Saturday, August 25, 2018

How to Be Successful without Hurting Men's Feelings: Non-threatening Leadership Strategies for Women by Sarah Cooper

Fun fact: the ink for this book was made from male tears.

I applied for this book on a whim because I think breaking the glass ceiling is still a challenge that many professional and professional-aspiring women face in the workplace, particularly in the fields of science and tech. And yes, I realize that some workplaces are the exceptions. Some do an exceptional job incorporating diversity and acceptance into their corporate culture and making everyone feel welcome, regardless of sex, gender, ethnicity and creed, and those places should be lauded - deservedly so. However, for every place that's doing it right, there are even more places doing it wrong, and virtually every woman I know has at least one horror story of harassment, gaslighting, or even just under-appreciation in at least one of their jobs by sheer dint of being female.

HOW TO BE SUCCESSFUL WITHOUT HURTING MEN'S FEELINGS satirizes the sexist old guard corporate culture (think Mad Men) of places where all of those in charge are white dudes, and women and minorities are treated as interlopers who are threatening the sanctity of their Boys' Club. Some of my favorite sections in this book were Gaslighting 101, "blank pages to doodle on while men explain things to you," and Being Liked vs. Being Successful. There's also a great comic in here that someone in my professional circle shared with me about how differently people view men vs. women when they say the same exact thing. It's amazing, really, how quick we are to label women as aggressive or bitchy for just doing their damn job and saying it without a smile or an emoji.

If you are a feminist who is frustrated with archaic gender roles and norms, or you've had a job where you didn't feel welcome and are still seething at the injustice, I think this will be a good book for you. I liked how the author identified the sexist problems while also making fun of office culture as a whole, as in The Office, and the email bingo was hilariously on point. The lighter moments balanced out the darker sections, such as the one on workplace sexual harassment, which made me very sad and uncomfortable. I feel very lucky in that all of the places I have worked have been very good to me, but this also makes me sad because feeling safe and secure where you work should not be a matter of luck and there are so many people who seem to think that just because inequality and harassment don't happen to them, personally, means that nobody anywhere is experiencing it, which is not the case. I'm glad that books like these are coming out to push equality and call out toxic behavior. Awareness and recognition are just the first steps when it comes to social change.

Thanks to Netgalley/the publisher for the review copy!

3.5 out of 5 stars

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