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Women & Careers

Throughout my coaching experience, I have found that the career challenges for women of all ages are both similar and different than for men and whilst there is ostensibly equal opportunity and diversity policies in many organisations, in reality the "game" is played differently.  

I believe I am well placed to coach women of all ages - not only because I have invested the time to understand every client as an individual but also having been privileged to share through my coaching in the challenges and opportunities for my female clients.  Furthermore, I have 3 now young adult daughters and coached female softball teams from ages 6 to 50+ over 17 years with the Hornsby District Softball Association in Sydney, Australia.

The following is a list of potential resources that may assist women of any age and stage with their career management, in a possible suggested reading order, with the reasons why recommended also noted.  I also highly recommend the resources of my good friend, Suzanne Mercier based in Sydney, Australia, on Imposterhood as this is a common feature of many of my coaching conversations with my female clients (but not exclusively so - men also experience it - we just don't admit it as much!) 

 



1
 
 
How to Win Friends and Influence People in the Digital Age - Dale Carnegie Training (2011)

An update on the timeless classic written by Dale Carnegie in 1936 and tailored to the demands of the digital age, where the same principles (albeit without the somewhat sexist tones of the 1930s) apply.  Interpersonal skills are still one of the most highly sought after competencies, whether as a graduate or as a leader, and I use this book often - personally, with clients and in conference presentations.  This book was also considered one of the 4 Giants of Sales books.
 



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The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change - Stephen Covey (1989 and 2013)

Originally written in 1989 and updated in 2013 after the sudden and accidental passing of author Steven Covey.  The principles of personal effectiveness that he has enunciated are also timeless (e.g. be Proactive, Think Win-Win, Seek First to Understand then be Understood) are extremely useful for life as well as work.  Covey also subsequently wrote another book "The Eighth Habit" which is about Trust.
 



3
 
 
Nice Girls Don't Get the Corner Office: Unconscious Mistakes Women Make That Sabotage Their Careers - Dr Lois Frankel (2014)

The original version of this book was written in 2004 and then updated in 2014 - and contains 133 easy to read tips/chapters on the little things, often not conscious, that women sometimes do that perpetuates stereotyping and potentially holds them back in their careers.  The "corner office" is actually the leadership position or promotion that is equally deserved as male peers.  I have had clients go through this book, stratify the mistakes they make then progressively and consciously work through these habits to ensure they are not displayed.  

4
 

Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges - Amy Cuddy (2015)


Incredibly inspiring and powerfully practical book by Amy Cuddy - read it because it was listed at the end of 2015 as one THE books to read, saw the TED talk and it also covered the Impostor Experience/Phenomenon.Syndrome which arises a lot in my executive coaching. Great for anyone, men or women, young or more mature, who wishes to bring his or her best self to life's challenges.


5
 
 UnFinished Business - Anne Marie Slaughter (2015)

Terrific book which raises important issues and conversation starters about work, family, gender roles, equality, feminism and the future of our society and work, particularly how children and careers intersect. The book closes the loop on the much read article in The Atlantic by Anne-Marie Slaughter of a few years ago. Important for employers as we go through significant demographic changes over coming decades; important for anyone trying the juggle career, family, health and purpose.
 



6
 
 
Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead - Sheryl Sandberg (2013) or Lean In: for Graduates (2014)

Sheryl Sandberg is the COO of Facebook and her original book in 2013 received very favourable reviews for its honesty and useful techniques for women wanting a corporate career.  She has then updated it in 2014 to include a number of additional chapters for graduates, with a number of case study letters from successful women who "Leaned In", and provides an inspirational toolkit for success, both personal and career.
 




7
 
 
The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women - Why Capable People Suffer from the Impostor Syndrome and How to Thrive in Spite of It - Valerie Young (2011)

Impostor Syndrome is not a disease – it is just how some people (men and women) think and "suffer" from needless self doubt - and therefore maybe don’t allow themselves to achieve their full potential. Many feel like a fraud when appointed or promoted to a position of responsibility for which they do not consider they have the necessary qualifications or experience - even though others do! The only difference between men and women in my experience - and this is a generalisation and doesn't apply to all - is that us men will bluff our way through more - even if we don't feel we have all the information or competence whereas women will have to be 110% right before committing or make a decision. This book shares the stories and strategies of many successful women who have experienced Impostor Syndrome.


 



8
 
 
The 100 Best Business Books of All Time: What They Say, Why They Matter, and How They Can Help You - Jack Covert and Todd Sattersten (2011)

If you are going to work in corporate life, you need to understand the language and principles of business. Even if you have undertaken a business related degree, you will probably not been able to read every book on every area of business. This book by Coert and Sattersten is a fast track means of getting up to speed with 100 classic business books, the principles of which have been summarised into 2-3 page chapters, so that you can appear more knowledgeable about a topic - strategy, change, leadership, marketing etc. Whilst this book does not substitute for reading the original full length versions, it does provide a very good high level overview.
 



9
 
 
Office Politics: How to Thrive in a World of Lying, Backstabbing and Dirty Tricks - Oliver James (2013)

Any time you have 2 or more people working together, you have politics.  The larger the organisation the more politics survives and thrives - and is unavoidable often leading to toxic colleagues and work environments.  This book covers particularly three types of political personalities - Psychopaths, Machiavels and Narcissists - and provides a range of strategies to deal with them as well as politics generally.
 



10
 
 
Political Dilemmas at Work: How to Maintain Your Integrity and Further Your Career - Gary Ranker, Mike Phipps and Colin Gautrey (2008)

This is a very practical book that covers the strategies to deal with 20 possible political scenarios in a corporate organisation including "Political Rival", "Power Vacuum", "Turf Wars", "Friendly Fire" and the "Success Trap" - all whilst attempting to maintain your integrity and further your career.  It is a great handbook and will assist with ways in which one can deal with what could otherwise be obstacles and derailers of your career success.
 



11
 
 
Honey Money: The Power of Erotic Capital - Catherine Hakim (2011)

A somewhat controversial book, because some consider it undermines women particularly,  although Catherine Hakim is a sociologist at the London School of Economics and articulated a very convincing argument based on her research and observations of how some men and women succeed.  Hakim argues that there are 4 types of Personal Capital: Economic, Cultural, Social and now Erotic - with this proposed form of new capital having a number of elements - Beauty, Sexual Attractiveness, Social (Grace, Charm, Social Skills), Liveliness (Physical fitness, social energy, humour), Social Presentation and Sexuality.  The book certainly makes one think and consider one's own values, personal branding and personal attributes and thus why I have included it on this list.
 



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?
 
Any book you pick!   And it could be reading a hard copy book, an e-book on Kindle etc  or listening to an audio book. One power tip for anyone in a career these days is to keep reading or listening to books, not just short online or magazine articles, to stay current with trends, biographies, economics, technology, geopolitics, demography, social changes etc.

A book provides you with a valuable resource and perspective as well as something to talk about in business, job interviews, networking events, conferences and maybe social settings.  Never stop learning - even if you think you have completed your formal education.

And to show I walk the talk, my online book list is here :-)