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. 

Misogyny, Maya Angelou, and Words

A lot has happened since last week.  As a heads up, the first portion of this post is about misogyny and the UCSB shootings last weekend. If you’d rather not read about it, skip below the comic!

Last weekend, a man murdered 6 people and injured 13 more. Misogyny is largely being credited (not much in mainstream media, however) as the primary driver behind his violence. The killer left behind several youtube videos and more than a hundred pages of a violent manifesto. His parents had reached out to his therapist, and the police met with him, but nothing came of the meeting. Part of this is because they based their judgment of him on their face-to-face interaction, rather than on his digital droppings of his thoughts and opinions, perhaps a misprioritization in our current world.

As I’ve written before, there is a real risk in defining people based solely on what they post on social media. But when so much of someone’s thoughts and feelings are revealed online, their narrative becomes more transparent. This man’s narrative was one of violent, extremist misogyny.

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Memorials, Public Health, and Empathy

Here’s what was important this week…

The museum memorializing the victims of the September 11th terrorist attacks opened this week. Steve Kandell wrote about visiting it: The Worst Day of My Life is Now New York’s Hottest Tourist Attraction. The photographer and people-person-extraordinaire behind Humans of New York spoke to someone who also went through the museum. It opened early for survivors and family members of victims. Everyone agreed that the gift shop was in bad taste.

One of my favorite blog of odds and ends, Futility Closet, had two posts recently that speak to the difficulty of colonizing a country. When the Spanish conquered the West Indies, the conditions they imposed on the natives were so poor that they were committing suicide in great numbers. So great, in fact, that:

 “In the end the Spaniards, faced with an embarrassing labor shortage, put a stop to the epidemic of suicides by persuading the Indians that they, too, would kill themselves in order to pursue them in the next world with even harsher cruelties.”

In Puritan New England, conditions were so bad for the conquerors (I mean settlers…) that children who were captured by Native Americans often didn’t want to come back. This was a somewhat popular theme for historical fiction novels like Calico Captive (which I read when I was younger). One possible reason for this, mentioned in the post, is that “The Mohawks were much more indulgent of children than the colonists, and women were counted equal to men and played an integral role in society and politics.”

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Noise, Medicine, and Music

Here’s what was important this week…

More than you probably ever wanted to know about refrigerators and refrigeration:

“Refrigeration is the invisible backbone on which the world’s food supply depends — and given our climate-changed forecast of more extreme weather events, it may yet prove to be its Achilles’ heel.”

Oh how I wish this had come true:

 “All mechanical fridges work by controlling the vaporisation and condensation of a liquid called a refrigerant. Most fridges today do this control with a special electric-power pump called a compressor, but there’s also the technique of absorption, which is kicked off by a gas-fuelled flame. The fridge’s hum wasn’t inevitable.” 

I have somewhat of an aversion to background humming noises, like that of a refrigerator, central air system, fluorescent lights, or washing machines.

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Women, the Web, and the App Takeover

Here’s what was important this week…

Today is Pi day. Here is more than you probably ever wanted to know about pi day.

Last Saturday, March 8 was International Women’s Day. Started as a revolutionary holiday to honor the achievements of women, International Women’s Day is recognized in many countries. However, in Nepal it is recognized by women only, rather than as a day where men pay tribute to the women. Nepal also has another holiday that only women observe:

“In early September in Nepal, Hindus – who make up 81 per cent of the country’s 30.5 million people – celebrate Rishi Panchami, a festival that commemorates a woman who was reborn as a prostitute because she didn’t follow menstrual restrictions. It is a women’s holiday, and so Nepal’s government gives all women a day off work. This is not to recognise the work done by women, but to give them the time to perform rituals that will atone for any sins they may have committed while menstruating in the previous year. (Girls who have not begun menstruating and women who have ceased to menstruate are exempt.)”

However, the interesting thing about a cultural distaste and monthly banishment that occurs surrounding menstruation, is that “they talk openly – more openly perhaps than the average teenage girl in the UK might – about what they use for sanitary protection. Some use sanitary pads, some are happy with cloths, although they dry them by hiding them under other clothes on washing lines.”

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