While her subject is urgent and often complex, Kagerer adopts the encouraging tone of a coach, emphasizing action steps and real-world strategies to help readers break through inhibiting barriers, face their inner critic, or understand unconscious biases in individuals and organizations. Kagerer has arranged her material into 13 chapters, each titled for a B word: beliefs, balance, babes, babies. (An initial chapter covering how individuals can and should arrive at their own definitions of success boasts no alliterative title.) The chapters’ organizational logic isn’t always clear, and readers in a hurry might not intuit that Kagerer’s clarifying discussion of the rules of handshakes comes deep in the chapter titles “Babes.”
The book at times is playful—”Bitches” and “Badasses” get their own chapters—but Kagerer’s suggestions are nuanced and thoughtful, often illustrated by case studies of professional women or in well-told anecdotes from the author’s own life. Kagerer takes care to honor and address a diverse array of possible readers, including those whose idea of balance includes a traditional family and those who elect not to have children. The B Words is uncommonly helpful and candid.
Takeaway: This guide to success in the workplace for women offers frank, encouraging advice.
Great for fans of: Alicia Menendez’s The Likeability Trap, Katty Kay and Claire Shipman’s The Confidence Code.
Design and typography: B
Marketing copy: A
“Fear and power are at the heart of keeping things the same”
Women have made huge strides in gaining workplace equality, but that ongoing journey is still riddled with outdated opinions, cultural biases, and self-limitations. While women are now employed in all industries, often with unequal pay, many traditionally male-dominated companies, such as construction, still emanate that exclusive masculine club mentality and often only hire a single obligatory female.
In The B Words, Tricia Kagerer presents thirteen words that highlight the challenges and pitfalls that women still face, in both the workplace and society in general. Women have always been associated with the maternal roles of nurturer and caregiver, and while they have now breached other industries, closed doors and closed minds still prevail, with some limitations coming from the women themselves. For example, Kagerer points out that many women have a low sense of self-worth or believe the expectation that they are naturally inept at handling finances and business.
Harassment is another factor that many women of all ages and in all environments face. Kagerer indicates that the recent #MeToo and #TimesUp movements have galvanized discussions about women’s right to speak out against sexual harassment and bullying, but these behaviors will remain until both men and women of influence hear and act accordingly. While women are the target audience for this book, men can learn something as well, in terms of their own biases and behaviors that contribute to holding women back or showing disrespect.
The B Words is not only for young women entering the workforce who are not yet experienced in navigating male-dominated workplaces and handling unwanted attention and unfair assumptions. Women at all stages of life can relate to and benefit from this collection of scenarios, personal stories, breakthroughs, and advice that help create self-awareness and validate life choices.
Each “B word” smoothly feeds into the next and highlights character traits, limitations, and opportunities to help women achieve success, both on the job and at home. Every entry in The B Words is brief yet thorough in outlining issues and suggestions, with periodic notations for sources and directions for further research and information at the end of the book. Kagerer’s well-written entries cover many aspects of a woman’s professional and personal journey, such as evaluating old beliefs that stem from parental opinions and views, understanding and feeling comfortable with budgets and other financial aspects, recognizing biases in themselves and others, and embracing their positive bitch and badass qualities to create a life of bravery and achievement.
Not every woman will recognize all the B words in her past or current situations, but every word is valuable to help women perceive the constraints and catalysts for change. No door should be closed to a woman, even if that ‘door’ is an attitude that causes people to exclude or demean in any way. Knowledge and courage are stressed repeatedly throughout each topic because women continue to fight for inclusion and acceptance and must arm themselves with the right attitude and awareness to achieve confidence and success in their homes and in their chosen careers.
Tricia Kagerer, who lives in Plano, Texas, has achieved great success in the construction industry and understands firsthand the challenges of working and succeeding in a male-dominated profession. Kagerer now strives to smooth the way for other women through public speaking and The B Words.