6 Books to Empower Women in the Workplace and Beyond

  • August 23, 2022

My friend just started a job-hunting journey after leaving her previous company to follow her “van life” dream. She emailed me a copy of her resume and asked me to look over it. What really struck me while reading her job descriptions was her modesty. Here I am, looking at the resume of a woman who spearheaded quality control initiatives and exponentially raised profits at a digital marketing firm, and she simply says, “Managed the sales team.” I was shocked. She either didn’t realize her own value or was too afraid to boast about it.

I had already heard the statistic that men apply for jobs when they’re only 60 percent qualified, but women don’t apply unless they meet 100 percent of the qualifications. But this made me realize that the fear starts before we even get to that point. Women are second-guessing themselves while writing their resumes, while searching for jobs, and while applying for jobs. According to the Gender Insights Report published by LinkedIn, women apply for 20 percent fewer jobs despite similar search patterns as men.

Due to a history of sexism, misogyny, “boys’ club” mentalities, and microaggressions in the workplace, women are hesitating every step of the way. Women are afraid of being called “bossy” or “bitchy” or being asked if they’re on their period if they’re too assertive. Women are often sexualized by their male counterparts or considered weak and unable to perform their responsibilities as efficiently as men. 

These microaggressions lead to a shrinking-violet reaction and a lack of confidence at work. A staggering 75 percent of women in a recent poll by Fairygodboss and Dress for Success said that they don’t feel confident in their work relationships, growth and development opportunities, and professional networks. This lack of confidence means that women must have incredible courage to make the kinds of strategic moves within their companies that are necessary to take advantage of opportunities. 

This month, Berrett-Koehler Publishers has published six books written by eight incredible women who are devoted to helping other women succeed in the workplace and in their personal lives.

Begin Boldly—Christie Hunter Arscott

Begin Boldy Book CoverBegin Boldly is an actionable guide for women early in their career that urges them to take risks and make bold moves to advance their career at lightning speed. Author Christie Hunter Arscott pushes women to be courageous and use their voice, even if they’re not 100 percent sure of the outcome.

Arscott says, “In my work and research, I’ve seen so many women err on the side of identifying problems and pointing them out rather than proactively looking for solutions and solving them. Whether it be grappling with self-doubt (Will I get this wrong?) or worrying about how solutions will get implemented (Is this even possible?), don’t let your own internal dialogue of worst-case scenarios prevent you from elevating yourself as a problem solver both inside and outside of work.”


Change Your Questions, Change Your Life—Marilee Adams, PhD

Change Your Questions Change Your Life 4th Edition Book CoverChange Your Questions, Change Your Life has been helping people rewire their approaches to relationships, both personal and professional, since its first printing in 2004. This month, an expanded fourth edition has been released along with an all-new workbook designed with a series of activities to help readers achieve their goals.

Adams illustrates that by changing the questions we ask ourselves, we can change our whole worldview and bolster our self-confidence. She writes of her aha moment: “I realized that my old familiar judgmental questions about what was wrong and not good enough about me seemed to have evaporated. Rather than getting stuck in that awful quagmire of self-criticism and self-doubt, I had instead focused on the future with the goal of having my questions work for me rather than against me.”

How to Be a Diversity and Inclusion Ambassador—Celeste R. Warren

How to be a diversity and inclusion ambassador book coverCeleste Warren shows us it is the responsibility of everyone to make all feel accepted, engaged, and valued by becoming a self-designated diversity and inclusion ambassador.

In How to Be a Diversity and Inclusion Ambassador, Warren reflects on a moment where she felt women weren’t being actively included at her company: “At one point during the meeting, the men were dominating the meeting and not letting any of the women (including me) get a word in edgewise. After a significant period of time, I spoke up, loudly, and voiced my concern on a particular issue. The other women looked at me, smiled, and then began voicing their opinions as well. The guys got the point and were more inclusive the rest of the meeting.”


I Wish I’d Known This—Brenda Wensil and Kathryn Heath

I wish Id Known This Book CoverIn I Wish I’d Known This, authors Brenda Wensil and Kathryn Heath explain that there are six “blind spots” that derail women from their career paths. The book provides strategies to overcome them and is essential for every woman on a path to achieving their career goals.

Wensil and Heath say, “Research and our experience has shown that women will be better served if they plot a professional course and aim higher in their careers with intention and purpose. There are many reasons for this, but in the end, what matters most is that established patterns can be disrupted. This book offers you a half-dozen key evidence-based insights and myriad strategies designed to help you get clear about where you want to go. It will show you how to construct an effective, efficient roadway to get there—even if you can’t always see what lies ahead.”

Journal of Radical Permission—adrienne maree brown and Sonya Renee Taylor

Journal of Radical Permission Book CoverFinding your voice at work is almost impossible if you haven’t found your voice within yourself. Learning to give yourself permission for simply being you is an integral part of building confidence in other areas of your life. Journal of Radical Permission is a guide through the process of accepting yourself holistically.

Author adrienne maree brown says, “When you have permission, you feel free from within, you embody freedom for and with others, and you raise the bar of connection in your life to that of liberatory relationships.” 

This quote from author Sonya Renee Taylor explains that giving ourselves permission unlocks doorways to success in every aspect of our lives: “Your permission is an unalterable element in our collective freedom. You, my dear mad, miraculous scientist, hold the key to a thriving future for yourself, your family, your community, the whole of humanity.”

Please Sit Over There—Francine Parham

Please Sit Over There Book CoverBlack women face even more roadblocks when it comes to career advancement. Author Francine Parham says that Black women aren’t usually privy to the differing power dynamics in the workplace. Her book Please Sit Over There teaches Black women who has the power, where it hides, and how it’s used. She contends that learning to use your voice is a method to shift power to your own hand.

In her book, Parham teaches Black women that using their voice is powerful: “This book will help you understand how to be deliberate with the relationships you will need to succeed in your career. It will help you build and maintain those relationships by using your voice strategically. Power comes from being acutely aware of the narrative you create and tone you use.”


All these books are a must in any working woman’s arsenal, and Berrett-Koehler is proud to have worked with these inspiring women and published these books. Overcoming microaggressions, stigmas, and insecurities is the key for women to excel in the workplace. It’s incredibly important for women to continue making strides toward equality without allowing themselves to be held back by insecurities and fear. We must be bold, take risks, and be willing to toot our own horns in the face of sexism.


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