Eight books recommended by participants and convenors of Women’s Environmental Leadership Australia. This list includes comprehensive discussions about women’s leadership, practical guides, reflections on campaigns and memoirs from inspiring women leaders.
Christine Nixon and Amanda Sinclair, 2018, Read How You Want
A guide to leading, achieving and thriving from women who know.
“Women Leading smashes tired prescriptions that women should lead like men, highlighting a long history of innovative female leadership. Christine Nixon and Amanda Sinclair draw on their own and thousands of others’ experiences to argue it is women who provide new inspiration for change towards inventive, inclusive and productive organisations and communities. Through stories, examples and research, they show how to be a positive leader while maintaining your health and humour. They will provoke you to think differently about stepping forward and inspire you to seek opportunities to lead your way.” – Publisher’s description
Listen / Watch
The history and future of women in leadership – Life Matters, ABC Radio National
Christine Nixon and Amanda Sinclair talk to Amanda Smith about shaking the deeply entrenched assumption that women aren’t suited to leadership.
Christine Nixon on Lateline – Lateline
Emma Alberici speaks to Christine Nixon about her new book, ‘Women Leading’, which explores the history of female leadership.
Women and Leadership: Real Lives, Real Lessons
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Julia Gillard, 2020, Penguin Books
“An inspirational and practical book written by two high-achieving women, sharing the experience and advice of some of our most extraordinary women leaders, in their own words.
As a result of their broad experience on the world stage in politics, economics and global not-for-profits, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Julia Gillard have some strong ideas about the impact of gender on the treatment of leaders. Women and Leadership takes a consistent and comprehensive approach to teasing out what is different for women who lead.
Almost every year new findings are published about the way people see women leaders compared with their male counterparts. The authors have taken that academic work and tested it in the real world. The same set of interview questions were put to each leader in frank face-to-face interviews. Their responses were then used to examine each woman’s journey in leadership and whether their lived experiences were in line with or different from what the research would predict.
Women and Leadership presents a lively and readable analysis of the influence of gender on women’s access to positions of leadership, the perceptions of them as leaders, the trajectory of their leadership and the circumstances in which it comes to an end. By presenting the lessons that can be learned from women leaders, Julia and Ngozi provide a road map of essential knowledge to inspire us all, and an action agenda for change that allows women to take control and combat gender bias.
Featuring Jacinda Ardern, Hillary Clinton, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Theresa May, Michelle Bachelet, Joyce Banda, Erna Solberg, Christine Lagarde and more.” – Publisher’s description
Listen / Watch
Julia Gillard on women in leadership – ABC Radio
Australia’s first female Prime Minister Julia Gillard is well known for her speech calling out misogyny in the Australian Parliament. She’s since backed that up – co-writing a new book, “Women and leadership: Real Lives and Real Lessons”.
A Podcast of One’s Own with Julia Gillard
Former Prime Minister of Australia, Julia Gillard presents a podcast in her role as Chair of the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership. In each episode Julia leads a thoughtful but fun discussion with well-known female (and some male) leaders from the worlds of business, entertainment, media, sport and many more. By celebrating their stories and learning the lessons from their lives, the podcast gives us insight into what needs to be done so more women get to lead. Earnings from the podcast will go back into funding for the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership, furthering the work they do to create a world in which being a woman is no barrier to being a leader.
Little Black Book: A Toolkit for Working Women
Otegha Uwagea, 2017, Fourth Estate
“The essential career handbook for creative working women. Little Black Book: A Toolkit For Working Women is the modern career guide every creative woman needs, whether you’re just starting out or already have years of experience. Packed with fresh ideas and no-nonsense practical advice, this travel-sized career handbook is guaranteed to become your go-to resource when it comes to building the career you want.
Writer Otegha Uwagba takes you through everything you need to build a successful self-made career: from how to negotiate a payrise to building a killer personal brand, via a crash course in networking like a pro, and tips for overcoming creative block. Plus Little Black Book is full of indispensable advice on how to thrive as a freelancer, and an entire chapter dedicated to helping you master the tricky art of public speaking.
