A World that Women Will Build

May 17, 2008

I consider myself a reader before anything else. I read posters and signs when there is nothing else to read. I am permanently doing damage to my shoulders and back with books that weigh down the single-strap purses I know are bad for my posture. I read when I’m tired; I read when I’m awake; I read when I’m hungry and am trying to hold off until the next scheduled meal.

And I am presently inspired by the books I see getting media coverage. Maybe it’s the presence of our first competitive female candidate in the presidential election or maybe it’s the fact that mothers and young women are among the highest spending consumers in the market. All I know is that I am inundated with books I want to read, and they all revolve around women, power and confidence.

In a previous post, I discussed attending a book signing by Dee Dee Myers that was to promote her new book, Why Women Should Rule the World. It still languishes on my bookshelf, waiting to be read. This morning, before I’d even had a chance to have coffee, I saw a feature on CNN about Seducing the Boys Club: Uncensored Tactics from a Woman at the Top by Nina Disesa, the first woman and first creative director named chairman at McCann Erickson New York, one of – if not the – largest advertising agencies in the world. Now obviously, as I just saw this feature this morning, I have not read the book yet. But I would imagine it is, as the subtitle suggests, everything from tips and anecdotes to glass ceilings and straightforward advice from a woman who has made it to the top of her profession.

As a young woman myself, I see in books like Ms. Myers’s and Ms. Disesa’s, the possibility for women to learn from each other and to take something back from what has for so many years been an “old boys club”: politics. In a few years, I may be adding to my list books by women I respect and admire like Sen. Clinton and Michelle Obama. There may be new voices out there who have tackled Washington with a new excitement and a new energy who are ready to inspire the young women who look up to them. I just hope that I continue to see women who have broken through the proverbial glass ceiling reaching back through that barrier and holding out a helping hand to young women trying to make it themselves. I am encouraged daily by the women I see around me; the women who work in offices on Capitol Hill; the women who provide insight and commentary on the news and political events of the day; and the women who encourage me to make the most of my talents and to keep reaching for dreams I thought long dead and in the past.

All of these women who are my examples and who have been my examples for years are women who have, at some point or another, handed me a book. They are not all works of non-fiction. They are not all even books but sometimes are articles and magazines that they thought would inspire me or give me insight into the person they saw me becoming. I read because of them, and I read because I know that someday I want to be able to hand off a book to a young women in whose eyes and voice and excitement I can see a better future for her children and my own. I read on the Metro; I read on the bus; I read walking down the sidewalk – sometimes to the detriment of my toes and coffee – and I will keep reading because I see so much in what to some is just a pile of paper covered in scribbles.

-Rachael Berkey

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