List: This Is What A (Doctor, Scientist, Athlete, Mother, etc.) Looks Like
Books by and about some of the world's most inspiring women, in a range of occupations from athlete to soldier to mother to president. They're introduced by Audible's own Christina Harcar, who leads our peer-mentoring group Women@Audible.By Christina HarcarMar 8, 2017 4:45 PM
As the daughter of a single working mom (teacher, corporate business woman) who was the daughter of a single working mom (seamstress, waitress, factory worker), I feel lucky each Women’s History Month and IWD because I chose my job and my career.
Therefore, one of the first things I notice about women’s writing on work is the simple joy in choosing … and being chosen in return. Miriam Therese Winter explicitly discusses feeling chosen — nuns are said to have a “vocation,” after all — but also details the difficulty and satisfaction in coming to grips with being chosen for something you didn’t exactly plan on.
Similarly, Gabrielle Hamilton wrestled with her writing career for years before becoming a “reluctant chef,” but her talent for food and prose come together in her inspiring memoir Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef. Even in the kind of work that’s hard to quit once you’ve taken on the gig (such as motherhood or midwifery), women writers often express a refreshing autonomy and a pioneering sense of navigating the world — witness Call the Midwife and Rise.
Working doesn’t always equal recognition, however, as anyone who listened to Hidden Figures or saw the film can attest. Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson started learning math in the 1930s; fourscore and seven years later, we know their names as the African-American “human computers” without whom the U.S. would not have run the space race. Shoot Like A Girl and In the Land of Invisible Women both illuminate the stories of contemporary women who excel in their jobs, but still struggle to be seen in their professions. Lab Girl’s encouraging message is that love for the work itself nurtures great achievement; Hope Jahren’s story shows how seeds planted in childhood truly flower with collaboration.
Despite ongoing challenges — pay disparity comes to mind — women break through “the glass ceiling” every day: in sports, in business, in politics. Memoirs like Forward, Suits, and My Beloved World (even the title makes me smile) celebrate female empowerment, while Find Your Extraordinary can inspire the next class of CEOs. For a little comic relief, take it from Carol Burnett: We’re In Such Good Company with our colleagues and allies. And although the U.S. doesn’t yet have a woman president, Madame President lights the way, thanks to Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the Nobel Prize-winning leader of Liberia.
I’m confident I speak for all of us — women (and our allies), Audible employees, and, most of all, readers and listeners — when I wish that these stories, and others like them, will help engender a world where every woman is free to choose her best life.