The state of women in the workforce and in the world can sometimes seem dismal. Women are paid 23% less than men. Women run only 7% of Fortune 500 companies (Source: Lean In). Research has shown that companies with more women in leadership roles perform better and have better family policies. The reasons are there, but we’re not seeing the results as quickly as we’d like.

It can be frustrating when things don’t change. But the fastest way to make change is to become a leader with the power to do so. Learn more about yourself and more about leadership as you follow the stories of the women in the books below. Whether you’re looking for career advice, relatable leadership experiences, or inspiration, settle in with one of these books and start feeling empowered!

If you’re looking for inspiration…

1. Becoming by Michelle Obama

Becoming has been widely recommended since it first came out, and quickly became a New York Times Bestseller. An inspiring book from a powerful woman leader, follow Michelle Obama throughout the challenges and successes of her life.

“As a woman and a black woman, she had to work three times as hard as a man, and she proved her worth. Michelle Obama tells us she is writing this book to inspire the next generation. She knows how important role models are, especially for young women of color in a culture that isn’t changing fast enough.” – Amazon Review

Here’s the book summary from Goodreads:

“In a life filled with meaning and accomplishment, Michelle Obama has emerged as one of the most iconic and compelling women of our era. As First Lady of the United States of America—the first African American to serve in that role—she helped create the most welcoming and inclusive White House in history, while also establishing herself as a powerful advocate for women and girls in the U.S. and around the world…In her memoir, a work of deep reflection and mesmerizing storytelling, Michelle Obama invites readers into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her—from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work, to her time spent at the world’s most famous address. With unerring honesty and lively wit, she describes her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private, telling her full story as she has lived it—in her own words and on her own terms. Warm, wise, and revelatory, Becoming is the deeply personal reckoning of a woman of soul and substance who has steadily defied expectations—and whose story inspires us to do the same.”

2. In the Company of Women: Inspiration and Advice From Over 100 Makers, Artists, and Entrepreneurs by Grace Bonney

In the Company of Women takes wisdom from a diverse group of inspirational women from around the country. Answering questions like “What did you want to be as a child?” and “What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve been given?” these women provide advice and inspiration for you and your business to grow. So pick up this book, and see what women can become when they work hard and support one another.

“I read the book cover to cover. I loved it, it’s been a huge source of inspiration for me as I start my own business. I highly recommend it to any woman who is thinking of, planning to, or in the midst of starting their own business. Or even if you work for someone – a lot of incredible pieces of advice that I found to be very similar. I liked making the connections across everyone’s experiences.”Amazon Review

Here’s the book summary from Goodreads:

“Across the globe, women are embracing the entrepreneurial spirit and starting creative businesses. In the Company of Women profiles over 100 of these influential and creative women from all ages, races, backgrounds, and industries. Chock-full of practical, inspirational advice for those looking to forge their own paths, these interviews detail the keys to success (for example, going with your gut; maintaining meaningful and lasting relationships), highlight the importance of everyday rituals (meditating; creating a daily to-do list), and dispense advice for the next generation of women entrepreneurs and makers (stay true to what you believe in; have patience). The book is rounded out with hundreds of lush, original photographs of the women in their work spaces.”

3. Becoming a Dangerous Woman by Pat Mitchell

In a groundbreaking new memoir, Pat Mitchell tells how she became a “dangerous woman” and how you can too. Sprinkling in relatable stories, she talks about how to step into your power, how to lift up other women, and how to embrace your potential at any age.

“Pat Mitchell is the real deal. I’ve heard her speak at Omega’s Women and Power Conference, mainly interviewing others. But I had no idea she had such a rich and inspiring career with a feminist thread throughout, always supporting and raising the profile of women’s issues while working on herself and breaking down barriers. There is so much wisdom in this book. She has a section toward the end on mentoring that, having read lots of articles on the topic, I thought was especially valuable and insightful. Mainly that some of us tend to overgive and how to be honest with yourself when mentoring others.”Goodreads Review

Here’s the book summary from Goodreads:

“An intimate and inspiring memoir and call to action from Pat Mitchell — groundbreaking media icon, global advocate for women’s rights, and co-founder and curator of TEDWomen. Pat Mitchell is a serial ceiling smasher. The first woman to own and host a nationally syndicated daily talk show, and the first female president of CNN productions and PBS, Mitchell has been lauded as a powerful changemaker and a relentless advocate for women and girls. In Becoming a Dangerous Woman, Mitchell shares her own path to power, from a childhood spent on a cotton farm in the South to her unprecedented rise in media and global affairs. Full of intimate, fascinating stories, such as an encounter with Fidel Castro while wearing a swimsuit, and traveling to war zones with Eve Ensler and Glenn, Becoming a Dangerous Woman is an inspiring call to arms for women who are ready to dismantle the barriers they see in their own lives.”

If you’re looking for career advice…

4. Own It: The Power of Women at Work by Sallie Krawcheck

A powerful book from an experienced and accomplished executive, Own It is the next great book for women in leadership. Keeping it optimistic and funny while delivering tough truths about the reality of women at work, Sallie Krawcheck tells women how to leverage their power to get ahead in the changing landscape of the business world.

