Women’s Work

Find some new books, fiction and nonfiction, about all the types of work that women have done through the centuries and now!

American short story writer and novelist Fannie Hurst once said, “A woman has to be twice as good as a man to go half as far.” Hurst, although not well known today, was a prolific writer during the first half of the twentieth century, who understood the hardship and disadvantages women faced at that time, and used her voice to focus on the lives of working women in her writing. Despite great strides made over the years, women still wrestle with many of the same issues she wrote about, and some might argue that these issues are most apparent in a woman’s struggle to find equality in the workplace. Please enjoy the following fiction and non-fiction titles that have women and the work they do at their center.

Digital book (DB, DBC), braille (BR), and large print (LT) copies of these titles are available from the Perkins Library or the Worcester Talking Book Library. Please contact the library to order any of these books.

Prepared by Nancy Gahagan

Recording Studio Manager

Perkins Library

The Assistants

by Camille Perri

DB 84350, LT 20677, Available as BARD Download

Tina Fontana is the executive assistant to media mogul Robert Barlow. When a technical error at the multinational media conglomerate gives the financially strapped veteran employee a chance to pay off her student loans in ways the company will never notice, she embarks on a downward spiral involving other employees with crushing debts and fewer scruples. 2016.

Download The Assistants, DB 84350

Belles of New England: The Women of the Textile Mills and the Families Whose Wealth They Wove

by William Moran

DBC 3821, Available as BARD Download

Interweaving the history of the women who toiled in textile factories, and fought hard for fair pay, with the story of blue-blooded owners who made vast fortunes off the manual labor of others, including Southern slaves, this is a fascinating saga of greed, discrimination, and courage. 2014.

Download Belles of New England, DBC 3821

Broad Band: The Untold Story of the Women who Made the Internet

by Claire L. Evans

DB 90515, BR 22219, DB available as BARD Download

Female visionaries have always been at the vanguard of technology and innovation—they’ve just been erased from the story. Until now. Evans shows us how these women built and colored the technologies we can’t imagine life without and joined the ranks of the pioneers who defied social convention and the longest odds to become database poets, information-wranglers, hypertext dreamers, and glass ceiling-shattering dot com-era entrepreneurs. Includes profiles of Ada Lovelace, Admiral Grace Hopper, and Elizabeth “Jake” Feinler. 2018.

Download Broad Band, DB 90515

Download Braille, Broad Band, BR 22219

Convenience Store Woman

by Sayaka Murata

DB 92127, Available as BARD Download

Thirty-six-year-old Keiko Furukura has worked at the Smile Mart convenience store half her life, enjoying the predictable work governed by strict adherence to the employee manual. When a cynical young man joins the staff, he upsets the status quo. Originally published in Japanese in 2016. 2018.

Download Convenience Store Woman, DB 92127


by Sophia Amoruso

DB 79697, BR 20486, Available as BARD Download

Founder, CEO, and creative director of Nasty Gal tells how, starting as a seller on eBay, she expanded her online enterprise to a one-hundred-million-dollar business with 350 employees. Discusses her personal growth and financial history. Bestseller. 2014.

Download #Girlboss, DB 79697

Download Braille, #Girlboss, BR 20486

Girl Code: Unlocking the Secrets to Success, Sanity, and Happiness for the Female Entrepreneur

by Carla Alwill Leyba

DB 97035, Available as BARD Download

Advice guide for female entrepreneurs. Emphasizes the importance of supporting other women entrepreneurs through good times and bad. Topics covered include recognition of other women, trusting yourself, networking, failure, dealing with setbacks, focusing on the future, professional jealousy, and more. 2015

Download Girl Code, DB 90735

The Good Girls Revolt: How the Women of Newsweek Sued Their Bosses and Changed the Workplace

by Lynn Povich

DB 86292, Available as BARD Download

Firsthand account of the 1970 antidiscrimination suit brought by forty-six of the female employees of Newsweek magazine who believed women were not given opportunities to advance. Povich started at the magazine as a secretary and researcher and helped organize the “revolt.” Basis of 2016 TV show. 2012.

Download Good Girls Revolt, DB 86292

Governess: The Lives and Times of the Real Jane Eyre

by Ruth Brandon

DB 68642, Available as BARD Download

To become a governess, observed Jane Austen in Emma, was to “retire from all the pleasures of life, of rational intercourse, equal society, peace and hope, to penance and mortification forever.” Ruth Brandon weaves literary and social history with details from the lives of actual governesses, drawn from their letters and journals, to craft a rare portrait of real women whose lives were in stark contrast to the romantic tales of their fictional counterparts. Explores the longstanding tension between mothers and the women they hire to raise their children. 2008.

