International Women's Day Reading List
International Women's Day Reading List
Including both the educational and the empowering, these books by and about women highlight those who have pushed boundaries, affected change, redefined roles and questioned the status quo with the aim of championing a better, fairer society for all. You'll find them all on BorrowBox.
The Gendered Brain by Nicola Rippon
Do you have a female brain or a male brain? Or is that the wrong question?
Reading maps or reading emotions? Barbie or Lego? We live in a gendered world where we are bombarded with messages about sex and gender. On a daily basis we face deeply ingrained beliefs that your sex determines your skills and preferences, from toys and colours to career choice and salaries. But what does this constant gendering mean for our thoughts, decisions and behaviour? And what does it mean for our brains?
Drawing on her work as a professor of cognitive neuroimaging, Gina Rippon unpacks the stereotypes that bombard us from our earliest moments and shows how these messages mould our ideas of ourselves and even shape our brains. Taking us back through centuries of sexism, The Gendered Brain reveals how science has been misinterpreted or misused to ask the wrong questions. Instead of challenging the status quo, we are still bound by outdated stereotypes and assumptions.
By exploring new, cutting-edge neuroscience, Rippon urges us to move beyond a binary view of our brains and instead to see these complex organs as highly individualised, profoundly adaptable, and full of unbounded potential.
Remarkable: Five Women who Dare to Make a Difference by Lyse Doucet
Broadcast in January 2018 to mark the 100th anniversary of the first time British women won the vote, this fascinating series sees BBC Chief International Correspondent Lyse Doucet travel across the globe, meeting women from Northern Ireland, Saudi Arabia, Iceland, Afghanistan and Liberia. She hears reflections from some of the world's most influential women's rights activists, including former presidents, and shares her own experiences of reporting from some of the most troubled regions.
In Belfast Lyse speaks to Monica McWilliams, who was one of only two local women who were at the table during negotiations which led to the Good Friday Agreement of 1998. She then travels to Saudi Arabia to meet Madeha Al Ajroush, who battled for 30 years to get women the right to drive.
In 1980, Iceland did something no other nation had done: they elected a female head of state. Lyse Doucet travels to Reykjavik to meet Vigdis Finnbogadottir. Now 87, she was president for exactly sixteen years and remains the longest-serving elected female head of state of any country to date.
Lyse then meets the formidable Shukria Barakzai, Afghanistan's ambassador to Norway. Shukria was one of only a handful of female MPs to speak up for women's rights in Afghanistan, and faced death threats for her views. Finally, Lyse Doucet travels to Liberia to talk to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the first elected female head of state in Africa.
These inspiring in-depth interviews reveal the behind the scenes stories of key moments in our global history, and show that the victory of 1918 for women in Britain has continued to resonate through the last century.
Originally broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in January 2018 as Her Story Made History.
Producer: Ben Carter
Researcher: Louise Byrne
Everyday Sexism by Laura Bates
This book is a call to arms in a new wave of feminism and it proves sexism is endemic – socially, politically, and economically. But women won't stand for it. The Everyday Sexism Project is grounded in reality; packed with substance, validity, and integrity and it shows that women will no longer tolerate a society that ignores the dangers and endless effects of sexism.
In 2012 after being sexually harassed on London public transport Laura Bates, a young journalist, started a project called Everyday Sexism to collect stories for a piece she was writing on the issue. Astounded by the response she received and the wide range of stories that came pouring in from all over the world, she quickly realised that the situation was far worse than she'd initially thought. Enough was enough. From being leered at and wolf-whistled on the street, to aggravation in the work place and serious sexual assault, it was clear that sexism had been normalised. Bates decided it was time for change.
This bold, jaunty, and ultimately intelligent book is the first to give a collective voice to the protest against sexism. This game-changing book is a juggernaut of stories, often shocking, sometimes amusing, and always poignant - it is a must-listen for every inquisitive, no-nonsense modern woman. Welcome to the fourth wave of feminism.
