What is it really like to be a female in a man’s world?
Nevertheless, She Persisted: True Stories of Women Leaders in Tech by Pratima Rao Gluckman attempts to answer this question through the interviews of nineteen intriguing professional women. Each of these women hold high-tech positions in the field of technology and have held jobs in both startups and well-established, popular companies like LinkedIn and AT&T.
The seed of this book originated with the author’s own childhood. Gluckman knew from an early age that she wanted to be an engineer, following her path into this field and eventually into a management position. She believed in a good work ethic and the passion of interest – in her case, engineering and management – to get her professionally where she wanted to go. As she pursued her professional goals – and as the roles of women continue to be challenged in our current climate – Gluckman became interested in studying and presenting the realities of being female and working in a male-dominated industry.
Gluckman presents many of the challenges that women face in the workplace through the stories of these nineteen women. Through these interviews, women talk about the lack of female role models or mentors, taking on male characteristics in the workplace, such as hairstyle and dress, dealing with imposter syndrome, the pitfalls of meritocracy, language assigned to strong women (such as “dragon lady,” where a man would simply be called “assertive”), the glass ceiling and cliff, and pay inequities. This is by no means an exhaustive list of issues, either.
Every chapter begins with a bio sketch, detailing each woman’s professional qualifications and personal qualities as a brief introduction. Each sketch is followed by a personal, well-written narrative that showcases each woman’s unique experiences and challenges being female in a man’s world. Each chapter ends with a list of takeaways from the chapter. These statements encapsulate the important points of each woman’s interview, including important philosophical beliefs and skills that have contributed to the success of each woman.
The women themselves are intriguing, and Gluckman’s style of writing really lets her subjects shine. While the author interviewed each woman, the information is put into informative, entertaining, and personal stories instead of a question-and-answer format. The stories are engaging and while there is a definite flow to the book, each chapter is a stand alone; the book can be read and absorbed a chapter at a time, with plenty for the brain to chew on in between readings.
There are many personal and professional lessons offered up by each woman, some of which overlap. This serves to emphasize specific principles, such as the importance of confidence, communication skills, and authenticity from women in the workplace. Women in these high-profile and powerful positions have learned how to navigate as a female in a man’s world, learning from constructive criticism, choosing the best mentors regardless of gender, and asking for what they want and what they’re worth. These points are just the tip of the iceberg.
More than anything else, Gluckman brings to the surface the undercurrent of gender bias that women across professional fields have always known. Being a female in a man’s world is challenging. Difficult. Full of obstacles. But it’s also hopeful and full of opportunities.
Thanks to Nevertheless, She Persisted: True Stories of Women Leaders in Tech, we know that being a female in a man’s world is rapidly changing, due to strong, powerful, motivated women like those featured in this book. This work provides girls and women of all ages with role models and unique perspectives on what it’s like to rise to positions of leadership and power in a man’s world.