Brave, bold account of Sallie Krawcheck’s journey in the often cutthroat world of finance. Raw, relatable… and most of all, inspirational! Let’s embrace what makes us uniquely women: we’re risk aware, manage complexity better, relationship focused, think long-term, love to learn, and aspire to live with purpose. We’re great for business and a better world!” – Amazon Review

Here’s the book summary from Goodreads: “So much career advice for women addresses how to succeed in the static business world of yesterday and today. But that world, says former Wall Street powerhouse-turned entrepreneur Sallie Krawcheck, is changing – and fast. In fact, we are on the brink of what Krawcheck calls the Fourth Wave of feminism, one that will usher in unprecedented opportunities for women in business…Here Krawcheck draws on her experiences at the highest levels of business, both as one of the lone women at the top rungs of the biggest boy’s club in the world, and as an entrepreneur, to show how women can tap into this growing power to elevate their careers: from getting the raise, to new takes on networking and mentoring, to navigating career breaks and curveballs to avoiding the biggest career mistake that most women don’t know they are making.”

5. The Next Generation of Women Leaders: What You Need to Learn but Won’t Learn in Business School by Selena Rezvani

Called “a must-read for the female professional,” The Next Generation of Women Leaders gives women at all stages of their career the tools to realize their professional goals. Focusing on women’s leadership strengths, and including interviews with 30 highly accomplished businesswomen, this book is sure to be a great one to add to your list.

“This book does an excellent job of focusing on the lessons learned by the 30 business leaders that can be passed on to the next generations to affect change. This book provides practical insight for women into office politics and how to successfully navigate them to the reader’s own advantage. I would recommend this book to all young women who want to get a head start on a successful career, for those who are still searching, or anyone looking for their ‘next steps.’” Amazon Review

Here’s the book summary from Goodreads:

“A penetrating, eye-opening, and ultimately empowering narrative, filled with stories of remarkable women who navigated the leadership maze and triumphed. While the leadership landscape may be shifting in women’s favor, women are nowhere near an equal presence in leadership roles when compared to men. Rezvani’s achievement was to engage some extraordinarily accomplished women as mentors, each of whom provided tools and information that young women can use to shape their own careers. The Next Generation of Women Leaders encourages younger women to be their own advocates when it comes to professional growth and advancement, and it provides tangible how-tos on negotiating the workplace as a woman.”

If you’re looking to be a better leader…

6. Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder by Arianna Huffington

Sometimes called a counterpoint to books encouraging people to make work their first priority, Thrive is a refreshing perspective on how to learn what success really means to you. Arianna Huffington tells her story of burnout and how she redefined her own life, and ways that you can do the same.

“This book is full of profound insights and observations. She writes eloquently. If you are a workaholic or feel burned out at your job or from life in general, I highly recommend this book. I wish there were more evolved people like her because this world would be a much happier, loving place.”Amazon Review

Here’s the book summary from Goodreads:

“In Thrive, Arianna Huffington makes an impassioned and compelling case for the need to redefine what it means to be successful in today’s world…As more and more people are coming to realize, there is far more to living a truly successful life than just earning a bigger salary and capturing a corner office. Our relentless pursuit of the two traditional metrics of success — money and power — has led to an epidemic of burnout and stress-related illnesses, and an erosion in the quality of our relationships, family life, and, ironically, our careers. In being connected to the world 24/7, we’re losing our connection to what truly matters. Our current definition of success is, as Thrive shows, literally killing us. We need a new way forward.”

7. What will it take to make a woman president?: Conversations about Women, Leadership and Power by Marianne Schnall

So many countries in the world have elected a female head of state – except for the U.S. This book is for all the people wondering why we’ve never had a woman president – or the people who haven’t asked themselves that question before and are now just asking themselves why they haven’t. Comprising interviews from a variety of influential men and women, this book addresses the barriers women have and how to get more women into the pipeline for political leadership.

“Have you ever wondered what it would take to have a woman president? If so, then this is a great book for you to pick up. In it, Schnall (Executive Director of asks a wide variety leading figures this exact question and gets just as much variety in her answers. Reaching out to men, women, politicians, businesspeople, and activists, she interviews influential figures such as Nicholas Kristof, Gloria Steinem, and (of course)  Sheryl Sandberg. What I liked about this book what that the tone was conversational and it felt like I was actually listening to the interviewees tell me their stories.” Goodreads Review

Here’s the book summary from Goodreads:

“Prompted by a question from her eight-year-old daughter during the 2008 election of Barack Obama — “Why haven’t we ever had a woman president?”—Marianne Schnall set out on a journey to find the answer. A widely published writer, author, and interviewer, and the Executive Director of, Schnall began looking at the issues from various angles and perspectives, gathering viewpoints from influential people from all sectors. What Will It Take to Make A Woman President? features interviews with politicians, public officials, thought leaders, writers, artists, and activists in an attempt to discover the obstacles that have held women back and what needs to change in order to elect a woman into the White House.”