women celebration PE020

A Powerful International Women’s Day Reading List—Written by Women!

Read our International Women’s Day reading list where we offer you a selection of inspiring and invigorating books written with passion and fire to ignite your soul.

At SHL, we believe in women’s rights in the workplace. Whether it is working moms or women in tech, I feel that we are lucky enough to be surrounded by amazing women who strive to be where they are today. For that reason, we are celebrating International Women's Day all month long. In honor of this special celebration, I have compiled a compelling reading list of female authors who explore the reality that women experience and the challenges facing them.

Here is our International Women’s Day reading list

Men Explain Things to Me: And Other Essays by Rebecca Solnit

Solnit's essay 'Men Explain Things to Me' has become a touchstone of the feminist movement, and inspired the term 'mansplaining'. Established as one of the leading contemporary feminist thinkers, she inspired everyone from radical activists to Beyonce Knowles. She covers an enormous range of topics, from rape culture, mansplaining, French sex scandals, marriage, and the nuclear family, to Virginia Woolf and colonialism. She offers a fierce and incisive exploration of issues that our culture does not necessarily acknowledge as 'issues' at all. With grace and energy, and inviting prose, Solnit provides us a lens to consider how these larger issues fit into our lives and how to articulate the work still to be done.

Lean Out, by Dawn Foster

In response to the heralded “Lean In” book by Sherly Sandberg, acclaimed journalist Dawn Foster unpicks how the purportedly feminist message neatly exempts patriarchy, capitalism, and business from any responsibility for change. It looks at the rise of a corporate “1% feminism”, and at how feminism has been defanged and depoliticized. This at the same time that women have borne the brunt of the financial crash and the gap between rich and poor is widening faster than ever. Foster challenges this “trickledown” feminism as mere window-dressing PR for the corporations who caused the financial crash. She concludes that “leaning out” of the corporate model is a more effective way of securing change than leaning in.

The Authority Gap by Mary Ann Sieghart

This recently published book (in 2021) demonstrates the million and one ways that women are STILL taken less seriously than men in all areas of life. The book demonstrates a robust evidence base with a myriad of research and data that evidences how women are overlooked, under-estimated, and criticized more harshly than men. One profound piece of evidence demonstrates how 5-year-old boys over-estimate their own intelligence and rate 5-year-old girls as less clever than themselves. Even though girls outperform boys academically at all stages of school. This is just one experience that holds women back at every stage of their lives.

This is a manual for talented women to navigate their careers and a must-read for everyone. The book concludes with how we can overcome these challenges as a society.

Bad Feminist, by Roxane Gay

In these funny and insightful essays, Gay takes us through the journey of her evolution as a woman of color while also taking readers on a ride through the culture of the last few years and commenting on the state of feminism today. Gay emerges as an incredibly insightful woman continually growing to understand herself, our society, and our culture. Bad Feminist is a sharp, funny, and spot-on look at the ways in which the culture we consume becomes who we are, and an inspiring call-to-arms of all the ways we still need to do better.

Double X Economy by Linda Scott

Linda Scott’s book explores the stark reality that the global economy is built upon gender inequality. She describes how harnessing the power and potential of women could be the answer to the world’s biggest problems and would improve social, financial, and environmental conditions around the world.

The Vanishing Half by Britt Bennett

Shortlisted for the women’s prize 2021 and a #1 New York Times bestseller, this is a beautiful book about family, identity, race, and gender. It features identical twin girls who run away from home at 16 and Britt tells their story through a network of complex, rich characters.

As we are almost closing the month of March, let’s remember that celebrating women’s achievements and impact around the world goes beyond the special day. And I hope this International Women’s Day reading list can help you get inspired, understand the topic more, and finally, be an ally in the movement.

Check out our International Women’s Day collection page for more resources that can help you empower women in your organization!

headshot nicholls sophia


Sophia Nicholls

Sophia is an Organizational Psychologist and a Senior Consultant at SHL. She holds a First Class master’s degree in organizational psychology and has worked as a consultant developing the potential of people and talent for 6 years. She is also an Executive and Leadership Coach completing a qualification with the Institute of Leadership and Management. She is passionate about talent development because she believes that people are an organization's greatest asset.

Explore SHL’s Wide Range of Solutions

With our platform of pre-configured talent acquisition and talent management solutions, maximize the potential of your company’s greatest asset—your people.

See Our Solutions