With contributions from trailblazing creative women including acclaimed author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Refinery29 co-founder Piera Gelardi, The Gentlewoman’s Editor in Chief Penny Martin, and many more, Little Black Book is a curation of essential wisdom and hard-won career insights. Whether you’re a thinker, a maker, an artist or an entrepreneur, you’ll find plenty of inspiration for your working life here.: – Publisher’s description
Listen / Watch
In Good Company – Otegha’s podcast
A podcast for working women, hosted by Women Who founder Otegha Uwagba. Full of practical advice, fresh ideas, and interviews with smart, successful women, this is essential listening for working women – whether you’re just starting out, or already have years of experience.
Talking straight out : stories from the Irati Wanti Campaign
Kupa Piti Kungaka Tjuta, Edited by Nina W. Brown and Clare Brown, 2005, Alapalatja Press
In 2004, after a six-year battle, the Federal Government abandoned the plan to impose a national nuclear waste dump in central SA. The campaign was led by senior Aboriginal women, the Kupa Piti Kungka Tjuta, many of them victims of the British atomic bomb tests half a century ago. This year marks 63 years since the first British nuclear test detonated on the Australian mainland.
Talking Straight Out features images and insights from the remarkable campaign that stopped SA from becoming the nation’s nuclear waste dump. For six years the Kungka Tjuta travelled the country, ‘talking straight out’. They called their campaign Irati Wanti − the poison, leave it. They explained, they demanded, they marched and sang. They told of extraordinary personal histories. They wrote passionate letters to politicians. They won. They published a book to share their stories.
Note: This book is out of print. You can find out where to borrow a copy in Australia on Trove. (Click on the Borrow link). Here is also a copy of the Irati Wanti website that has been archived.
Greenham Common: Women at the Wire
Barbara Harford, 1984, Women’s Press
Recounts the history of the non-violent direct action that was the women’s peace camp at the US Air Force base in Greenham Common, Berkshire. It started with the 1981 Women for Life on Earth March from Cardiff against the siting of nuclear missiles at the base. The camp gained international recognition and was a landmark in the women’s movement.
Find out more about the Greenham Common Camp –
- How the Greenham Common Protest Change Lives: ‘We danced on top of the nuclear siloes’ – The Guardian, 21/3/2017
- Women form peace camp to protest housing of cruise missiles at Greenham Common, 1981-1993, Global Nonviolent Action Database
- Greenham Common pictures highlight life in the peace camps, BBC, 7/12/2018
Staying Alive: Women, Ecology and Development
Vandana Shiva, 2016, Frog Ltd (first published in 1988)
Inspired by women’s struggles for the protection of nature as a condition for human survival, award-winning environmentalist Vandana Shiva shows how ecological destruction and the marginalization of women are not inevitable, economically or scientifically. She argues that “maldevelopment”—the violation of the integrity of organic, interconnected, and interdependent systems that sets in motion a process of exploitation, inequality, and injustice—is dragging the world down a path of self-destruction, threatening survival itself. Shiva articulates how rural Indian women experience and perceive ecological destruction and its causes, and how they have conceived and initiated processes to arrest the destruction of nature and begin its regeneration. Focusing on science and development as patriarchal projects, Staying Alive is a powerfully relevant book that positions women not solely as survivors of the crisis, but as the source of crucial insights and visions to guide our struggle. – Publisher’s description
Christine Milne: An Activist Life
Christine Milne, 2017, University of Queensland Press
“Former Greens leader Christine Milne tells her story through 18 objects, interweaving the personal and political to recount a truly inspirational life.
An Activist Life is the story of an apparently ordinary woman – a high-school English teacher from northwest Tasmania – who became a fiery environmental warrior, pitted against some of the most powerful business and political forces in the country.
In it, Christine Milne tells her story through the objects that have symbolic meaning in both her personal and political life, from the butter pats in her kitchen that represent her journey from farm girl at Wesley Vale to environmental and human rights activist at the national and global level, to the Pride t-shirt she wore walking in Mardi Gras next to her son, after years of fighting for the legal reform of gay rights in Tasmania. She describes how politics actually works: the deals, the promises kept and broken, the horse-trading and treachery involved in some of the most controversial and difficult issues of our time, including the attempts to forge a workable and effective climate change policy for Australia, and our treatment of refugees and asylum seekers.
