Your GovFem Summer Reading List

Monday was World Book Day – an annual event to promote reading and publishing. It’s also getting very close to summer, which means it’s time to stock your totes with some great new beach reads. But if you’re going to use some hours in the sun to enjoy reading, why not also use that activity to help inspire and improve your career?

Here’s a list of GovFem’s favorite books. They’re all about women in the workplace, including what we can do to promote ourselves, how we can confront sexism, and how to climb the career ladder.

Dear Madam President

Written by Hilary Clinton’s communications director, Jennifer Palmieri, this book is an open letter to whoever will become the first female leader of the United States. But more than prepping the reader for their time in the Oval Office, this letter is for anyone looking to succeed in their field. It also has great tidbits and lessons learned from Palmieri’s own experiences in politics and government.

What Works for Women at Work

“The Maternal Wall”, “The Tug of War”, “The Tight Rope”, and “Prove-It-Again!” are four patterns that authors Joan Williams and Rachel Dempsey say prevent women from achieving success in the workplace. Each cluster of problems is discussed with a wealth of insights and backed up with hardcore research.

Feminist Fight Club

Looking for a book to pick and put down while you’re sunning at the pool? This book by New York Times gender editor Jessica Bennett is a playbook-style manual for how to navigate sexist workplace cultures or one-off scenarios. It’s also very witty, making for a fun read.


This book is all about “breaking up the boys’ club of Silicon Valley” but it’s extremely applicable to any workplace – especially if you’re in a STEM field. I like this book because it’s loaded with research to counter preconceptions about what it means to work in tech, including who makes a good developer or scientist and what skills you really need.

Drop the Ball

Tiffany Dufu’s book is focused on doing more with less. It offers tips from Dufu’s personal story, where she climbed to the top of her career but found it difficult to continue succeeding after starting a family. It “recounts how she learned to reevaluate expectations, shrink her to-do list, and meaningfully engage the assistance of others” – which are lessons we could all use.

Have another suggestion for a great summer read about women in the workplace? Let us know in the comments below!

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