Not that Bad : Dispatches from Rape Culture by Roxane Gay
Edited and with an introduction by Roxane Gay, the New York Times bestselling and deeply beloved author of Bad Feminist and Hunger, this anthology of first-person essays tackles rape, assault, and harassment head-on.
In this valuable and timely anthology, cultural critic and bestselling author Roxane Gay collects original and previously published pieces that address what it means to live in a world where women have to measure the harassment, violence and aggression they face, and where sexual-abuse survivors are 'routinely second-guessed, blown off, discredited, denigrated, besmirched, belittled, patronized, mocked, shamed, gaslit, insulted, bullied' for speaking out.
Highlighting the stories of well-known actors, writers and experts, as well as new voices being published for the first time, Not That Bad covers a wide range of topics and experiences, from an exploration of the rape epidemic embedded in the refugee crisis to first-person accounts of child molestation and street harrassment.
Often deeply personal and always unflinchingly honest, this provocative collection both reflects the world we live in and offers a call to arms insisting that 'not that bad' must no longer be good enough.
Rage Becomes Her by Sorya Chemaly
How many women cry when angry because we've held it in for so long? How many discover that anger turned inward is depression? Soraya Chemaly's Rage Becomes Her will be good for women. After all, women have a lot to be angry about.' GLORIA STEINEM
Women are angry, and it isn't hard to figure out why. We are underpaid, overworked, thwarted and diminished. The assertive among us are labelled bitches, while the expressive among us are considered shrill. We are told to stand down when we have an opinion and to calm down when we are fired up. And when we somehow manage to put one high heel-battered foot in front of the other despite all of this, we're asked if it would kill us to smile.
We are mad as hell, and that's completely okay. Because contrary to the endless barrage of self-help rhetoric about anger management and letting go, the reality is that our rage is the most important resource we have as women, a force for creation rather than destruction, our sharpest tool against both personal and political oppression. Anger is not what gets in our way, it is our way. All we need to do is own it.
This is a pitch perfect, engaging, and accessible credo written by one of today’s most influential feminists. Analysing female anger as it relates to topics like self-worth, objectification, pain, care, fear, silence, and denial, Soraya illuminates how and why we repress our anger, revealing the harm that this causes, and helping us recognise the liberating power of owning our anger and marshalling it as a vital tool for positive change.
Just as Quiet brought about a new embrace of introversion, Rage Becomes Her will bring about an embrace of feminine anger that will leave women feeling liberated, inspired and connected to an entire universe of women who are no longer interested in making nice.
Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg
Ask most women whether they have the right to equality at work and the answer will be a resounding yes, but ask the same women whether they'd feel confident asking for a raise, a promotion, or equal pay, and some reticence creeps in.
The statistics, although an improvement on previous decades, are certainly not in women's favour - of 197 heads of state, only twenty-two are women. Women hold just 20 percent of seats in parliaments globally, and in the world of big business, a meagre eighteen of the Fortune 500 CEOs are women.
In Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg - Facebook COO and one of Fortune magazine's Most Powerful Women in Business - draws on her own experience of working in some of the world's most successful businesses and looks at what women can do to help themselves, and make the small changes in their life that can effect change on a more universal scale.
Learning to 'lean in' is about tackling the anxieties and preconceptions that stop women reaching the top - taking a place at the table, and making yourself a part of the debate.
Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men by Caroline Criado Perez
Invisible Women takes on the neglected topic of what we don't know - and why. The result is a powerful, important and eye-opening analysis of the gender politics of knowledge and ignorance. With examples from technology to natural disasters, this is an original and timely reminder of why we need women in the leadership of the institutions that shape every aspect of our lives.' Cordelia Fine
You've heard all about the Gender Pay Gap... Welcome to the Gender Data Gap
Our world is largely built for and by men, in a system that can ignore half the population. This book will tell you how and why this matters
In her new book, Invisible Women, award-winning campaigner and writer Caroline Criado Perez shows us how, in a world largely built for and by men, we are systematically ignoring half the population. She exposes the gender data gap – a gap in our knowledge that is at the root of perpetual, systemic discrimination against women, and that has created a pervasive but invisible bias with a profound effect on women’s lives.