This is a fascinating insider’s account of what it means to be a woman in politics: the sacrifices of family life and relationships, the relentless misogyny and sexism that must be endured, the gritty conviction that you must never, ever give up the pursuit of the greater good. It is the story of Australian politics and the fight to save the world, and essential reading for anyone who cares about either.” – Publisher’s description
Listen / Watch
How to have an activist life: Christine Milne on the Podcast – Work It Out: Women’s Agenda Podcast
Former leader of The Greens Christine Milne has had an extraordinary career in activism, politics and getting heard. Having retired from politics in 2015, she recently penned her memoir, An Activist Life. This week, Christine joined Angela Priestley and Georgie Dent in the Eagle Waves Studio to talk about her career, the current state of activism in Australia, family life and why she believes more grandparents should get out and protest big issues.
Christine Milne: A quiet revolutionary – ABC Radio
Christine Milne grew up on a dairy farm in north west Tasmania, making butter and catching rabbits. She planned to be a school teacher, living a quiet life in the community she loved. But after joining the Franklin dam blockade Christine became committed to environmental campaigns. She entered politics, eventually becoming a federal senator and leader of the Australian Greens after Bob Brown retired. Christine worked hard to keep her private life separate from her political career. As a result she was criticised for being too formal and failing to play the publicity game. But she remains a woman of strong passions.
Gloria Steinem: My life on the road
Gloria Steinem, 2017, Black Inc.
“My Life on the Road is the moving, funny, and profound story of Gloria Steinem’s growth and the growth of a revolutionary movement for equality—and of how surprising encounters on the road shaped both. Gloria Steinem—writer, activist, organizer, and inspiring leader—now tells a story she has never told before, a candid account of her life as a traveler, a listener, and a catalyst for change.
When people ask me why I still have hope and energy after all these years, I always say: Because I travel. Taking to the road—by which I mean letting the road take you—changed who I thought I was. The road is messy in the way that real life is messy. It leads us out of denial and into reality, out of theory and into practice, out of caution and into action, out of statistics and into stories—in short, out of our heads and into our hearts.
Gloria Steinem had an itinerant childhood. When she was a young girl, her father would pack the family in the car every fall and drive across country searching for adventure and trying to make a living. The seeds were planted: Gloria realized that growing up didn’t have to mean settling down. And so began a lifetime of travel, of activism and leadership, of listening to people whose voices and ideas would inspire change and revolution.
My Life on the Road is the moving, funny, and profound story of Gloria’s growth and also the growth of a revolutionary movement for equality—and the story of how surprising encounters on the road shaped both. From her first experience of social activism among women in India to her work as a journalist in the 1960s; from the whirlwind of political campaigns to the founding of Ms. magazine; from the historic 1977 National Women’s Conference to her travels through Indian Country—a lifetime spent on the road allowed Gloria to listen and connect deeply with people, to understand that context is everything, and to become part of a movement that would change the world.
In prose that is revealing and rich, Gloria reminds us that living in an open, observant, and “on the road” state of mind can make a difference in how we learn, what we do, and how we understand each other.” – Publisher’s description
Listen / Watch
Gloria Steinem: My Life on the Road – YouTube – WGBHForum
Gloria Steinem had an itinerant childhood. When she was a young girl, her father would pack the family in the car every fall and drive across country searching for adventure and trying to make a living. The seeds were planted: Gloria realized that growing up didn’t have to mean settling down. And so began a lifetime of travel, of activism and leadership, of listening to people whose voices and ideas would inspire change and revolution. My Life on the Road is the moving, funny, and profound story of Gloria’s growth and also the growth of a revolutionary movement for equality—and the story of how surprising encounters on the road shaped both. From her first experience of social activism among women in India to her work as a journalist in the 1960s; from the whirlwind of political campaigns to the founding of Ms. magazine; from the historic 1977 National Women’s Conference to her travels through Indian Country—a lifetime spent on the road allowed Gloria to listen and connect deeply with people, to understand that context is everything, and to become part of a movement that would change the world.
NPR Podcast and transcript – Author Interview – At 81, Feminist Gloria Steinem Finds Herself Free Of The ‘Demands Of Gender’
As she approached 60, the co-founder of Ms. magazine says, she entered a new phase in life, one in which “you can do what you want.” Steinem’s new memoir is My Life on the Road.
Women’s Environmental Leadership Australia (WELA) is empowering, supporting and funding women’s leadership for our environment and climate action, in order to transform Australia’s response to these crises. Find out more about WELA.
- Films About Women & Social Change
- Quotes about Women & Leadership
- Aboriginal Memoirs as Social Activism