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An inspirational and practical book written by two high-achieving women, sharing the experience and advice of some of our most extraordinary women leaders, in their own words. From their broad experience on the world stage in politics, economics and global not-for-profits, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Julia Gillard have some strong ideas about the impact of gender on the treatme An inspirational and practical book written by two high-achieving women, sharing the experience and advice of some of our most extraordinary women leaders, in their own words. From their broad experience on the world stage in politics, economics and global not-for-profits, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Julia Gillard have some strong ideas about the impact of gender on the treatment of leaders. Women and Leadership takes a consistent and comprehensive approach to teasing out what is different for women leaders. Almost every year new findings are published about the way people see women leaders compared with their male counterparts. The authors have taken that academic work and tested it in the real world. The same set of interview questions were put to each leader in frank face-to-face interviews. Their responses were then used to examine each woman's journey in leadership and whether their lived experiences were in line with or different from what the research would predict. Women and Leadership presents a lively and readable analysis of the influence of gender on women's access to positions of leadership, the perceptions of them as leaders, the trajectory of their leadership and the circumstances in which it comes to an end. By presenting the lessons that can be learned from women leaders, Julia and Ngozi provide a road map of essential knowledge to inspire us all, and an action agenda for change that allows women to take control and combat gender bias. Featuring Jacinda Ardern, Hillary Clinton, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Theresa May, Michelle Bachelet, Joyce Banda, Erna Solberg, Christine Lagarde and more.


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An inspirational and practical book written by two high-achieving women, sharing the experience and advice of some of our most extraordinary women leaders, in their own words. From their broad experience on the world stage in politics, economics and global not-for-profits, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Julia Gillard have some strong ideas about the impact of gender on the treatme An inspirational and practical book written by two high-achieving women, sharing the experience and advice of some of our most extraordinary women leaders, in their own words. From their broad experience on the world stage in politics, economics and global not-for-profits, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Julia Gillard have some strong ideas about the impact of gender on the treatment of leaders. Women and Leadership takes a consistent and comprehensive approach to teasing out what is different for women leaders. Almost every year new findings are published about the way people see women leaders compared with their male counterparts. The authors have taken that academic work and tested it in the real world. The same set of interview questions were put to each leader in frank face-to-face interviews. Their responses were then used to examine each woman's journey in leadership and whether their lived experiences were in line with or different from what the research would predict. Women and Leadership presents a lively and readable analysis of the influence of gender on women's access to positions of leadership, the perceptions of them as leaders, the trajectory of their leadership and the circumstances in which it comes to an end. By presenting the lessons that can be learned from women leaders, Julia and Ngozi provide a road map of essential knowledge to inspire us all, and an action agenda for change that allows women to take control and combat gender bias. Featuring Jacinda Ardern, Hillary Clinton, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Theresa May, Michelle Bachelet, Joyce Banda, Erna Solberg, Christine Lagarde and more.

30 review for Women and Leadership: Real Lives, Real Lessons

  1. 5 out of 5

    Amy Ryan

    I NEEDED to read this book. The lessons from these inspiring women could apply to anyone, and particularly resonated with me as a woman in business. I particularly loved a quote from Jacinda Ardern where she says 'I still constantly questioned whether I had the right character traits and personality for that environment, because I'm a sensitive person, I'm empathetic, I don't like the agressive side of politics.' I receive this criticism almost weekly at the moment and this book made me feel les I NEEDED to read this book. The lessons from these inspiring women could apply to anyone, and particularly resonated with me as a woman in business. I particularly loved a quote from Jacinda Ardern where she says 'I still constantly questioned whether I had the right character traits and personality for that environment, because I'm a sensitive person, I'm empathetic, I don't like the agressive side of politics.' I receive this criticism almost weekly at the moment and this book made me feel less alone and unworthy of my position. Well done Julia Gillard & Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, I hope your book can motivate and inspire girls all over the world to dream big and back themselves (and others!).

