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Luwanda Jenkins: Required back-to-school reading

As you turn the final page of that sizzling summer novel and rush to get the last of the back-to- school supplies for your kids, think about checking out these must-read books. Perfect for women who want to get a seat at the table in the office, these three titles provide practical and proven strategies to help professional women negotiate their path to leadership success.

“The Female Vision — Women’s Real Power at Work” by Sally Helgesen and Julie Johnson draws current research comparing women’s and men’s perceptions to illustrate why there are glaring differences between what women and men see. The authors provide numerous examples from challenges in the workplace to demonstrate why gender differences matter and how women’s vision can make a significant, positive difference in the workplace.

This book provides practical suggestions to help women increase the probability that their vision is not only recognized, but also implemented in daily decisions. “The Female Vision” offers guidance on how organizations can incorporate women’s best insights to boost the bottom line.

Feminine vision and values were the subject of a recent Harvard Business Review article titled “Feminine Values Can Give Tomorrow’s Leaders an Edge,” which affirms that eight of the top 10 competencies desired for today’s leaders are regarded as traditionally feminine characteristics.

The authors themselves bring a wealth of qualifications to bear on this issue. Helgesen is a renowned speaker and author of five books, including bestsellers “The Female Advantage” and “The Web of Inclusion.” Julie Johnson is a graduate of the Harvard Business School and an executive coach.

“Her Place at The Table … A Woman’s Guide to Negotiating Five Key challenges to Leadership Success” provides insight and coaching to help women confront the age-old question: “Does she have the right stuff?”

This question follows, to the extent of stalking, women whenever they are promoted to visible leadership roles. “Her Place at the Table” lays out the pragmatic moves that can help any woman show that she has the right stuff.

The team of authors set a five-star meal based on primary research and interviews of hundreds of professional women. I encourage you to take in every bite and leave room for dessert found in a great online group discussion guide available on the book’s website.

“Pushback — How Smart Women Ask and Stand Up for What They Want” is the third in my trio of top books for you leading women who want to leverage your skills, effectively advocate for yourself and get your careers on the fast track. Author Selena Rezvani, a Washington Post columnist, Johns Hopkins MBA grad and leadership consultant, exemplifies the profile of a Daily Record Leading Woman. She’s a high-achieving Generation X prodigy who speaks truth to this topic based on her experiences in corporate America and her work with other young professional women.

Rezvani equips women with the tools to negotiate for more than money. Better work assignments, job flexibility and even the ability to hold your own in a debate await you in “Pushback.”

Make sure you devour one or all three of these books before the hectic pace of fall schedules crowds your calendar. This is a homework assignment worth completing.

A member of The Daily Record’s Maryland Top 100 Women Circle of Excellence, Luwanda Walker Jenkins is special assistant to the president at Coppin State University.