13 Resources for Women Ready to Lead

Women only represent about 25 percent of the technology workforce. Narrow that down to women in executive leadership roles and the percentage plummets even further.

What better time and place than right now at SXSW Interactive to discuss fostering and empowering a community of female leaders within the technology landscape? On Saturday, our Chief Customer Officer, Virginia Miracle and Jan Ryan, a successful software tech CEO and Founder of Women@Austin, will lead a core conversation, Get a Seat in the C-Suite: Fostering Women Leaders. And they are pretty excited about it.

So excited, in fact, that they couldn’t wait until the Saturday’s session to get the discussion started. Earlier this week, Virginia and Jan met with the Spredfast Women’s Leadership Forum to discuss negotiation, culture, mentorship, and conflict resolution—four key areas where women need to dig in and share guidance and experience with one another.

If the thoughtful, lively discussion we had in our own office stands as any indication, expect an abundance of collective wisdom to come out of Saturday’s Core Conversation.

During the session, my colleague Rachel asked a great question:



To get the #SXwomen conversation started and keep it going well after Saturday’s session, I asked my colleagues to help me compile a list of resources that explore negotiation, culture, mentorship, and conflict resolution further:

Fast Company - Strong Female Lead

This dedicated section of the Fast Company site promises to take “a critical look at what’s really holding us back on the road to a more equitable version of the american workplace.”  My favorite recent piece? This article about how hard it is to even access gender data crucial to diversifying the industry.

Women Don’t Ask: Negotiation and the Gender Divide

by Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever

I read this eye-opener while auditing a Negotiation course at Oakland University. The authors share research that shows the dramatic difference between men and women’s propensity to negotiate. It also provides guidance on how and why women should ask for what they want.


Both Jan and Virginia stressed the importance of knowing your worth when it’s time to negotiate. One key step in that process is gathering data that helps you figure out where you stack up. Ashley Brown, our VP of Social Strategy, suggested looking at sites like Glassdoor where you can find information about salary and hints about company culture by looking for consistent feedback.

The Confidence Code

by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman

“Confidence Code is a book I would recommend that every woman and every person raising a woman read. Authors Kay and Shipman share valuable information that unpacks the reasons women tend to be less confident than men. The authors also provide great insight to help readers become more confident and how to raise young women to grow up with more confidence than their predecessors.”

— Laura Baker, Social Marketing Manager

Zingerman’s Guide to Good Leading

by Ari Weinzweig

This one I read and lived. I once worked in the Mail Order business of this famous deli in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Zingerman’s commitment to transparency, employee ownership, and vision-driven growth showed me what great company culture looks like. This book spells out the business approach that makes Zingerman’s so special.

Levo League

“Career development is a frequent topic of conversation among my friends. Beyond sharing my personal experience, I often point friends to Levo League. It’s a great resource—both online and with local community chapters (shoutout to the Austin Local Levo Chapter) to offer a space to focus on helping elevate your career. They've created smart content for career guidance from experienced professionals, provide a platform to connect members with qualified mentors, and offer regular video chat sessions called “Office Hours” with some incredible guests who share their advice and answer questions.”

Sofie Pompa, Business Development Manager

Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success by Adam Grant

Another recommendation from Sofie, this book looks at the traits seen in effective networking, collaboration, influence, negotiation, and leadership skills to redefine how we think about relationship development. Christy Kirby, Senior Strategist of Performance & Impact, seconded the recommendation, “I read it last year and love the insights into how to create a more collaborative workforce."

Women @ Austin

Jan and Virginia are both leaders in this local organization that has one raison d’être: to advance women entrepreneurs in Austin. But if you are just visiting for SXSW, don’t let that stop you from joining the Facebook group where you’ll find great resources on mentoring, connections, and access to capital.

Lean In 

by Sheryl Sandberg

I have to admit, this book was equal parts head nodding and head scratching for me. But if you have only read articles critiquing or endorsing Sandberg’s stance, it’s worthwhile to read the book itself and make your own informed opinion. And if it isn’t for you? Take advice from another suggested author, Amy Poehler, and just say, “Good for her, not for me!”

Crucial Conversations Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High

by Kerry Patterson

This book walks you through having direct and meaningful conversations. It is a good resource for conflict resolution for many different industries and personality types. That said, for a book about clear communication, it is a bit esoteric. For example, the space that both parties need to be in to communicate effectively is the "Shared Pool of Meaning." If you're up for a bit of fluff, dive right in.

Mia Iseman, Instructional Trainer


Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking,

by Susan Cain

“I really liked this book. There was some fascinating history in it, which made my research-loving heart happy. Plus, rather than showing us how to become more extroverted, Quiet actually shows you how introvertedness can be a strength in the world (and specifically the business world).”

Joy Freeman, Customer Success Strategist

Bossy Pants by Tina Fey and Yes Please by Amy Poehler

The scarcity of female leadership in the tech industry is no laughing matter but I thought I’d end with autobiographies from two of my favorite women. Fey and Poehler have both persevered in the male-dominated comedy industry. I highly recommend both books for a more humorous take and many life lessons.

That’s our list, what other resources would you recommend for women ready to lead?

cdoman@spredfast.com's picture

Courtney Doman

Courtney is the Content Marketing Manager at Spredfast. She focuses on sharing smart social ideas and insights to transform the way companies connect with consumers. Courtney is a passionate football fan (supporting Arsenal and the USMNT), curious traveller, and ambitious home cook.