Conversations around a woman’s role in the workplace, and in society at large, are as spirited as ever. “Women today are thinking, I have this energy—where do I direct it?” says Da Capo Lifelong associate editor Claire Schulz. In October, the imprint will publish This Is How We Rise by Claudia Chan, founder of the She Summit, an annual conference for women leaders. Featured speakers have included Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington and Sallie Krawcheck, a former Wall Street CEO who now leads Ellevest, a digital investment platform for women.
“What I was drawn to in Claudia’s book is that it’s not just about getting ahead in your own life—it’s also about how you turn around and get plugged into the wider movement for gender equality,” Schulz says.
This question has particular resonance in Silicon Valley, where women in positions like the one that Lean In author Sheryl Sandberg occupies—as Facebook’s chief operating officer—remain in the minority; a lack of parity continues to drive discussions about how women in tech are treated at work. When reading the proposal for A Uterus Is a Feature, Not a Bug by Sarah Lacy (Nov.), Harper Business editor Stephanie Hitchcock was struck by the way that its author described the perception of mothers in the workplace—“as being weak and distracted and not serious, and that [their] attentions are divided”—a perception that she sets out to shatter with her book.
Lacey, who founded Silicon Valley news website Pando, shares the stories of a variety of women, including her experience as a manager and a CEO. The book discusses her widely reported criticism of what she called the culture of “sexism and misogyny” at Uber, and the subsequent threat made by an Uber executive to probe into her personal life. Lacey credits books such as Lean In and Shannon Meers and Joanna Strober’s 2013 title, Getting to 50/50, for contributing to the dialogue around workplace equality. “I think Sara is unique in her ferocity but she’s also open-minded,” Hitchcock says. “She discusses how our thinking has evolved and the necessity of [this] conversation.”
TarcherPerigee senior editor Stephanie Bowen believes that the category of women’s business books has broadened in response to millennial women’s interest in “books that speak to them where they are right now,” she says. “Yes, we can all aspire to be like [Sandberg], but how do we get there?” Carrie Kerpen’s Work It, pubbing in December, suggests that there is no one way. Kerpen, CEO of social media marketing firm Likeable Media, “is an entrepreneur who works with women of all ages, a range of experience, and with backgrounds in all industries,” Bowen says. For the book, Kerpen gathered tips from Sandberg and Krawcheck as well as fashion exec Aliza Licht and Reshma Saujani, founder and CEO of Girls Who Code. “She’s interviewed all these women at various points in their careers,” Bowen says, “and each has figured out how to create her own success on her own terms.”
The category’s expansion is testament to just how stark the gender imbalance remains, says Seal Press executive editor Laura Mazer, who edited Power Up (Nov.), a guide for women in tech written by Magdalena Yesil, a founding board member of Salesforce. “We’ve come to expect to see men at the top of traditional industries, but [tech] is a new one, so it’s especially heartbreaking that we’re still seeing the same old gender imbalance,” Mazer says.
These titles offer support and advice at an urgent time, she continues. “We know that every cultural shift is debated in a book somewhere,” she says. “If there’s going to be a national change, we’ll see it in op-ed pages and in books.” A lack of examples of powerful female role models in the workplace actually increases the demand for smart, actionable advice, Mazer adds. “No one at the top will give out an instruction guide, so [women] will turn to books for guidance. They need that example provided to them—the scripts, best practices, and powerful tools.”