  2. 5 out of 5

    Bec

    Such a powerful and interesting guide to getting started in politics. This fanatics novel is for anyone looking for empowerment or for getting their foot into politics door. Challenging gender stereotypes, pay and position inequalities, motherhood and even a little bit of fashion. Featuring Jacinda Ardern, Hillary Clinton, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Theresa May, Michelle Bachelet, Joyce Banda, Erna Solberg and Christine Lagarde just to name a few. We get insight into each of these influential women’s Such a powerful and interesting guide to getting started in politics. This fanatics novel is for anyone looking for empowerment or for getting their foot into politics door. Challenging gender stereotypes, pay and position inequalities, motherhood and even a little bit of fashion. Featuring Jacinda Ardern, Hillary Clinton, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Theresa May, Michelle Bachelet, Joyce Banda, Erna Solberg and Christine Lagarde just to name a few. We get insight into each of these influential women’s journey into politics the good, the bad and the awful. Each woman had such a differ experience from death threats to first lady’s and resting bitch faces. Hillary’s presidential campaign and loss to Trump. Insight into Julia’s life and struggles. My favourite insight was learning more about Jacinda Ardern’s life from growing up in a Mormon home to university, travel and starting in politics. She battled and worked her butt off to get where she is today. Not handed a single free ride or leg up from anyone. Becoming prime minister, falling pregnant while in term and being and her partners role swap.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer (JC-S)

    ‘Women leaders all seem to be facing the same kinds of problems …’ This book, co-authored by Julia Gillard, Australia’s first woman prime minister, and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, former Nigerian finance minister, looks at why there are so few women at the top level of politics. Ms Gillard and Ms Okonjo-Iweala draw on their own experience as well as on interviews with eight women leaders: Jacinda Adern; Hillary Clinton; Ellen Johnson Sirleaf; Theresa May; Michelle Bachelet; Joyce Banda; Erna Solberg and ‘Women leaders all seem to be facing the same kinds of problems …’ This book, co-authored by Julia Gillard, Australia’s first woman prime minister, and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, former Nigerian finance minister, looks at why there are so few women at the top level of politics. Ms Gillard and Ms Okonjo-Iweala draw on their own experience as well as on interviews with eight women leaders: Jacinda Adern; Hillary Clinton; Ellen Johnson Sirleaf; Theresa May; Michelle Bachelet; Joyce Banda; Erna Solberg and Christine Lagarde. Why is this such an important issue? Well, consider this: ‘The World Economic Forum has calculated that, if we continue to improve at the current rate, closing the global gender gap in political representation will take ninety-five years.’ While Ms Gillard and Ms Okonjo-Iweala have focussed on women leaders in politics, much of what they write applies to women in leadership roles more generally. In the book, they test eight hypotheses by asking each of their interviewees a set of questions. The headings of the eight hypotheses are: 1 You go girl 2 It’s all about the hair 3 Shrill or soft (the style conundrum) 4 She’s a bit of a bitch 5 Who’s minding the kids? 6 A special place in hell – do women really support women? 7 Modern-day Salem 8 The role-modelling riddle Sadly, it does not look like sexism is going to disappear anytime soon. But in a chapter entitled ‘The stand-out lessons from eight lives and eight hypotheses, aspiring leaders are reminded to ‘Be aware, not beware’. This is important: while in writing this book Ms Gillard and Ms Okonjo-Iweala want to inspire women to pursue leadership roles, they have not glossed over the challenges. There are other valuable observations, and a reminder. Both Ms Gillard and Ms Okonjo-Iweala are involved in sponsorship and mentorship. The publisher of this book observed that, despite all of the work they were doing they were both acting like stereotypical women and highlighting their failures and guilt. ‘Naturally, in response to her assessment, we edited. But there is something laugh-out-loud ridiculous about two intelligent, dedicated women writing tens of thousands of words about gendered stereotyping and then falling for it in our behaviour.’ I’d recommend this book to anyone interested in the issues faced by women in leadership. Jennifer Cameron-Smith

