15 of the best books about gender equality

The best leaders are readers. As a former English teacher, I believe that reading gives us the opportunity to walk in another’s shoes, to learn something new, to push the boundaries of our world. 

Whether you’re a feminist looking to expand your knowledge or an ally who wants to understand how you can improve gender equity in your workplace, these are some of my favorite reads on gender equality.

So grab a cup of tea, snuggle up with a cozy blanket, and let’s dive in.

(Listed in alphabetical order because, as mentioned, I’m a former teacher). 

15 books about gender equality

1. Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay

Goodreads review: “Roxane Gay moved me in a way that I haven’t been moved in quite a while with this collection of essays, ostensibly umbrella’d under the topic of feminism. Gay also addresses race, culture, and Scrabble competitions.”

2. Burnout by Emily Nagoski and Amelia Nagoski

My review: I listened to the audiobook and every time they said “patriarchy, ugh” my spirits lifted.

Goodreads review: “Good, science-based advice that doesn’t involve just taking a bubble bath, taking a deep breath, and plunging back into the fray.”

3. DEI Deconstructed by Lily Zheng

Goodreads review: “Zheng takes an outcomes based approach and lays out a clear path to helping us all do better in creating more equitable, diverse, and inclusive organizations. They don’t pretend that it is easy, but they do show what is possible while acknowledging that this work is constantly evolving; and we must evolve along with it.”

4. Fair Play by Eve Rodsky

Goodreads review: “Rodsky’s system for dividing household labor is simple, practical, and effective…Her approach is based on mutual respect, open communication, and a willingness to experiment and adapt.”

5. Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women That a Movement Forgot by Mikki Kendall

Goodreads review: “Kendall challenges mainstream feminist movements to confront their blind spots and prioritize the needs of marginalized women. Her essays cover a wide range of topics, from reproductive justice and police violence to food insecurity and cultural appropriation.”

6. Inclusion on Purpose by Ruchika Tulshyan

My review: The idea of “culture fit as coded bias” is something that will stay with me forever. Now, I’m always on the lookout for “culture add.” 

Goodreads review: “Tulshyan inspires action in the reader. Each chapter contains simple yet effective tools, building upon each other so that the reader feels equipped to start implementing inclusion on purpose at their place of work.”

7. Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men by Caroline Criado Perez

My review: Must read. Very data heavy so it reads somewhat like a reference book, but a very interesting and valuable one. (I’m still thinking about the “default male body” in car crashes and medical testing). 

Goodreads review: “This book is a wake-up call for anyone who thinks we’ve achieved gender equality. Criado-Perez shows how pervasive and insidious gender bias is in our society, from the design of cars and medical research to the allocation of public resources and the collection of data.”

8. Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg

Goodreads review: “Sandberg encourages women to take risks, speak up, and support each other, and she challenges men to become better allies and advocates. This book is a must-read for anyone who wants to advance their career and make a difference in the world.”

9. Mediocre: The Dangerous Legacy of White Male America by Ijeoma Oluo

Goodreads review: “This book is a powerhouse…Oluo’s writing is clear, direct, and compelling. She has a gift for breaking down complex topics and exposing the roots of systemic issues.”

10. Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions by Gloria Steinem

Goodreads review: “Steinem is not afraid to challenge conventional wisdom or confront uncomfortable truths. Her voice is inspiring and empowering, and she makes you want to be a better person and a better advocate for social justice.”

11. That’s What She Said by Joanne Lipman

My review: A great primer for men and women interested in the realities of gender inequality in the 2020s. Not in your face, very digestible.

Goodreads review: “‘That’s What She Said’ is filled with optimism for the future and guidance on how we move forward together to raise women up so we are all equal. Men, we need to do more…We need to be part of the conversation and more comfortable speaking about gender.”

12. The First, the Few, the Only: How Women of Color Can Redefine Power in Corporate America by Deepa Purushothaman

Goodreads review: “I loved the ideas of co-conspirators, making our own “table”, and not buying into the scarcity ideal and helping other BIPOC women to our table. So much food for thought and how women can create more success in the corporate world and C-Suite.”

13. The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World by Melinda Gates

Goodreads review: “She is my kind of feminist. Seeking equality so we can create connection. Being honest about the difficulties women face so we can work together to change it. Women, please read this book – it’s empowering and validating. Men, please read this book – it will help you understand a fight that could really use you.”

14. We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Goodreads review: “This is the single most convincing essay I’ve ever read on feminism. It does not point fingers and blame men for a cultural mind-set they were born into. Instead, it offers calm logical arguments for positive change going forward. And that’s what the world needs.”

15. Wolfpack by Abby Wambach

    My review: Abby sums up so many of the important truths I’ve been learning about womanhood lately, making them actionable and universal: Have the confidence to ask for the ball, point to another woman when you score, lead with gratitude AND ambition. Loved it.

    Goodreads review: “The ‘rules’ that Wambach lays out may seem simple, but they’re actually so revolutionary. Think about how different the world would be if every person decided to own up to their inherent power. Even better, think about a world where we are all in the same wolfpack, all fighting for each other and creating space and opportunity for people to lead.”

    What books would you add? Share your favorite gender equity books with me and I just might add them to the list.

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