Download Governess, DB 68642

The Great Stewardess Rebellion: How Women Launched a Workplace Revolution at 30,000 Feet

by Nell McShane Wulfhart

DB 108425, Available as BARD Download

As flying boomed in the 1960s, women from across the United States applied for jobs as stewardesses. They were drawn to the promise of glamorous jet-setting, the chance to see the world, and an alternative to traditional occupations like homemaking, nursing, and teaching. “Sky girls” had to adhere to strict weight limits at all times; they couldn’t marry or have children; their makeup, hair, and teeth had to be just so. And, most importantly, stewardesses had to resign at 32. Eventually the stewardesses began to push back and it’s thanks to their trailblazing efforts in part that working women have gotten closer to workplace equality today. 2022.

Download The Great Stewardess Rebellion, DB 108425

Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race

by Margot Lee Shetterly

DB 86234, BR 21798, LT 20819, DVD 1508, Available as BARD Download

Daughter of a NASA engineer profiles the black women who worked for NASA and its predecessor, NACA, as human computers. Discusses their lives prior to joining NACA/NASA, the challenges they faced due to gender and race discrimination, and their impact on the space program. Basis for the 2016 movie. 2016.

Download Hidden Figures, DB 86234

Download Braille, Hidden Figures, BR 21798

A Lab of One’s Own: Science and Suffrage in the First World War

by Patricia Fara

DB 90840, Available as BARD Download

Science historian presents a profile of the work of women scientists during World War I and the ways their work impacted the suffrage movement in the United Kingdom. Topics examined include the traditional roles of women, routes to power through science, wartime work, post-war readjustment, and more. 2018.

Download A Lab of One’s Own, DB 90840

Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead

by Sheryl Sandberg

DB 76404, Available as BARD Download

Former Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg laments the lack of women in leadership positions and offers advice on getting ahead in business. Uses anecdotes and research to advocate change in the workplace and at home and urges women to fight internal society barriers that hold them back. Bestseller. 2013.

Download Lean In, DB 76404

Lessons in Chemistry

by Bonnie Garmus

DB 107538, Available as BARD Download

In the early 1960s, chemist Elizabeth Zott has a lot of challenges as the only woman on her team at Hastings Research Institute. She falls for colleague Calvin Evans, but the double standards of the day eventually have her looking for a new chapter outside academia, hosting a television cooking show. 2022.

Download Lessons in Chemistry, DB 107538

Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay and a Mother’s Will to Survive

by Stephanie Land

DB 93971, BR 23264, LT 25876, Available as BARD Download

An economic-hardship journalist describes the years she worked in low-paying domestic work under wealthy employers, contrasting the privileges of the upper-middle class to the realities of the overworked laborers supporting them. Examines the difficulties and misleading rhetoric surrounding poverty as well as the realities of life in service work.  2019.

Download Maid, DB 93971

Download Braille, Maid, BR 23264

The Maid: A Novel

by Nita Prose

DB 106298, LT 31092, Available as BARD Download

Twenty-five-year-old Molly Gray doesn’t interact well with the world and misses her gran who codified it for her. She has gotten a job as a hotel maid and revels in her orderly duties. When she discovers a dead body in a room, Molly must unravel the real killer’s identity. Bestseller. 2022.

Download The Maid, DB 106298

Making Motherhood Work: How Women Manage Careers and Caregiving

by Caitlyn Collins

DB 94169, Available as BARD Download

A sociologist examines the ways that women balance careers and parenting in Sweden, Germany, Italy, and the United States. Draws on interviews conducted across five years with 135 middle-class working mothers. Discusses how mothers’ hopes and expectations change with societal context. 2019.

Download Making Motherhood Work, DB 94169

A Mouthful of Rivets: Women at Work in World War II

by Nancy Baker Wise and Christy Wise

DB 40825, Available as BARD Download

Nancy Baker Wise was among the many women who stepped into jobs left vacant by World War II soldiers. She and her daughter interviewed 137 others like her to describe that experience. The women discuss the types of jobs taken, the training provided, the attitudes of male co-workers and supervisors, the effects on the women’s homelife, and their displacement after the war. 2015.

Download A Mouthful of Rivets, DB 40825

My Remarkable Journey: A Memoir

by Katherine Johnson

DB 108945, Available as BARD Download

The remarkable woman at heart of the smash New York Times bestseller and Oscar-winning film Hidden Figures tells the full story of her life, including what it took to work at NASA, help land the first man on the moon, and live through a century of turmoil and change. In this memoir, Katherine shares her personal journey from child prodigy in the Allegheny Mountains of West Virginia to NASA human computer. 2021.