  4. 4 out of 5

    Madelon North

    I did enjoy this book. I particularly liked the insight into each of the leaders and how they came to power and their insights into each of the research questions posited by the authors. I think there were some great lessons in here and it is inspiring to know that it is possible for women to overcome the gender stereotypes and all manner of glass to become leaders of different countries all in different ways. I also liked that they mention at the start that they are aware they’re talking from t I did enjoy this book. I particularly liked the insight into each of the leaders and how they came to power and their insights into each of the research questions posited by the authors. I think there were some great lessons in here and it is inspiring to know that it is possible for women to overcome the gender stereotypes and all manner of glass to become leaders of different countries all in different ways. I also liked that they mention at the start that they are aware they’re talking from the binary, and that they weren’t being as intersectional as they could have been. My only issue is with some of the research terminology and that is 100% a me thing, but it really did bring down the experience of reading it. And I felt it got a little repetitive towards the end. Apart from this though I do think it’s a fantastic read for everyone regardless of their gender identity.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Brooke Alice (brookes.bookstagram)

    I found this book very empowering to hear voices and information from so many inspiring strong and independent women. I particularly liked getting to lean more about each leader, their own personal journey of their lives and how they have achieved what they have in a professional sense. I particularly enjoyed reading about Jacinda Ardern and her struggles in her life, and overcoming the gender stereotypes about being pregnant, unmarried, and not being the primary care giver for her child. I found I found this book very empowering to hear voices and information from so many inspiring strong and independent women. I particularly liked getting to lean more about each leader, their own personal journey of their lives and how they have achieved what they have in a professional sense. I particularly enjoyed reading about Jacinda Ardern and her struggles in her life, and overcoming the gender stereotypes about being pregnant, unmarried, and not being the primary care giver for her child. I found hers the most inspirational as she is not adhering to any form of patriarchal control. Overall, I enjoyed learning more, and knowing that with these women in power, we can see more of our world bending towads something I am far more proud of. We might still be a long way away from gender equality, but we are sure making it known that we are out here and can tackle anything!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Madeline

    This book went above and beyond my expectations. Exploring the personal, political and professional implications of sexism, through the perspectives of an array of female leaders (capturing the voices of female politicians from almost EVERY continent). I was pleasantly surprised to find this book takes a methodical approach to a scientific research, leaving no stone unturned, with the hypotheses of both authors tested and analysed. A must read.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Kendall

    As a female leader in a secondary school, this book was inspiring and eye opening. There are so many fantastic lessons to take away from the stories of these inspirational women that translate across cultures, countries and working environments. Not only does this book empower women reading it, but also provides a very realistic look into the struggles that women face in their strive for leadership - examining work/life balance, stereotyping, the role the media can play and the questions asked o As a female leader in a secondary school, this book was inspiring and eye opening. There are so many fantastic lessons to take away from the stories of these inspirational women that translate across cultures, countries and working environments. Not only does this book empower women reading it, but also provides a very realistic look into the struggles that women face in their strive for leadership - examining work/life balance, stereotyping, the role the media can play and the questions asked of women that would not be considered for their male counterparts. Engaging, shocking and thought-provoking, this is a must read for all women AND men.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Caroline

