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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.