Summer Reading for your Career – Book Reviews

Book Fatherhood Reclaimed: The Making of the Modern Father, was recommended to me from a man speaking on the importance of the changing workplace to adapt to the needs of parents, at the platform at a European Professional Women’s Network event.  His point, one I could not agree with more, was that too often “flexible working” and “work/life balance” is viewed as a woman’s issue – which can unfortunately undermine its value to society as a whole. This book by Adrienne Burgess, starts by addressing the way modern men have been categorised into one of two roles – as the feckless helpmate, who has good intentions but is useless at childrearing or the abusive and/or absent father. Unravelling the history behind fatherhood as well as the way society treats fathers has been invaluable to me – as an author and coach who specialises in working with professional women. It highlights the fact that the way we treat men today is an artificial construct that can be as limiting as earlier constructs for women as “happy home-maker” or “career bitch” – this books goes a long way to illustrating that we need to come up with more nuanced ways of thinking of working fathers – much as we are doing for working mothers. Standing at the Crossroads: Next Steps for High Achieving Women is a not so recent read but one of my bibles when I was doing my PhD on successful women in male dominated fields – but don’t let that put you off. While it is written with the credibility of academics – it is a very approachable read that addresses the wide range of issues faced by high-performing women including the need to act authentically, make connections, control one’s destiny, achieve wholeness and gain self-clarity. The piece on living authentically is particularly interesting to me as too often I work with women who have historically achieved promotion after promotion – but don’t question the value to them of the journey – only to find that it feels empty once they get there because they have “sold out” on too many of their values. This book also explores age groups as well, and charts the evolution of women’s careers and their priorities as time passes – moving for example, from a “can-do-it-all” attitude in their late 20’s to a “wanting to give back” in their 50’s. Indeed these are themes I see in my work with professional women, and this book was one of the forerunners in addressing what it means to be high-achieving and female in the Western workplace.

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