    This was a fascinating book. Julia and Ngozi have put together something really fascinating; speaking to women from various countries and with varying political careers and struggles. Both authors have written an introduction (and in the audiobook, each narrate their own) and they were so wonderful. It sounds odd for an introduction to be a highlight of a book but I loved listening to these women speak, even briefly, on their career and the experiences that led to the writing of Women and Leader This was a fascinating book. Julia and Ngozi have put together something really fascinating; speaking to women from various countries and with varying political careers and struggles. Both authors have written an introduction (and in the audiobook, each narrate their own) and they were so wonderful. It sounds odd for an introduction to be a highlight of a book but I loved listening to these women speak, even briefly, on their career and the experiences that led to the writing of Women and Leadership. As the book continued, I did enjoy the words from interviews with other leaders. Things are structured around eight hypotheses: 1. You go girl 2. It’s all about the hair 3. Shrill or soft (the style conundrum) 4. She’s a bit of a bitch 5. Who’s minding the kids? 6. A special place in hell – do women really support women? 7. Modern-day Salem 8. The role-modelling riddle I was a big fan of the points made in a few of these, particularly 2, 3 and 4. I also quite enjoyed the concluding section which urges young women to pursue political careers and not be put off by the frank portrayal of leaderships challenges in this book. Overall though, I am not sure I loved the structure. It seemed that, at times, not much focus was given to the leaders interviewed in these sections and it was more an analysis or observation. This is still interesting but I was more interested in the anecdotes and lessons regarding overcoming stereotypes/ glass ceilings. There were a few times where I thought more time could've been given to dissecting statements by interviewees. One point stood out as bothersome- Hillary Clinton muses in passing that not all men in politics are bad as a few men helped her get her foot in the door. I thought that whilst this is true, it ignores the fact that it had to be a man who helped her get her foot in the door because there aren't women in politics. That's half the point of the book! It bothered me a lot once I did some overthinking. I'm glad I read this book, it's incredibly interesting and there was something empowering about it. But there was also something lacking for me... so 3/5.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Shirley Bateman

    Inspiring accounts from female leaders around the world. Interesting insights into the women’s journeys into leadership and how they differ from their male counterparts’ experiences. All of the women featured are extraordinary but it’s clear to see we’re still a long way from gender equality.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Gabriel Thomas

    Important insights into gender issues in world leadership and how they are portrayed in media and society. It is especially important for us men to read this book and those like it to gain a better understanding of the extra challenges women face everyday.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Millie May

    Such a brilliant and empowering book! Highly recommend!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Megan

    Julia Gillard and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala interviewed eight current or former world leaders from politics about their experiences, as a woman, in that sphere. They presented eight hypotheses on encouragement to lead, commentary on appearance, the style conundrum, being seen as a 'bitch', family, supporting other women, the 'witch' issue and role modelling. These are the interviews that are hard to get and so it makes perfect sense that Julie and Ngozi would write this book. p.32 on the glass ceiling, Julia Gillard and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala interviewed eight current or former world leaders from politics about their experiences, as a woman, in that sphere. They presented eight hypotheses on encouragement to lead, commentary on appearance, the style conundrum, being seen as a 'bitch', family, supporting other women, the 'witch' issue and role modelling. These are the interviews that are hard to get and so it makes perfect sense that Julie and Ngozi would write this book. p.32 on the glass ceiling, labyrinth and cliff: "Yes, that is a hell of a lot of glass, and for the women who break through there is always the nasty consequence of being surrounded by jagged, dangerous shards." It stood out for me that while these women, from both the conservative and liberal sides of politics, all had stories to tell they did so in quite a guarded way, or even downplayed the sexism they get or got. So many of us do this. It's as if we don't even like to admit it to ourselves. In my last job at executive level a consultant commented to me once "gosh it must be hard being the only woman on this team". I brushed him off, a little bit cross. Of course it wasn't hard, its the same for me as everyone else not the team. Six months later I left that organisation and found that it wasn't the same for everyone else. I didn't realise the tide I was swimming against was just for me. The others were in a calm pool by comparison. The classic boiled frog. We don't even see. And this is what it is like. We don't know any different. And yet it could be different. This book is not so much about changing the system as learning to navigate the system while changing it bit by bit. I was fascinated by reading the back stories of these amazing women. It reminded me of the research done by Terry Fitzsimmons on "Why are there so few women CEOs?". He found that, for men, the pathway was quite simple: grow up in a traditional household, captain the footy team, go to uni etc. For every woman CEO he interviewed (which was every single one in Australia at the time) they had been 'knocked of the traditional pathway' for women in some way: a tragedy in their childhood, an unconventional childhood, or my favourite, the existence of 'crazy aunts' who bucked traditional society. All of the women in this book were knocked off the traditional pathway by one of these methods. It gives even further proof that leadership is a strongly gendered concept and for women to make it they have to leave their own traditions behind which leaves them to be seen as challenging to both men and women on their way to the top. A great book by two wonderful women. My favourite advice at the end for the media "whenever you write a story about a woman, replace her name with a man's name and see if you would still write it to check if you've used harmful stereotypes you wouldn't use for a man". Julie and Ngozi note that the case women in leadership is ultimately: " a moral one. In a democracy, a population should be a able to look at its leaders and see a reflection of the full diversity of society. What kind of democracy is it that bestows a vote but not a real prospect of becoming the person voted for?"

