This week’s column is primarily for the ladies.
We’ll begin with “We Are Women.” Sporting a violently pink cover, this book is the latest offering from Kitsap County anthologist June Cotner, who joined forces with photographer Barb Mayer for this project. The collaborators paired vintage 20th-century photos with aphorisms uttered by an array of women including Margaret Thatcher, Dolly Parton and Maya Angelou to celebrate the “wit and grit” of women over the last hundred years.
It’s a surprise when they slip a quote by Lydia Maria Child into the mix: first, because Child lived and died in the 1800s; and second, because the selected quote – on fashion – doesn’t in any way represent the life’s work of this activist, who was outspoken in her calls for abolition of slavery, women’s rights, and Native American rights.
For the images in the book, Cotner and Mayer combed through online archives from around the world. They have photos of women on bicycles and roller skates, wielding golf clubs and barbells, and a large number of images showing women in bathing suits as the styles changed over the decades.
But in the end, “We Are Women” includes very few photos of women at work. Furthermore, the representations of women of color are pretty scanty. This seems like a missed opportunity to salute the true grit and grace demonstrated by women of the 20th century – our mothers, grandmothers and great-grandmothers – who endured hardships of various kinds – segregation, sexism, war, economic hard times – yet did indeed prevail with wit and hard-won wisdom.
“We Are Women” offers brief amusement, but it could have been so much more.
The other book this week, “Women in Tech,” launches us thoroughly into the 21st century.
Seattle-based tech entrepreneur Tarah Wheeler Van Vlack has frankly had it with the lousy statistics concerning women in tech.
“I’ve heard people talk about sexism, discrimination, biological imperatives, evolutionary and social preferences, and a host of other reasons why women just don’t seem to be a ‘good fit’ on the technological field,” she writes. “You know what? I don’t give a damn …”
With this book, she sets out to buck the system, giving great advice on how women can forge their own tech career paths.
Whether she’s talking about how to create a résumé, how to ace an interview, how to negotiate for a better salary, how to start your own company or how to mentor others, Van Vlack is assertive, smart, funny and generous. She not only shares her own story about how she got into the tech world and the strategies she has developed out of those experiences, she enlists seven other women who are successful tech professionals to tell their stories and insights, too.
At book’s end, there’s a bonus chapter for men about how to be an ally – it’s a must-read, really, for anyone who wants to make their workplace better.
Even technophobes could enjoy this book!
The Bookmonger is Barbara Lloyd McMichael, who writes this weekly column focusing on the books, authors and publishers of the Pacific Northwest. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org