Caroline brings together for the first time an impressive range of case studies, stories and new research from across the world that illustrate the hidden ways in which women are excluded from the very building blocks of the world we live in, and the impact this has on their health and wellbeing. From government policy and medical research, to technology, workplaces, urban planning and the media – Invisible Women exposes the biased data that excludes women. In making the case for change, this powerful and provocative book will make you see the world anew.
How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran
It's a good time to be a woman: we have the vote and the Pill, and we haven't been burnt as witches since 1727. However, a few nagging questions do remain...
Why are we supposed to get Brazilians? Should we use Botox? Do men secretly hate us? And why does everyone ask you when you're going to have a baby?
Part memoir, part rant, Caitlin answers the questions that every modern woman is asking.
"It would almost be unkind to call this an important book, because what it mostly is is engaging, brave and consistently, cleverly naughtily funny, but actually it is important that we talk about this stuff" — Katy Guest
Period by Emma Barnett
Emma loathes her period. Really, she does. But there’s something she loathes even more: not being able to talk about it. Freely, funnily and honestly. Without men and women wrinkling their noses as if she’s pulled her tampon out and offered it as an hors d’ouevre.
But somehow, despite women having had periods since the dawn of time, we’ve totally clammed up on anything to do with menstruation. Why, oh why, would we rather say ‘Auntie Flo’ than ‘period’? Why, in the 21st century, are periods still seen as icky? Why are we still so ignorant about such a fundamental bodily process?
Now, in Period., Emma draws on female experiences that will make you laugh, weep (and, most probably, squirm), in a fierce and funny rallying cry to smash this ridiculous taboo once and for all.
Because it’s about bloody time.
A History of Britain in 21 Women by Jenni Murray
Boadicea battled the Romans. Nancy Astor fought in Parliament. Emmeline Pankhurst campaigned for female suffrage. Elizabeth Garrett Anderson became a pioneering physician in a man’s profession. Mary Quant revolutionised the fashion industry.
Britain has traditionally been defined by its conflicts, its conquests, its men and its monarchs. It’s high time that it was defined by its women. In this unique history, Jenni Murray tells the stories of twenty-one women who refused to succumb to the established laws of society, whose lives embodied hope and change. Famous queens, forgotten visionaries, great artists and trailblazing politicians all pushed back boundaries and revolutionised our world. In Murray’s hands their stories are enthralling and beguiling; they have the power to inspire us once again.
The Genius of Women: From Overlooked to Changing the World by Janice Kaplan
We tell girls that they can be anything, so why do 90 percent of Americans believe that geniuses are almost always men? New York Times bestselling journalist Janice Kaplan explores the powerful forces that have rigged the system—and celebrates the women geniuses past and present who have triumphed anyway.
Even in this time of rethinking women’s roles, we define genius almost exclusively through male achievement. When asked to name a genius, people mention Albert Einstein, Leonardo da Vinci, and Steve Jobs. As for great women? In one survey, the only female genius anyone listed was Marie Curie.
Janice Kaplan, the New York Times bestselling author of The Gratitude Diaries, set out to determine why the extraordinary work of so many women has been brushed aside. Using her unique mix of memoir, narrative, and inspiration, she makes surprising discoveries about women geniuses now and throughout history, in fields from music to robotics. Through interviews with neuroscientists, psychologists, and dozens of women geniuses at work in the world today—including Nobel Prize winner Frances Arnold and AI expert Fei-Fei Li—she proves that genius isn't just about talent. It's about having that talent recognized, nurtured, and celebrated.
Across the generations, even when they face less-than-perfect circumstances, women geniuses have created brilliant and original work. In The Genius of Women, you’ll learn how they ignored obstacles and broke down seemingly unshakable barriers. The geniuses in this moving, powerful, and very entertaining book provide more than inspiration—they offer a clear blueprint to everyone who wants to find her own path and move forward with passion.
