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Books to Read If You’re Working in a Boys’ Club

To quote one author, “Success is not a solo sport”

reading and coffee

Ijeoma S. Nwatu is a freelance writer and book lover who covers lifestyle content, women leaders, culture, and more.

Women make up nearly half the workforce, have a buying power in the trillions, and earn more degrees than men.

Yet despite this winning accolades, modern business and the workplaces are still very much gendered in that they favor and support men.

Think of any time you’ve faced adversity when speaking up in meetings, negotiating salary, and dealing with chauvinism in the office. Frankly, it can be hard to navigate and perform at your best when your working with guys.

Don’t get us wrong: Men are not evil. But working in an environment that isn’t female-friendly takes a finesse, emotional intelligence, and good ol’ confidence. A power pose or two does not hurt.

Take some time to peruse a few of these titles to better advocate for yourself while working in a boys’ club.               

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How To Be Successful Without Hurting Men’s Feelings

Author: Sarah Cooper

Laughter is good medicine. Cooper’s humorous takes and approach on what to do or, rather, what not to do in the workplace will grab your attention. Her comedy is part sarcasm, part #facts on working with men. You will chuckle at the thought of gender neutralizing your resume (bonus points for using the phrase “game changer”). You might even commiserate a bit about policing your own tone of voice at work. She even asks the uncomfortable question, “Do you want to be likable or successful?” Cooper did time in testerone-dominated environments in the tech world, including stints at Google and Yahoo!. It means her experiences and examples are based in that arena, but by looking at a boys’ club from a lighthearted perspective, you can see the frivolity (or stupidity) in any workplace. A new outlook can help build your confidence and keep you sane. Come for the advice and stay for the funny illustrations.

Own It

Author: Sallie Krawcheck  

At one time in her career, Krawcheck was one of the top female executives on Wall Street. One statement she claims resonated with her was this: “Being a woman in the business world is not a liability; it’s power.” The sooner you own that power, the better. Besides, being a woman adds to the diversity of your team and company. Krawcheck shares the advantages women bring to the table like risk awareness, relationship building, and a focus on making an impact. Her personal stories within the dominated space of finance are refreshingly raw and add context to her advice. BONUS: She offers advice on investing, including dispelling myths.

That’s What She Said | What Men Need To Know (And Women Need To Tell Them) About Working Together

Author: Joanne Lipman

Early in her book, Lipman discusses some of the frustration female administration officials experienced during the Obama White House.  The concerns stemmed from being “overlooked and bulldozed by the men in the meetings.” Classic boys’ club move. Support one another by amplifying each other. Lipman explains that when a woman spoke up in a meeting, another woman would reiterate her point. This reinforcement , literally and figuratively, was to ensure ownership of their idea in lieu of a male colleague stealing it. Practicing amplification, especially in a boys’ club is a must. It’s important to feel seen and heard, so bring in your reinforcements if and when you need them.  

The Most Powerful Woman In The Room Is You 

Author: Lydia Fenet

In her book, first-time author Fenet shares the painful realization she had while getting lunch with her friends: She had never considered negotiating her salary. That story and many others from high-ranking women like Alexandra Wilkis Wilson, Barbara Corcoran, Dee Poku are sprinkled throughout the book as real-life examples we can learn from. One of the best takeaways is a tip from Fenet’s father, “the king of all networkers,”—“Network or die.” Think about it, if you are the most powerful woman (you are!), your network should reflect that fact. When working in a boys’ club, consider how you can network with your colleagues, build alliances, and focus on a common goal. Fenet argues, “Advancing in your career is about knowing people—the right people—and making a good impression.”

These books are just a few titles out there to empower you no matter your workplace situation. Play the long game and leverage your relationships, even with the boys.

Minda Harts, entrepreneur and author of The Memo: What Women of Color Need To Know To Secure A Seat at The Table, says it best, “In my experience, men have been my biggest advocates in the workplace. They have opened up the door for me and created a seat at the table. Many of the opportunities that I received was because of my male colleagues knowing my career aspirations and using their privilege to create opportunities for me. But, that required self-advocacy on my part. As women, we can’t afford to be ambivalent about what we want in the workplace. Success is not a solo sport.”  

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