2019 Update: We still recommend ALL these articles! We’re working on a revised version — what articles from recent years are you still thinking about?
What are your favorite articles for working women? What has stayed with you, or shaped the way you think about your career? I always wish that I read more books, but if we’re being honest it’s mostly articles that stay with me. We round up some relevant ones every week and have had a big discussion here or there, but I don’t think we’ve ever rounded up a good list of some great articles that all working women should read. (We did have a very similar discussion over at CorporetteMoms last week about great articles for working mothers — there is some overlap but not a ton.)
These are the ones that I think about regularly from the past — what has stayed with you guys?
Helpful Career Advice Articles for Women I Think About All The Time:
- I liked this article from the WSJ about image consultants for executives, both men and women. If you’re a young woman asking yourself (or beating yourself up) about why you’re just not as smooth and polished as your bosses, this is a great read (and it’s great to know that the option exists).
- Working Mother had a great article delineating the differences between common programs companies institute to help women advance — a great way to educate yourself if you want to advocate for such a program at your company. The list includes mentoring, career counseling, sponsorship, affinity groups, leadership training, executive coaching, high potential lists, and job rotation.
- Another great article from Working Mother advised young women to be in the “business of business” if you want to get ahead — i.e., be in a P&L role, not in marketing or human resources or the like.
- I read a great profile on Sheryl Sandberg from Ken Auletta in The New Yorker — nowadays her book Lean In is legendary, and her original TED talk is a great place to start if you haven’t seen it. Her Makers video about how she leaves work at 5:30 every day is also kind of a classic. (We talked about the piece of advice “don’t leave until you leave” here.)
- If leaning in is too much, here are two great articles I think about: One successful woman advised people to recline, while a Harvard professor shared some thoughts about how she balanced her life with two young kids during her seven-year tenure track postdoc.
- Old article, but helpful if you’ve ever dreamed of becoming a founder of a startup: The founder of Y-Combinator (whose background is a BA in English!) shared her thoughts about what holds women founders back.
Depressing Career Articles for Women I Think About All the Time:
- Seriously, everyone needs to read this article: The NYT reported on a gender equity study that found that special steps were needed at Harvard Business School (!!!) in 2011 (!!!) to level the playing field for women. I kind of think it goes hand in hand with the other recent NYT article on Great Expectations, following up with female lawyers from Debevoise who they had interviewed first in 2001 — so many of the women had originally said they could get ahead if they chose to — and women later said, no, it was harder than they’d thought.
- The Atlantic has a depressing but fascinating look at the work/life juggle from Anne-Marie Slaughter, a former director of policy planning for the State Department — with the sobering realization that sometimes the older years are the most complicated time of juggle.
- The Atlantic’s excerpt of the Confidence Gap is a good one. (We discussed it here.)
- Wow, this controversial post from Penelope Trunk stirred up so much… controversy … back in 2011, so do please put your “I’m not going to take this too seriously” hat on before clicking, but: She has some interesting thoughts about how women can advance their careers by things like getting plastic surgery. Along similar lines: The original advice from Princeton Mom to find a husband before you graduate school. (I also still remember her advice to single New Yorkers).
- I remember a ton of random, revealing comments from men in response to various articles on working women, none of which I can find now — for example, there was one we had here from a male partner who advised summer associates to choose whether they wanted to be A or B: the summer you wanted to have an affair with, or the summer you wanted to work with (because in his mind there was no overlap between the two). It’s hard to collect them, but this article from Vivia Chen at The Careerist sums up a lot of the general idea. She had sneered at a suggestion that men didn’t want to mentor younger women because the fear of sexual impropriety was too great — and then heard from many men that yeah, that was exactly correct.
- Along those lines: Wired looked at the gender gap in tech, with some truly ugly stories from female founders about some “expectations” investors had. Joy.
- Above the Law has had some doozies over the years: Duke Law School’s guide to dressing professionally, Clifford Chance’s guide to dressing professionally (“Don’t talk like Marilyn Monroe”)… so many good ones. Oh, and this post about one judge who reprimanded lawyers for showing elbow. Scandalous!
- Finally: These NYT articles on the Opt-Out Revolution (women dropping out of the workplace to be with their kids) and their followup in 2013 were fascinating.
Work Fashion Posts I Think About All The Time:
- I think about this article all the time and have even mentioned it to numerous reporters: This great WSJ piece looks at the women actually purchasing runway clothing, priced five figures and up — including a 26-year-old public defender who wore Balmain to court.
- USA Today had a great article on business casual (which was the basis for our post on what not to wear to work).
- Excellent post on Jezebel from a young woman who was tired of hearing people tell her to not “dress up” for work all the time.
- A woman alleged that Citibank fired her for dressing suggestively; The Village Voice had a whole photo shoot asking, “Is This Woman Too Hot to be a Banker?”
- Great flow chart from Buzzfeed — still helpful years later! — that asks the important question: Am I wearing pants?
- Two related articles that I think about all the time: Angie at You Look Fab‘s article on why she prefers an almost all-black outfit to an all-black outfit, and Sally at Already Pretty‘s post on wearing black with intention. (As a New Yorker for most of my adult life I must admit, I’m still A-OK with throwing on an all-black outfit, but that’s me.)
Funny Posts for Working Women I Think About Often:
- I mentioned the am-I-wearing pants flowchart from Buzzfeed above, but this comic on bitchface is also pretty great.
- Also from Buzzfeed: 26 things Hilary Clinton thinks about you.
- Time magazine looked at some hilarious stock photos of working women.
- Finally: This video is funny enough that I think of it often, but as I’ve mentioned before I find it frustrating: Bitch in Business, by Columbia B-School Follies.
Ladies, what are your thoughts on your favorite articles for working women (helpful, depressing, funny, whatever) that you’ve read over the years? Which ones have stayed with you; which ones have caused you to change something about yourself (be it your thinking, dress, whatever)? (If anyone has any Corporette posts — or comments — that have stuck with you I would LOVE to hear which.)
N.B. These substantive posts are intended to be a source of community comment on a particular topic, which readers can browse through without having to sift out a lot of unrelated comments. And so, although of course we highly value all comments by our readers, we’re going to ask you to please keep your comments on topic; threadjacks will be deleted at our sole discretion and convenience. Thank you for your understanding!