  13. 5 out of 5

    Ee Cheng Ooi

    This book is a rare opportunity to compare and contrast the life experiences of prominent women world leaders, with the analysis conducted by women who have also held the highest positions of power. It's an academic, qualitative approach but that doesn't mean it doesn't have it's own moments of charm and good humor. I enjoyed Julia's recollections of her time as PM in particular, as I remember the way she was treated and the stoic front she held up. How refreshing to see her speak bluntly about w This book is a rare opportunity to compare and contrast the life experiences of prominent women world leaders, with the analysis conducted by women who have also held the highest positions of power. It's an academic, qualitative approach but that doesn't mean it doesn't have it's own moments of charm and good humor. I enjoyed Julia's recollections of her time as PM in particular, as I remember the way she was treated and the stoic front she held up. How refreshing to see her speak bluntly about what we could all see - the deluge of misogynistic bullshit from other politicians and mass media. I'm not a strong proponent of any particular political party in Australia, but I liked Julia. I remember my father telling me in the car one day that she was unfit to be the prime minister. How could a woman be a leader? A better question is, who the hell says something like that to their own daughter? It's obvious that we still need books like these, and we still need analyses like these. We need leaders like these incredible women. The conclusions of this book suggest ways to deal with the situation, and encourages women to step up and take on the responsibility of power. Worth a read.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Gülsüm

    This is a much needed book for today's society where sexism permeates literally (LITERALLY and annoyingly) every aspect of living! The book offers an eye-opening perspective to the absurd and seemingly petty things women (and such accomplished female leaders) are subject to put up with in making their way through the world with dignity and integrity given the deep-seated gendered societal constructs. Quite a few things mentioned in the book reminded me of the following podcast which I highly rec This is a much needed book for today's society where sexism permeates literally (LITERALLY and annoyingly) every aspect of living! The book offers an eye-opening perspective to the absurd and seemingly petty things women (and such accomplished female leaders) are subject to put up with in making their way through the world with dignity and integrity given the deep-seated gendered societal constructs. Quite a few things mentioned in the book reminded me of the following podcast which I highly recommend: https://podcasts.apple.com/au/podcast.... Similar to the book, it touches on the likability of women as opposed to men in their assertiveness and the 'a bit of a bitch' hypothesis. In shedding light onto these issues, Soraya Chemaly in the podcast concludes that we must de-gender emotions and our way of associating assertiveness with men and frowning upon assertive (or aggressive or touchy or emotional or sensitive or thin-skinned according to societal standards) women because supposedly that's inorganic. And I could not agree more! I would have loved to see an exploration of intersectionality and, particularly, the ways in which sex intersects with other social identities. The authors, Julia and Ngozi, mention this briefly and highlight that this is an area the book does not delve into. So, I'd love to see more books unpacking this. As the authors hope, I, too, hope that one day, we find that we live in a world based on merit rather than any social categorisations or stereotypes. ('Find' implies that coincidentally a world as such would emerge and seems to discount the effort of all these female leaders in the book and out of the book so I think it'd be more fitting to say 'build'.) "We each hope that the youngest girls and boys in our families will inherit a world in which leaders are selected or elected based on fair evaluations of their wisdom and capacity." It certainly is a book I will come back to time and time again!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Ella Hart

