommend using the Library Extension to automatically search your local library catalog for these books.

Thanks to the recommenders

Many thanks to Better Allies, Kim Moir, David Ryan, Alice MacGillivray, Jillian Kozyra, Margaret Fero, Laura Glu, Liz Wiseman, Linda van der Pal, Sophie Weston, Mariposa Leadership, Richard Hughes-Jones, Katherine Collins, Arie Goldshlager, Michele Zanini, Bob Sutton, James Addison, Davis Liu, MD, Suva Chattopadhyay, Anna-Lisa Leefers, Neil Hodgson, Mindy Howard, leverup, Jo Miller, and Jeff Tetz for recommending these books, and to everyone that retweeted my request as well. 

Inc. published a similar list that you likely want to check out as well: 60 Great Business and Leadership Books, All Written by Women. Thanks to Shantha R. Mohan, Ph.D., DTM for the pointer!

One last thought

I asked for recommendations of business, management, and leadership books by and about women, and I got so many more than I expected! As I dug through the list of recommendations, noticed a new pattern—most of the authors look like me, a white cis woman. 

Many of the authors have degrees and/or positions at Ivy League universities. Some of these books seem to espouse a kind of “Lean In feminism”, where if you work hard enough in the existing system, or change yourself to work with the system, you’ll succeed. That doesn’t work for everyone, and can even work against people

There’s an innate bias to who gets published, and it’s worth considering whose voices we might not be listening to in the room, who doesn’t feel comfortable enough to talk in the room, and who isn’t even in the room. (In this case, the room is a list of crowdsourced book recommendations). 

Despite publishing this list of book recommendations, you might not need a book. 

As Don Jones (yet another dude) interviewed on the Tech Lead Journal podcast put it, “Define what success means to you” and go after it. And bring others up with you.

And while we’re at it, let’s build a new system where everyone is empowered and supported to find their own success—beyond mere survival. 

Libraries, Digital Advertising, and the Machine Zone

Librarians are an underused, underpaid, and underestimated legion. And one librarian in particular is frustrated by e-book lending. Not just the fact that libraries have to maintain waitlists for access to a digital file, but also that the barriers to checking out an ebook are unnecessarily high. As she puts it,

“Teaching people about having technology serve them includes helping them learn to assess and evaluate risk for themselves.”

In her view,

“Information workers need to be willing to step up and be more honest about how technology really works and not silently carry water for bad systems. People trust us to tell them the truth.”

That seems like the least that can be expected by library patrons.

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Reading, Drones, and Georgie Washington

Americans are still reading books, Internet and all! Younger Americans are actually reading more than older generations, which could be partially due to the fact that with the rise of texting and social media, so much of our communication is text-based, so everyone is doing a lot more reading (and writing) in order to communicate with their friends. The original study is linked in that article and in this graph:

What are some other ways to get people to read books?

Well it helps a lot if your college library not only tells you the call numbers of the book, but it gives you precise directions to the location of the book, which is pretty awesome. Much more useful when navigating a giant library, like I have access to at the university I work at, as opposed to the smaller library at the university I actually attended.

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Design, Destruction, and Reading

Here’s what was important this week…

As the web and technology become ever more ingrained in our day to day lives, the role of designers becomes more apparent. Designers have been around since things began to be created, and according to one man, they’ve destroyed the world.

It’s a bold statement. But designers (architects, if you’re a designer of buildings and structures) have designed prisons, and even the solitary housing units (SHUs) that unconstitutionally detain inmates.

Mike Monteiro wants to change that. In his 45 minute long talk (it’s worth it, though I admit my attention was wavering at the 40 minute mark), he passionately declares that it is the responsibility of all designers to be gatekeepers for bad, and outright harmful, design. And he has a point. If something isn’t designed, it can’t be built (or at least, not very well). He calls on designers to recognize the power that they have, even if they don’t realize it.

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