cover image Women and Leadership: Real Lives, Real Lessons

Women and Leadership: Real Lives, Real Lessons

Julia Gillard and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. MIT, $29.95 (336p) ISBN 978-0-262-04574-2

Gillard, the former prime minister of Australia, and Okonjo-Iweala (Reforming the Unreformable), the former finance minister of Nigeria, offer a unique study of female leadership based on conversations with eight women leaders from around the world. The interviewees, including Hillary Clinton, New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern, and European Central Bank president Christine Lagarde, answer questions based on the authors’ hypotheses about why there are so few female leaders and how they get treated differently than their male counterparts. One key to enabling women leaders, Gillard and Okonjo-Iweala suggest (and their profile subjects confirm), is a childhood in which girls are taught they are no different than boys. Other topics include the disproportionate attention paid to women’s appearances, the requirement that female leaders be both authoritative and nurturing, how to address being perceived as “a bit of a bitch,” and the importance of networking. Noting that the Australian Parliament House has a childcare center and the U.K. House of Commons allows maternity leave, the authors reassure readers that family life and professional ambition can coexist. Full of practical advice and insights into the careers of a diverse and impressive array of women, this is a valuable handbook for putting more women in positions of power. (Feb.)