Wordslut: A Feminist Guide to Taking Back the English Language by Amanda Montell
The word bitch conjures many images for many people, but it is most often meant to describe an unpleasant woman. Even before its usage to mean a female canine, bitch didn’t refer to gender at all—it originated as a gender-neutral word meaning genitalia. A perfectly innocuous word devolving into a female insult is the case for tons more terms, including hussy—which simply meant housewife—or slut, which meant an untidy person and was also used to describe men. These words are just a few among history’s many English slurs hurled at women.
Amanda Montell, reporter and feminist linguist, deconstructs language—from insults and cursing, gossip, and catcalling to grammar and pronunciation patterns—to reveal the ways it has been used for centuries to keep women and other marginalized genders from power. Ever wonder why so many people are annoyed when women talk with vocal fry or use the word like as a filler? Or why certain gender-neutral terms stick and others don’t? Or where stereotypes of how women and men speak come from in the first place?
Montell effortlessly moves between history, science, and popular culture to explore these questions and more—and how we can use the answers to effect real social change.
Women who Launch by Marlene Wagman-Geller
Dorothy Parker observed, “It’s a man’s world”; the lady entrepreneurs and game-changers profiled in Women Who Launch would beg to differ. Unlike the matrons of the 1950s—the women who lunched—these kick-ass females left their DNA in the annals of time.
A history of women in business and beyond: Julia Ward-Howe showed what’s good for the goose is good for the gander when she created the Girl Scouts of America. Sarah Josepha Hale—authoress of Mary Had a Little Lamb—convinced Lincoln to launch a national day of thanks while Anna Jarvis persuaded President Wilson to initiate a day in tribute of mothers. Estee Lauder revolutionized the cosmetics industry. The tradition of these Mothers of Invention continued when, compliments of knitter Krista Suh, the heads of millions were adorned with pink, pussy-cat ears in the largest women’s march in history. These women who launched prove, in the words of Rosie the Riveter, “We can do it!”
Biographies of women creators, innovators, and leaders: Women Who Launch is filled with inspiring true stories of women activists, artists, and entrepreneurs who launched some of the most famous companies, brands, and organizations today and changed the world. It is at once a collection of biographies and a testament of female empowerment.
Readers will find the stories behind renowned companies, brands, and organizations and the diverse women who launched them;empowering quotes from strong women and those who refused to be kept down; and motivation to all women who want to succeed in their careers, launch companies, and change the world.
Find motivation in your career and life with the amazing history of women entrepreneurship, activism, and leadership.
Speak Your Truth by Fearne Cotton
Fearne Cotton's voice is familiar to millions, whether that's through television, radio or on her hugely successful Happy Place podcast. Her voice is her career, her livelihood and the way she communicates with her audience and her loved ones. So, when Fearne's doctor told her she was at risk of needing a throat operation followed by two weeks of being unable to speak, she found herself facing a period of unexpected contemplation.
As she considered what silence would mean, Fearne began to think about other times her voice had gone unheard – as a young woman, as 'just the talent', as the foil to louder, more dominant figures. She found herself wondering, at what point do we internalise this message and start silencing ourselves? When do we swallow down our authentic words to become pleasers and compromisers at the cost of our own happiness or wellbeing? Speak Your Truth dives into all the ways we learn to stay quiet for the wrong reasons, and explores how to find your voice, assert yourself and speak out with confidence.
Brave, vulnerable and deeply personal, Speak Your Truth shares Fearne's compelling story and helps you to shape your own
Wild Irish Women : Extraordinary Lives From History by Marian Broderick
In times when women were expected to marry and have children, they travelled the world and sought out adventures; in times when women were expected to be seen and not heard, they spoke out in loud voices against oppression; in times when women were expected to have no interest in politics, literature, art, or the world outside the home, they used every creative means available to give expression to their thoughts, ideas and beliefs. In a series of succinct and often amusing biographies, Marian Broderick tells the life stories of these exceptional Irish women.