17 Best Business Books by Women to Read in 2021

Home » Books » Business Books by WomenUpdated: September 16, 2021

You found our list of inspiring business books by women.

Business books by women are career guides written by and for women in the workplace. These works cover topics such as gender discrimination, work-life balance, and self-advocacy. The purpose of these books is to give women the skills, knowledge, and confidence needed to thrive in the business world.

These works are a subset of business books and are similar to female books on leadership and business biographies.

This collection includes:

  • feminist business books
  • female CEO books
  • books for female founders
  • books for female entrepreneurs
  • business books for women of color

Here is the list!

List of business books by women

From bestsellers to new releases, here is a list of business books by women authors that offer perspective and empower female professionals.

1. Drop the Ball: Achieving More by Doing Less by Tiffany Dufu

Drop The Ball book cover

Drop the Ball is a masterclass in work-life balance. Many women struggle to juggle families, work, and outside obligations while aiming to “have it all.” Tiffany Dufu gives women permission to stop striving to excel in every area, cease trying to please everyone, and focus on a narrower set of goals. As the title suggests, the author implies that by doing less, women can be more productive, effective, and successful. The book encourages readers to embrace imperfection and prioritize the most important objectives rather than trying to do everything and be the best at everything. Drop the Ball is a recipe for living a less hectic, more fulfilled life.

Notable Quote: “Just because you’re better at doing something doesn’t mean you doing it is the most productive use of your time.”

Buy Drop the Ball.

2. How to Change: The Science of Getting from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be by Katy Milkman

How To Change book cover

How to Change is one of the best new employee development books. Wharton professor Katy Milkman examines the science behind behavior shift and outlines the optimal conditions for making lasting transformations. The book draws on research and case studies to show how timing and temptation can affect the results of efforts to change. Chapters cover topics such as procrastination, confidence, and impulsivity, and help readers better understand the psychology behind forming new habits and making a permanent switch. True to its name, How to Change is an actionable guide for self-growth and evolution.

Notable Quote: “We’re more likely to pursue change on dates that feel like new beginnings because these moments help us overcome a common obstacle to goal initiation: the sense that we’ve failed before and will, thus, fail again.”

Buy How to Change.

3. Shark Tales: How I Turned $1,000 into a Billion Dollar Business by Barbara Corcoran

Shark Tales book cover

Shark Tales is a half-memoir, half-self-help book written by “Shark Tank” judge and accomplished entrepreneur Barbara Corcoran. The book traces the tale of Corcoran’s rise from humble beginnings to real estate empiredom and reality TV stardom, sharing learnings gained along the way. Corcoran offers practical advice for starting and growing a company and dominating hyper competitive business environments. The tone of the book is encouraging yet no-nonsense, as Cocoroan imparts lessons like “if you want to get noticed, write your name on the wall,” and “expand before you’re ready.” Shark Tales contains valuable guidance for aspiring entrepreneurs of any gender.

Notable Quote: “Taking chances almost always makes for happy endings.”

Buy Shark Tales.

4. Radical Candor (Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity) by Kim Scott

Radical Candor

Radical Candor is a rulebook for leading with a blend of honesty and empathy. The book lays out management tips for being tough and forthright and having high standards, yet still honoring and respecting employees. This work provides a blueprint for giving effective feedback while maintaining positive relationships with staff. Radical Candor explains how to be assertive, honest, and more effective at work and beyond, and gives tips for being a good boss.

Notable Quote: “Make sure that you are seeing each person on your team with fresh eyes every day. People evolve, and so your relationships must evolve with them. Care personally; don’t put people in boxes and leave them there.”

Buy Radical Candor, and check out more HR books

5. Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder by Arianna Huffington

Thrive book cover

Thrive is one of the most popular female CEO books. In this ode to the act of mindfulness, Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington advocates for a measure of professional accomplishment beyond money and power. The book describes a third metric of success rooted in a sense of fulfillment, wonder, and compassion. Huffington advocates for self-care, self-awareness, and striving for a sense of balance vs burnout. Thrive is a manifesto for the current work world that resonates with the desires of the modern workforce, particularly overburdened professional women attempting to “have it all.”

Notable Quote: “We think, mistakenly, that success is the result of the amount of time we put in at work, instead of the quality of time we put in.”

Buy Thrive.

6. Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person by by Shonda Rhimes

Year Of Yes book cover

Year of Yes is a woman business memoir by powerhouse entertainment producer Shonda Rhimes. The book chronicles a year when Rhimes decided to seize more opportunities by saying “yes” more often. The resulting story is a lesson in growth and life beyond the comfort zone. By agreeing to participate in activities that scared her, such as speaking engagements, or behaviors she denied herself, like playing with her children, Rhimes became bolder and found deeper satisfaction. Year of Yes is a companion to the producer’s engaging TED Talk, and also gives background on Rhimes’ life journey to become a celebrated media creator.

