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5 books for summer reading

Page-turners written by women changing the world for women who want to do it too.

Hey there, I’m Kathy

Some people read light-hearted fiction over the summer.

That’s never been me.

Even on holidays, when I have a glass of champagne in my hand, when I’m watching Theodore have fun in the pool and have nowhere else to be, I still pick up books on business strategy and marketing. To change it up, I also pick up books written by women about being a woman.

I do it because I believe in gender equality, the power of women supporting each other, and the gold mine we uncover when we do.

Want to speed-read alongside me (and fabulous women) this year? Here’s what I’m planning to read (or re-read) this summer.


Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men

– Caroline Criado Perez

Kate Young, ANZ’s Senior Manager of Customer Centricity & Capability, told me about this book after she’d read it herself. It’s a fascinating, somber and important read.

In the book, Criado Perez points out various ways the world has been designed for the male physique — from the size of piano keyboards to iPhone screens. She goes on, in each instance, to highlight the impact this has on women.

For example, even though men are more likely to be involved in a car crash, women are 47% more likely to be seriously injured and 17% more likely to die. How come?

Studies have shown that women, on average, sit further forward when driving, have fewer neck muscles and weigh less.

When crash test dummies were introduced in the 1950s (and cars designed around them), they were based around the fifth percentile male (a.k.a. a 1.77m tall and 76kg individual).

This means that most women are “out of position” drivers from the moment they turn on the ignition. At 1.70m and 50kgs, I know I sure am.

I’m of the view that all business owners, including thought leaders, have a responsibility to make sure the data they capture and cite should be bias-free.

Not Just Lucky

– Jamila Rizvi

I first heard about Rizvi when I read The Anti-Cool Girl by Rosie Waterland. Waterland speaks about Rizvi ― one of her BFFs and ex-Mamamia colleague.

I haven’t read this one on its entirety yet, but I bought it because it promises to help women fight for teir own success and for a more inclusive, equal workplace for all.

It covers double standards, confidence dressing, and coping with setbacks.

In early chapter, Rizvi cites the research Geena Davis has done on male versus female representation in movies.

For example, judges and lawyer characters are 13 times more likely to be men. 

I strongly subscribe to the notion that you can’t be what you can’t see. Even if I’d never be a lawyer (because I love my current job so much), I still want the women and girls around me to choose it, if it’s for them.

She Speaks

– Yvette Cooper

Named a Guardian Bookk of the Year, She Speaks is a compilation of speeches,  deliverd b women from around the world.

I was particularly drawn to Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez’s “Today I Rise” delivered in January 2019 to the US Congress. I love it not only for its message but for AOC’s use of storytelling.

I’ve dog-eared Manal Al-Sharif’s “Driving for Freedom” and often found myself returning to it when I’m in need of a pep talk. And because Manal (Mia) has always been such an incredibly kind and generous friend to me.

The copy of the book I possess is extra special because my friend and ex-colleague from The Cancer Council NSW, Helen Dudgeon, sent it to me from Wales when I was undergoing cancer treatment. It sure did spur me on. 

Why Smart Women Make Bad Decisions: And How Critical Thinking Can  Protect Them 

– Annie McCubbin

It’s taken me a long time to wear the ‘smart woman’ label.

Historically, I’ve not just shield away from it, but I’ve outright rejected it it.

Instead of seeing my intelligence as a strength, I saw it as something that should be downplayed so as to fit in and make life more comfortable for those around me.

As a result, this book was confronting. I found myself on almost every page.

“Watch out for making decisions based on ensuring you will be approved or liked. You will never be universally liked, and that’s okay” is a particularly important one for me.

This book is particularly joyous because the science she shares is shrouded in humorous storytelling, making it a page-turner and highly memorable.

Women Changing the World 

Edited by: Peace Mitchell & Katy Garner

I met Peace and Katy in Lisbon, Portugal, and instantly fell in love with the duo. They are the sisters behind the AusMumpreneur Awards and The Women’s Business School. 

In their latest anthology, Australian women share their stories and advice to inspire women to follow their calling, believe in themselves, and do their part to change the world in big and small ways.

The women featured in their book are as inspirational as they are empowering.