Books to Read / gender bias in the workplace

Kool Kanya recommends: 9 books you should read to break the bias

. 6 min read . Written by Nruthya Johnson
Kool Kanya recommends: 9 books you should read to break the bias

Time to revisit and update your bookshelf. This month, we are #breakingthebias, and we’re helping you get there.

There is no dearth of books around the world that talk about the biases that women and other marginalised communities go through. Their various perspectives help us fight for our rights against different narratives and sometimes even recognise what we never saw before. Even as we belong to different class groups, age groups, and even fields of expertise - as women - we might share a similar journey or two as we walk the path towards standing our own and working our way up to success and independence.

So, if you’re looking for inspiration, motivation, or just a read to help you better understand how to effectively tackle gender biases and stand up for each other and ourselves, we’ve got the perfect collection of books.

9 books on gender bias to help you #breakthebias

1. Gender Inequality in India by Mamta Mehrotra

Source: Amazon

Our society treats a woman according to the status deemed on her by them and not what she actually deserves. At almost every stage, a woman is deprived of opportunities and privileges that practically every man is guaranteed. This book is a step towards recognising women in Indian society, and accepting their innate qualities, talents, and more. Clarifying issues pertaining to the status of women, gender inequality, law, sexual harassment in the workplace, and more, this book clearly maintains the position of viewing women as an asset who cannot be treated lightly.

2. UNBIAS: Addressing Unconscious Bias at Work by Stacey A. Gordan

Source: Goodreads

This book aims to help people understand the concepts of diversity, equality and inclusion to actively remove bias in the workplace. Dismantling biases needs conversations and action, which many workplaces are unaware of in the prevalent cultures within their companies. Unbias delves into actionable ways to identify and address bias, understand how to be more inclusive, place accountability for biassed behaviour, and more.

3. It’s Not You, It’s the Workplace: Women’s Conflict at Work and the Bias that Built it by Andrea S. Kramer and Alton B. Harris

Source: Amazon

Oftentimes, we women make it hard for ourselves with the internalised bias that stops us from helping each other. This book delves into a fresh perspective on why women have strained relationships with other women at work. A relatively misunderstood issue that has often portrayed women as queen-bees and rude back-stabbers, the authors disprove many of these untrue stereotypes. With real-world advice to overcome and avoid conflict with other women at work, this book encourages us to build on the positive aspects of women’s relationships and create supportive environments at work.

4. Queeristan: LGBTQ Inclusion in the Indian Workplace by Parmesh Shahani

Source: Amazon

With Section 377 being decriminalised, many organisations are yet to make fundamental changes that make them more inclusive and a safer place to work. Parmesh Shahani, VP at Godrej Industries Ltd., lays down active measures to create inclusive workplaces, drawing from his own experience. Breaking down the benefits to the company and the anecdotes of people who are now comfortable working in more inclusive spaces, he presents us with an essential guide to making workplaces LGBTQ-friendly.

5. Feminist Fight Club: A Survival Manual for a Sexist Workplace by Jessica Bennett

Source: Amazon

Even as we grow more aware of the biases that women come across, it can often be challenging to identify the subtle sexism and stereotypes veiled as something completely innocent. Feminist Fight Club is a witty yet straightforward guide to navigating subtle sexism at work and provides actionable advice to tackle them effectively. The first rule of this fight club is that you talk about it and encourage more women to speak up against the biases they face. With personal stories, research, and expert advice, this book tackles sexism and the self-sabotaging behaviours that many of us adopt in the workplace that perpetuates this system.

6. Powerful: The Indian Woman’s Guide to Unlocking Her Full Potential by Nirupama Subramanian

Source: Amazon

Power: a term that is usually associated with men and even mythological women, but rarely real-life women. Nirupama actively shifts the conversation of how stereotypes and biases shackle women to how they can enable them. With practical advice to reclaim their power to achieve their goals, this book helps women embark on transforming themselves and growing - especially in a world that actively prevents women from entering every space.

7. Invisible Women by Caroline Criado Perez

Source: Amazon

In a world designed by and for men, from government policy, medical research, and technology to the workplaces, it’s easy for us to ignore the differences that make us less equipped and less privileged to almost half the population: women. Delving into the gender bias so ingrained in our lives that we fail to recognise how they affect our daily lives, this book brings to light research and stories that remind us of how women are so forgotten in our world.

8. The Motherhood Penalty by Joeli Brearley

Source: Simon & Schuster UK

Imagine being fired from your job just because you told your boss that you were pregnant. Unfortunately, this is the truth for many women across the world. It’s even worse now, with an ongoing pandemic that questions how women contribute at the workplace. The Motherhood Penalty looks at the work practices and systems that make it unbearable for women to continue working as soon as they become mothers and how to navigate these systemic barriers.

9. Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud: The Rise and Reign of the Unruly Woman by Anne Helen Petersen

Source: Amazon

Our society is rife with the idea of the ideal and ‘acceptable woman’; the one who is quiet, demure, and has no opinions of her own. But women are increasingly pushing the boundaries of what it means to be an acceptable woman. She is now ‘too much’ and embodies a powerful form of womanhood – individuality. Peterson looks at prominent public figures like Serena Williams, Hillary Clinton, Nicki Minaj, and Kim Kardashian, among many others, and asks the question: why do we love to hate them?

The world is unfair, but we are no longer sitting back; we’re paving our own way. These inspiring books capture what it’s like to be the ‘other’ gender while raising important questions.

Read these books on gender bias at the workplace and otherwise to help you spot, challenge, and break the bias.

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