Notable Quote: “Dreams are lovely. But they are just dreams. Fleeting, ephemeral. Pretty. But dreams do not come true just because you dream them. It’s hard work that makes things happen. It’s hard work that creates change.”

Buy Year of Yes.

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

Invisible Women book cover

Invisible Women is one of the best feminist business books. Many professionals assume that data is objective, however Caroline Criado Perez argues that surveys and averages can also be skewed because the baseline data tends to favor the white male demographic. Invisible Women provides a deep dive into the world of data and suggests ways that practitioners can make statistics more representative and inclusive of underrepresented voices.

Notable Quote: “The presumption that what is male is universal is a direct consequence of the gender data gap. Whiteness and maleness can only go without saying because most other identities never get said at all.”

Buy Invisible Women.

8. The Making of a Manager: What to Do When Everyone Looks to You by Julie Zhuo

The Making of a Manager

The Making of a Manager is a practical handbook for first time leaders. The book outlines common missteps of young managers and lays out tactics for guiding teams more effectively when lacking in experience. Wanting to be seen as competent and respected by bosses and reports, first time managers, women especially, tend to struggle to ask for help. This book answers the questions unseasoned leaders are often afraid to ask. Chapters explore topics such as giving feedback, holding meetings, hiring, and nurturing company culture. The Making of a Manager the ultimate instruction manual for transitioning from an employee into a leader.

Notable Quote: “Your role as a manager is not to do the work yourself, even if you are the best at it, because that will only take you so far. Your role is to improve the purpose, people, and process of your team to get as high a multiplier effect on your collective outcome as you can.”

Buy The Making of a Manager, and check out more books on management.

9. Digital Body Language: How to Build Trust and Connection, No Matter the Distance by Erica Dhawan

Digital Body Language book cover

Digital Body Language is one of the business books by women most relevant to the age of remote work. The book explains how to build trust remotely by using effective communication skills and practicing proper virtual meeting etiquette. The guide explores how to avoid miscommunication in digital messages, read body language over Zoom, and be present and responsive while working remotely. Digital Body Language is a handbook for virtual office behavior and work from home team building.

Notable Quote: “What does good digital body language look like in action? It means never assuming that our own digital habits (e.g., answering every email we get within 30 seconds, or never listening to our voicemails) are shared by everybody else. It means taking a few extra seconds to ask ourselves whether our sentences, words, or even punctuation might be misinterpreted. It means being hyperconscious of the signals and cues we send out, constantly checking in with ourselves, and learning along the way.”

Buy Digital Body Language.

10. The Culture Map: Breaking Through the Invisible Boundaries of Global Business by Erin Meyer

The Culture Map book cover

The Culture Map is full of team building tips for groups composed of members of varying nationalities. The book explores cultural norms and differences in behaviors between countries. Chapters examine different nationalities’ attitudes and approaches to listening, showing respect, and making decisions. The author presents models for avoiding misunderstandings and conflicts achieving workplace harmony between contrasting cultures. The book contains research-backed observations and case studies that illustrate the points in understandable ways. The Culture Map is an instruction manual for developing global teams.

Notable Quote: “Trust is like insurance—it’s an investment you need to make up front, before the need arises.”

Buy The Culture Map.

11. 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do: Take Back Your Power, Embrace Change, Face Your Fears, and Train Your Brain for Happiness and Success by Amy Morin

13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do book cover

13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do is one of the most helpful books for female entrepreneurs. This book teaches readers how to develop the toughness and mental resilience needed to ride out the challenges of running a business. Amy Morin exposes self-defeating behaviors such as self-pity, resistance to change, rumination on the past, and obsessing about factors beyond control. Each chapter focuses on an unhelpful habit and offers up alternative behaviors and advice for how to change. 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do is a guidebook for taking personal accountability, building mental strength, and positioning yourself for success.

Notable Quote: “Learning from each mistake requires self-awareness and humility, but it can be one of the biggest keys to reaching your full potential.”

Buy 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do, and check out more books on entrepreneurship.

12. The Manager’s Path: A Guide for Tech Leaders Navigating Growth and Change by Camille Fournier

 

The Manager's Path book coverThe Manager’s Path is a textbook for managing within the tech industry. This guide eases the transition from technical employee to technical manager by offering advice and techniques to lead engineers and other tech professionals. The book explores topics like mentorship, improving culture, and balancing individual coaching with team management. The Manager’s Path is a practical guidebook for logical leaders looking to upskill quickly.

Notable Quote: “Good managers know that delivering feedback quickly is more valuable than waiting for a convenient time to say something.”

Buy The Manager’s Path, and check out more leadership books.

13. The 5 Second Rule: Transform your Life, Work, and Confidence with Everyday Courage by Mel Robbins

The 5 Second Rule book cover

The 5 Second Rule is a self-help book that teaches readers how to defeat procrastination and become more self-assured. The book lays out a formula for boldness and productivity that centers around counting backwards from 5 and then immediately launching into action. This simple trick can be an effective method for pushing yourself, as Robbins demonstrates through anecdotes and examples. This book is an expansion of the author’s popular TED Talk “How to stop screwing yourself over.” The 5 Second Rule is a masterclass in motivation, resilience, and facing down challenges.