    I absolutely loved this book! I loved learning about leadership and the experiences of women in high profile positions from the best in the business. Julia and Ngozi had incredibly different yet similar experiences in their roles and I was fascinated to hear about how being a woman impacted them. The best feature was them interviewing other leaders about the unique pressures they face. The research presented also shocked me but didn’t surprise me. It made me angry realising how many women turn d I absolutely loved this book! I loved learning about leadership and the experiences of women in high profile positions from the best in the business. Julia and Ngozi had incredibly different yet similar experiences in their roles and I was fascinated to hear about how being a woman impacted them. The best feature was them interviewing other leaders about the unique pressures they face. The research presented also shocked me but didn’t surprise me. It made me angry realising how many women turn down the idea of politics because of the unwelcoming environment. This book if anything, was a great discussion of how women entering leadership roles can be the only way to change systems that cast them out. Truly inspired!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Holstein

    Julia Gillard and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala present a well-written, research-backed set of hypotheses and actions around the theme of women leaders. I admit I didn't know much about women political leaders in Africa and South America prior to this book, and this was a great introduction to their achievements and experiences. While not claiming at all to solve the world's problems, Julia and Ngozi raise fantastic points for further thought and practical advice for aspiring leaders. "Sexism, shaming and Julia Gillard and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala present a well-written, research-backed set of hypotheses and actions around the theme of women leaders. I admit I didn't know much about women political leaders in Africa and South America prior to this book, and this was a great introduction to their achievements and experiences. While not claiming at all to solve the world's problems, Julia and Ngozi raise fantastic points for further thought and practical advice for aspiring leaders. "Sexism, shaming and silencing all exist, so plan your reaction to them now" is good advice given who holds political power in today's world.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jane

    This is a book that is worth reading for men and women, boys and girls. A short but succinct book. Each chapter packs a wealth of theories, evidence and anecdotes. The famous names listed drew me to the book but I came away with more than I bargained. Even if you are not interested in politics it leaves you with food for thought, and inspires an everyday person to think about and question gender inequality.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Sharon Taylor

    It was really interesting to hear the views and experiences of female leaders with respect to the questions that Julia and Ngozi posed in order to test their hypotheses about women and leadership. Some of the issues that women face as part of their professional roles are just so frustrating and unbelievable in this day and age. If these experiences can help to bring the issues to the fore and help to counter them, then that would be great.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jojo Kenn

    I loved this book! It’s written in an easy, conversational style, which I wasn’t expecting. It selves into their owns lives as well as the lives of those amazing women interviewed. A must read for everyone.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Kelly Chase

    So important!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jaclyn (sixminutesforme)

    I put this one aside at around 70% mark—I think it’s an interesting text in examining leadership styles and paths to leadership of several current female world leaders from several countries. I particularly found myself interested in comments made by Ardern and the political climate in NZ, including her responses to both things she has faced as a leader in NZ but also whether politics is even an arena she would have entered if the climate in NZ was anything like how women in Australian politics I put this one aside at around 70% mark—I think it’s an interesting text in examining leadership styles and paths to leadership of several current female world leaders from several countries. I particularly found myself interested in comments made by Ardern and the political climate in NZ, including her responses to both things she has faced as a leader in NZ but also whether politics is even an arena she would have entered if the climate in NZ was anything like how women in Australian politics are treated. An interesting premise for a collaborative work, I just found myself struggling to engage (probably more about when I’m reading this, in lead up to US election and amidst global pandemic!!) than a slant against the book itself, so don’t let me deter you!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Julia