Download My Remarkable Journey, DB 108945

The Other Black Girl

by Zakiya Dalila Harris

DB 103816, LT 29955, Available as BARD Download

Tired of being the only Black employee at Wagner Books, twenty-six-year-old editorial assistant Nella is excited when Harlem-born Hazel starts working next to her. Soon Hazel is elevated to “Office Darling” and Nella starts receiving threatening notes. Nella is determined to find out who is behind them. Bestseller. 2021.

Download The Other Black Girl, DB 103816

The Queens of Animation: The Untold Story of the Women Who Transformed the World of Disney and Made Cinematic History

by Nathalia Holt

DB 97284, LT 28015, Available as BARD Download

Nathalia Holt recounts the dramatic stories of an influential group of women who infiltrated the all-male domain of Disney Studios and used early technologies to create the rich artwork and iconic storylines that would reach across generations while battling sexism, domestic abuse, and workplace harassment, and fighting to influence how female characters were depicted to young audiences. 2019.

Download The Queens of Animation, DB 97284

The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women

by Kate Moore

DB 89743, LT 22397, Available as BARD Download

Chronicle of the women employed during World War I as watch dial painters—requiring the use and ingestion of radium-laced paint—and their legal fight for compensation. Discusses the often gruesome physical deformities and pain the women experienced and their determination to receive justice. 2016.

Download The Radium Girls, DB 89743

Sisters in Arms: A Novel of the Daring Black Women Who Served During World War II

by Kaia Alderson

DB 104718, Available as BARD Download

Grace Steele and Eliza Jones may be from completely different backgrounds, but during World War II they both join the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC). Not only will they be among the first class of female officers, they are also the first Black women allowed to serve. As these courageous women help to form the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion, they are dealing with more than just army bureaucracy—everyone is determined to see this experiment fail. Based on the true story of the 6888th Postal Battalion (the Six Triple Eight), Sisters in Arms explores the untold story of what life was like for the only all-Black, female U.S. battalion to be deployed overseas during World War II. 2021.

Download Sisters in Arms, DB 104718

That’s What She Said: What Men Need to Know (And Women Need to Tell Them) About Working Together

by Joanne Lipman

DB 94004, Available as BARD Download

Editor-in-chief for the USA Today network examines ways to build communication bridges between women and men in business situations. Uses case studies to illustrate discussions of women’s lives, sexism, use of language, societal training of gender roles, solving for bias, and the next generation. 2018.

Download That’s What She Said, DB 94004

Unfinished Business: Women, Men, Work, Family

by Anne-Marie Slaughter

DB 82597, Available as BARD Download

Law professor discusses leaving her post at Princeton University to accept a position with the U. S. State Department—at the request of Hillary Clinton—that she later quit. Describes the impact on her family, especially her sons. Examines caregiving challenges and the myth of gender equality in the workplace. 2015.

Download Unfinished Business, DB 82597

Whisper Network

by Chandler Baker

DB 95874, LT 26940, Available as BARD Download

Four women have worked at Truviv, Inc., for years. Their boss Ames has always been surrounded by whispers about how he treats women. When it looks like Ames will be promoted, the four decide to speak out, setting in motion a catastrophic shift—and not everyone will survive. 2019.

Download Whisper Network, DB 95874

A Woman of No Importance: The Untold Story of the American Spy who Helped win WWII

by Sonia Purnell

DB 95178, LT 26900, Available as BARD Download

An account of the efforts of Virginia Hall, a Baltimore socialite and American spy who established spy networks throughout World War II France, ultimately escaping through the Pyrenees into Spain after her cover was blown.  Bestseller. 2019.

Download A Woman of No Importance, DB 95178

Women’s Work: The First 20,000 Years – Women, Cloth and Society in Early Times

by Elizabeth Wayland Barber

DB 40176, Available as BARD Download

This history of women’s work begins with the ancient societies of Scandinavia, Greece, Egypt, and Europe. Barber uses her skills in archaeology and interest in textiles to gather evidence of strong correlations between the daily lives of women, which included making cloth, and the effect of their work on the economy and culture of their times. 1994.

Download Women’s Work, DB 40176


Releases from the Perkins Library Recording Studio

Read more

A Little Witch in All of Us: Witchy Reads for Spooky Season

Read more

Works in Translation: Celebrating the 10th Anniversary of the Marrakesh Treaty

Read more