Notable Quote: “Start before you’re ready. Don’t prepare, begin.”

Buy The 5 Second Rule.

14. Trust Yourself: Stop Overthinking and Channel Your Emotions for Success at Work by Melody Wilding LMSW

Trust Yourself book cover

Trust Yourself is a tutorial in overcoming emotions and finding inner strength. The target audience for this work is sensitive individuals. While common societal wisdom often insists that the highly sensitive do not fare well in the business world, this book asserts that these gifted individuals can thrive professionally when that empathetic energy is channeled productively. Chapters lay out techniques for building self-awareness, establishing boundaries, ceasing worry, and listening to instinct. Trust Yourself is a lesson in self-confidence and clearer thinking.

Notable Quote: “Sensitive, ambitious people are often so worried about what others think and so influenced by common definitions of success that they don’t know how to direct their energy toward what they really want– a fulfilling life coupled with a sense of confidence and control.”

Buy Trust Yourself.

15. Unapologetically Ambitious: Take Risks, Break Barriers, and Create Success on Your Own Terms by Shellye Archambeau

Unapologetically Ambitious book cover

Unapologetically Ambitious is one of the most useful books for female founders and leaders. This guide shows women how to exceed expectations and unashamedly chase success. The book covers concepts such as defeating imposter syndrome, managing reputation, finding ways to work around limits, and building strong networks and support systems. Unapologetically Ambitious is a toolkit for women who seek to overturn the status quo, take control of their careers, and ascend to heights previously thought unreachable.

Notable Quote: “Unchecked imposter syndrome can severely undermine your aspirations. If you don’t truly believe in yourself, it’s hard to push yourself to take the calculated risks necessary to reach your goals. You might spend a lifetime building all the skills and knowledge you need to succeed, but never gain the confidence to apply them.”

Buy Unapologetically Ambitious.

16. The Memo: What Women of Color Need to Know to Secure a Seat at the Table by Minda Harts

The Memo book cover

The Memo is one of the best business books for women of color. Consultant and speaker Minda Harts addresses the unique challenges women of color face in the corporate world and offers practical, customized career advice for members of these underrepresented groups. The book illuminates the barriers that often prevent non-white women from rising to leadership position or high-ranking roles. The author shares strategies and tips for overcoming these obstacles and gaining influence and power in resistant environments. The Memo acts as a playbook for ambitious women of color, as well as a guide for allies looking to better support colleagues and build fairer work environments.

Notable Quote: “We need to be on the front lines of our own issues.”

Buy The Memo.

17. Brotopia: Breaking Up the Boys’ Club of Silicon Valley by Emily Chang

Brotopia book cover

Brotopia is an exposé on gender inequality in Silicon Valley. Bloomberg journalist Emily Chang interviews female founders, CEO’s, and engineers and retells tales of discrimination, sexism, and toxic environments within the male-dominated tech industry. The book explores topics such as exclusion, harassment, and the consequences of speaking out and standing up for oneself and other women. Brotopia presents a harrowing look at the injustices that occur within one of the world’s richest industries and shows how far society still has to go to achieve workplace equality between women and men.

Notable Quote: “By lionizing the idea of meritocracy, Silicon Valley can deny that the lack of diversity is a problem”

Buy Brotopia.

Final Thoughts

Business books written by women address and explore the unique challenges females face in the corporate world. These works can give employees of all genders lesser-heard perspectives, and can help to fight inequality in the workplace. These books can empower women to take control of their careers and aspire to be more than society’s expectations. However, not all business books by women speak exclusively to the female experience. There are many great guides about business topics that happen to be written by women. Considering that at least half of the world’s population is female, these perspectives are important and worth reading.

Next, check out this list of career books, our list of ideas for virtual Womens’ Day, and these inspiring quotes by women.

We also have a list of books for small businesses and books for nonprofits.

FAQ: Business books by women

Here are answers to common questions about business books by women.

What are business books by women?

Business books by women are nonfiction works that deal with professional topics such as management, career development, and communication. Often, these guides speak to the unique experiences of being a woman in the workforce. However, sometimes these books simply provide actionable general business advice from women experts.

What are some good business books by women?

Some good business books by women include Thrive by Arianna Huffington, The Culture Map by Erin Meyer, The Manager’s Path by Camille Fournier, and 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do by Amy Morin.

Why should you read business books by female authors?

You should read business books by female authors because these works present the perspectives of women in the workforce. These expert entrepreneurs can offer women role models and actionable advice. Also, it is important for all members of the work world to be aware of these experiences and ideas to better cooperate and build a more inclusive workplace.

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Author: Angela Robinson

Team building content expert. Angela has a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and worked as a community manager with Yelp to plan events for businesses.

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