    It’s easy to associate the recent political climate with feelings of incompetence and despair. Regardless of your partisanship, it’s difficult to ignore the sense of urgency that global issues such as climate change, refugee protection and escalating economic and health crises are pressing on the world’s citizens. Politicians usually cop the brunt of harsh judgements targeted at them when they try to problem solve. And to some extent, these harsh judgements are necessary for holding them to acco It’s easy to associate the recent political climate with feelings of incompetence and despair. Regardless of your partisanship, it’s difficult to ignore the sense of urgency that global issues such as climate change, refugee protection and escalating economic and health crises are pressing on the world’s citizens. Politicians usually cop the brunt of harsh judgements targeted at them when they try to problem solve. And to some extent, these harsh judgements are necessary for holding them to account, particularly when so much is at stake. But it’s also true that when we judge, we have a responsibility to do so fairly and unbiasedly. This is obviously easier said than done, particularly in a climate where the stories and news we are exposed to, or even choose to engage with, are often heavily skewed. Therefore, we must interrogate and be aware of these biases if we are to make better sense of the world’s predicaments and how it can be a more equitable place for all. Enter Julia Gillard and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala’s ‘Women and Leadership.’ In it, the formidable authors examine perceptions of female leadership from around the world, as well as how women leaders have considered their gender to influence the sorts of leaders they have become. Their book is grounded in research and interviews conducted with eight prominent women leaders from around the world, both current (i.e. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf!) and formerly (i.e. Hillary Clinton!) serving, inviting them to comment on the ways in which their gender has influenced their capacity to do their jobs well. But do not fear. Whilst this all sounds like it could be a dense and overwhelming undertaking, the conversational style in which the book is written, together with the helpfully segmented chapters, make it feel as though you’re simply catching up with some much-admired friends who happen to hold (or have previously held) some of the most powerful global leadership positions. It seems redundant to list all of the women who feature in the book here since you can simply refer to the book’s cover, but I will say that I was particularly excited to hear from Jacinda Adern, as well as to learn from other trailblazing women from around the world who I previously knew little about. Nevertheless, the sense of ease emanating from the book’s written style doesn’t detract from the sobering data it offers to its readers. For example, it concludes that judgements about women will still be heavily influenced by their appearance compared with how men are judged. It surmises that women leaders do need to self-limit their behaviour more so than their male counterparts to strike the right balance between likeability and authority. And women leaders who make mistakes are more likely to be judged harshly than men. None of this is particularly surprising for those who engage with feminist literature, but to hear anecdotes directly from those who have experienced these forms of discrimination does make you realise just how far society still has to go when it comes to achieving gender equality. In saying that, ‘Women and Leadership’ also acknowledges that gender affects these women leaders in different ways, with some even admitting that they haven’t felt it inhibit their opportunities in particular contexts. Hence, there’s not a sense that the book is simply setting out to prove its own hypotheses, but that it is trying to untangle and provide nuance to the experiences of women leaders. Pleasingly, it also acknowledges its own limitations and the fact that more work needs to be done to understand how other forms of discrimination intersect with those relating to sex. Finally, as an unashamed fan of Gillard’s, I was also elated to read her blatantly calling out the sexism and misogyny she faced as Prime Minister, particularly as previous publications of hers, such as her memoir ‘My Story’, felt like a sanitised depiction of the frustrations and injustices she must have experienced. Despite this being a co-written book, it nevertheless feels like Gillard has finally found her voice when she reflects on her own, individual experiences as the first female Prime Minister of Australia: one that is confident to call out and combat gender biases that herself and others have encountered. And with that, books like ‘Women and Leadership’ will hopefully give permission for others to call out and combat the gender biases that they may experience so that we can help shape a fairer and more equitable world for future generations.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Amy Ursula

    I loved reading about each individual's leadership stories! The organisation of the chapters was great, but I didn't find every one of them wholly captivating. As soon as I started alternating this book with another I found it easier to digest. I think that Julia & Ngozi have done an incredible job gathering data & opinions, and feel this will be a very useful read for women hoping to enter into the political arena! I certainly learnt something from it & enjoyed lots of side research into the the I loved reading about each individual's leadership stories! The organisation of the chapters was great, but I didn't find every one of them wholly captivating. As soon as I started alternating this book with another I found it easier to digest. I think that Julia & Ngozi have done an incredible job gathering data & opinions, and feel this will be a very useful read for women hoping to enter into the political arena! I certainly learnt something from it & enjoyed lots of side research into the themes & events they mentioned!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Yara Alzahid

