I want to share 10 books by women of color that have had an impact on my life over the years as a woman working in the male-dominated finance industry. In a business world that is often prioritizing white male voices, these books provide powerful and inspiring perspectives from authors of many different backgrounds. Of course, not all the books on this list are strictly business-related; many are memoirs and even some fiction made the list.
Brotopia by Emily Chang
In her book, ‘Brotopia: Breaking Up the Boys’ Club of Silicon Valley’, Emily Chang dives deep into the culture of Silicon Valley and examines the rampant sexism that often exists there. She details the exclusive, male-dominated clubs and events where women are excluded and even harassed, and she interviews many women who have experienced discrimination in the tech industry. Chang also looks at the efforts of several activists and organizations that are working towards gender equity in the venture capital and startup ecosystem. The book is a rallying cry for a new era of inclusion.
It’s About Damn Time by Arlan Hamilton
In her book, ‘It’s About Damn Time’, Arlan Hamilton shares the story of her journey from the music industry to homelessness to becoming the founder and managing partner of Backstage Capital, one of the first venture capital firms to focus on investing in underrepresented founders. Through her inspirational experience, Hamilton encourages readers to use being underestimated to their advantage. She offers practical advice for entrepreneurs and advocates for diversity and inclusion in the startup world.
Startup Wife by Tahmima Anam
‘Startup Wife’ is a novel by Tahmima Anam that tells the story of Asha, a woman who suddenly finds herself in the midst of an all-consuming romance and startup culture in New York City. While Asha is the brains behind the startup, her husband unsurprisingly gets the spotlight. Not to spoil the ending, but the startup gets out of hand and only then is Asha handed the reins. This story really got me hooked and was a thoughtful take on the toxic side of the startup world.
Brave, Not Perfect by Reshma Saujani
‘Brave, Not Perfect’ by Reshma Saujani is a book that encourages girls and women to embrace bravery and risk-taking over perfection, which is what young boys are typically taught. Saujani highlights the importance of failure and how it can be a positive experience, drawing on learnings from her own journey. The book also provides practical strategies and tools for how to build the confidence, resilience, and courage to take risks. Reshma Saujani is the founder of Girls Who Code, an organization dedicated to teaching young girls to code.
Drop the Ball by Tiffany Dufu
‘Drop the Ball’ is a book by Tiffany Dufu, a leading advocate for women and girls, that explores how women can set themselves up to succeed without having to “do it all”. Through her own experience of balancing a leadership role at a major non-profit with raising children, Dufu provides insight into the importance of prioritizing, empowering her husband to be a full partner in the home, and allowing herself to let go of the pressure to do everything on her own. The book provides new perspectives on how women can redefine success and create a life of greater purpose, power, and peace.
Wolf Hustle by Cin Fabre
‘Wolf Hustle: A Black Woman on Wall Street’ is a memoir by Cin Fabre, a former stock trader who worked at a firm tied to Jordan Belfort (known as the Wolf of Wall Street). It follows her journey as a Black woman in the largely white, male-dominated world of finance. Through her personal story, she shares experiences of racism, sexism, and institutional barriers. Fabre details her rise in the financial industry, her successes, and her eventual exit. She offers insight into how she navigated interpersonal challenges and hostile working environments to make it on Wall Street.
Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
‘Bad Feminist’ is a collection of essays by Roxane Gay that examines the intersections of feminism, pop culture, race, politics, and more. Gay examines how society’s expectations of women can be limiting and how feminism can be nuanced, complex, and even problematic in some ways. She touches on her own lived experience as a woman of color and the struggles she has faced in her life. These essays are deeply personal and thought-provoking.
Unbound by Tarana Burke
‘Unbound’ is a book by Tarana Burke, the founder of the #MeToo movement. The book explores Burke’s life and the evolution of #MeToo, as well as her work to create a world free of sexual violence. Through personal stories, Burke advocates for a comprehensive approach to addressing sexual violence, one that centers on transformative justice, healing, and understanding. She encourages readers to take action and become part of the movement. Burke is often not given the proper credit for beginning #MeToo, which points to the importance of fighting for intersectional feminism.
Grit by Angela Duckworth
‘Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance’ by Angela Duckworth is a book that examines the importance of grit in achieving lasting success. Duckworth argues that having an intense and sustained focus on a single goal (grit) is essential to success, even more important that raw intelligence or talent alone. She offers practical advice on how to cultivate a gritty mindset. Duckworth explores how grit is linked to sustained achievement in various contexts, such as education, business, sports, and the military. Throughout the book, Duckworth encourages readers to become the best version of themselves.
Hood Feminism by Mikki Kendall
Mikki Kendall’s book ‘Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women That a Movement Forgot’ is an analysis of the state of feminism today and the ways in which it has failed to address the needs of marginalized communities. Kendall examines how the mainstream feminist movement has failed to recognize issues that disproportionately affect women of color, such as poverty, food insecurity, and lack of access to quality healthcare. She also discusses how intersectionality is the most important factor in creating true justice and equity, and why this is often overlooked by white women.
If you have any additions to this list, drop us a note! And if you need more books – check out 21 books for venture capitalists.