Books About Pioneering Women: Golda Meir, Elizabeth Warren and Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Golda by Elinor Burkett The book tells Golda Meir's story from her childhood in the Ukraine and later Milwaukee to her ascent to becoming an influential figure in world politics and a key contributor to Israel's development. Golda dreamt of becoming a teacher but then she discovered Zionism and the rest was history. She agreed to marry her husband on the condition that he immigrated with her to British-mandate Palestine and settle in a Kibbutz in 1921. She later became an activist, fundraiser, and finally a politician when Israel was recognized as a state in 1948. She was charming when needed, but also a tough negotiator and a pragmatic policymaker. My favorite story in the book is about how she handled the Jewish refugee crisis after WWII. In 1949, she presented a plan to the Knesset (Israeli parliament) to build 30 thousand new houses by year end. She couldn't let 200k immigrants to continue living in deplorable conditions. While politicians and economists were quarreling about costs, urban planning, the need for scientific data and the merits of restricting immigration and what should be spent on defense, Golda flew to the United States and raised $1 million through special development bonds. Once this was done, she moved on to job creation through massive infrastructure projects.
A Fighting Chance by Elizabeth Warren A Fighting Chance is Massachusetts' senator Elizabeth Warren autobiography. She was born in a poor family in Kansas who encouraged her to get married and not waste her time on higher education. She got a debate scholarship and decided to attend college and become a teacher. She dropped out of college two years later to marry her high school sweetheart and tried being the perfect housewife and mother to her two kids. Domestic life was not enough for Warren. She later ended up going to law school, becoming a law professor, remarrying, doing research and teaching at the University of Texas, UPENN and later Harvard. Interviewing ordinary people from around the United States, she discovered that more and more of them were unable to repay their debts because of medical conditions, falling for banking fraud and other reasons that locked in perpetual misery. She also found out that bank lobbyists manipulated legislation and public opinion to prevent people from ever declaring bankruptcy. She then dedicated her life to influencing relevant laws and regulations. After much begging from government officials, despite her disdain of Washington, she agreed joining various banking oversight committees and hit hard on Wall Street influence in Congress. At age 64 she decided to run for office for the first time and won despite all odds because her honest message and authenticity won over so many people.
Notorious RBG by Irene Carmon and Shana Knizhnik Notorious RBG is a humorous biography of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. 'RBG', daughter of Jewish immigrants, in 1956 was one of the nine women admitted to Harvard Law School's class of 500 students. Being a Jewish woman, a wife and mother, she had a hard time finding employment despite being one of the top students at Harvard and later at Columbia University. She ended up teaching at Rutgers University and successfully suing them for wage discrimination when she discovered that she and other female professors were getting paid less that male colleagues. RBG truly deserves the title of a "woman on whose shoulders we stand." She was the mastermind behind many of the legislations on gender equality, always using her strong wits and logic as well as building relationships with both liberals and conservatives to overcome controversial issues. Her philosophy was not to make equal rights and issue of men against women, but rather work to benefit all. In one famous case, for example, she argued that military husbands should get the same benefits as military wives.
This book is a fascinating recount of the evolution of civil rights as well as a sweet love story between Ruth and her late husband Marty.
Miriam Grobman Consulting works with organizations that want to advance more talented women into leadership roles by breaking cultural barriers and giving them the right skills to be successful. Our approach is data-driven, global and collaborative. Contact us if you'd like to discuss the right strategy for your organization.
Follow our Facebook page, Leadership and Women for inspiring stories about women leaders and practical career advice.