    Very insightful and inspiring! Thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. The lessons discussed truly resonated with me. Although the stories told in this book mainly focus on women politicians, the lessons learnt are transferable to any women who aspires to be a leader in any sector. This book can also be of vital importance to men so they can understand gender inequality, especially in leadership roles.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Kristine Tracey

    Research and anecdotal evidence on a range of subjects pertaining to the plight of female leaders from a range of countries and situations provides the reader with hope for the leaders of the future. Readable, relatable and insightful.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Freya

    Regardless of whether you agree with the politics of the women featured in this book, this is an outstanding read. At once challenging and inspiring, this is meticulously researched but is still conveyed in a very authentic way.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Ita

    Interesting insight in women leaders in politics, useful for women in business as well. Some leaders changed their behaviour to get to the top but not New Zealand's Jacinda Ardern, she just stayed her awesome self. I feel the need to read her biography next. Interesting insight in women leaders in politics, useful for women in business as well. Some leaders changed their behaviour to get to the top but not New Zealand's Jacinda Ardern, she just stayed her awesome self. I feel the need to read her biography next.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Sam

    The audiobook was not great - I would have preferred it had been read by the authors. The content is interesting.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Mira

    A perfect fit in the ‘For Children’ section, I thoroughly recommend passing it along to any older child/young teen of your acquaintance. The writing style is sufficiently simple (without being condescending) and subject matter engaging and vital, regardless of personal interest in politics. A composed and sympathetic compilation of powerful women’s experiences from numerous cultural and educational backgrounds, this is not a hefty academic text but provides an exploration of what women leaders c A perfect fit in the ‘For Children’ section, I thoroughly recommend passing it along to any older child/young teen of your acquaintance. The writing style is sufficiently simple (without being condescending) and subject matter engaging and vital, regardless of personal interest in politics. A composed and sympathetic compilation of powerful women’s experiences from numerous cultural and educational backgrounds, this is not a hefty academic text but provides an exploration of what women leaders can expect in political and media-heavy settings. The bibliography was once again a selling point for me (always cite your sources, people!), as were the numerous references to women’s organisations and academic institutions around the world, which I will now promptly research. With chapter titles such as ‘All about the hair’ and ‘She’s a bit of a bitch’, this drives home numerous points concerning the very precarious position women hold on the world’s stage, and how easily a tide can turn against a woman when she does not adhere to the traditional roles and behavioural patterns society sets out for her. Gillard and Okonjo-Iweala do not gloss over the witch hunts-but at least they remind us that none of us are alone to bear them, and with sufficient effort and growth, they may eventually become a thing of the past.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Tiana Sixsmith

    It took me a while to come back to this and review it, despite finishing it at the start of this month. My reasoning was that I wanted to see how it impacted me over the following weeks and whether I felt anything shift. The thing is, I think that everything shifted. There were so many elements to this story that I constantly found myself coming back to. The way women are portrayed in the media, the way we continually focus on clothing and looks over policy and merit, the way a woman who has chi It took me a while to come back to this and review it, despite finishing it at the start of this month. My reasoning was that I wanted to see how it impacted me over the following weeks and whether I felt anything shift. The thing is, I think that everything shifted. There were so many elements to this story that I constantly found myself coming back to. The way women are portrayed in the media, the way we continually focus on clothing and looks over policy and merit, the way a woman who has children whilst working is viewed unfavourably whilst a woman who chooses not to have children is also viewed unfavourably. It's almost as if, shock horror, the political system is one built by and for men. This is the sort of book that you read and can't stop thinking about. All I could think about was how systemic the gender inequity of the workforce is and how much I wished I could change that. 10/10 would recommend.

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