That is a question I am frequently asked. My answer is, “Books that respond directly to their most important needs, interests, objectives, etc.” (By the way, that is the same response to another question, “Which business books do executives find most valuable?”) For many years, I have reviewed business books for three Web sites that were founded by and for business women. One of them is the online “home” for Business and Professional Women/USA. Each month, ten new reviews are featured.
After the first three months, I began to receive quite a few complaints, some accusing me of being “chauvinistic,” “patronizing,” “condescending,” etc. I called the BPW/USA headquarters and spoke with my contact. “What’s all this about?” She explained that the organization’s staff as well as most of its members “really appreciated” the reviews but it would be a good idea to discuss the business books I thought were most important. “If some were written by and for women, fine, but don’t let that be the only consideration.” Since then, I haven’t.
One final point: I think that there are several business books written by and primarily for women that should also be read by men. The value of the material they provide transcends gender. For example, these listed in author alpha order:
The Mary Kay Way: Timeless Principles from America’s Greatest Woman Entrepreneur (Mary Kay Ash)
Women Don’t Ask: Negotiation and the Gender Divide and Ask For It: How Women Can Use the Power of Negotiation to Get What They Really Want (Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever)
America’s Women: 400 Years of Dolls, Drudges, Helpmates, and Heroines (Gail Collins)
Through the Labyrinth: The Truth About How Women Become Leaders (Alice H. Eagly and Linda L. Conti)
Play Like a Man, Win Like a Woman: What Men Know About Success that Women Need to Learn (Gail Evans)
The Female Vision: Women’s Real Power at Work (Sally Helgesen and Julie Johnson)
How to Be Like Women of Influence: Life Lessons from 20 of the Greatest (Ruth and Pat Williams with Michael Mink)
Fortunately, all of them are available in a paperbound edition.