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Machiavelli For Women: Defend Your Worth, Grow Your Ambition, and Win the Workplace

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From the NPR host of The Indicator podcast and correspondent for Planet Money comes a guide for how today’s women can apply the principles of 16th-century philosopher Niccolò Machiavelli to their work lives and finally shatter the glass ceiling once and for all—perfect for fans of Feminist Fight Club, Lean In, and Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office. Women have been maki From the NPR host of The Indicator podcast and correspondent for Planet Money comes a guide for how today’s women can apply the principles of 16th-century philosopher Niccolò Machiavelli to their work lives and finally shatter the glass ceiling once and for all—perfect for fans of Feminist Fight Club, Lean In, and Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office. Women have been making strides towards equality for decades, or so we’re so often told. They’ve been increasingly entering male-dominated areas of the workforce and consistently surpassing their male peers in grades, university attendance, and degrees. They’ve recently stormed the political arena with a vengeance. But despite all of this, the payoff is—quite literally—not there: the gender pay gap has held steady at about 20% since 2000. And the number of female CEOs for Fortune 500 companies has actually been declining. So why, in the age of #MeToo and #TimesUp, is the glass ceiling still holding strong? And how can we shatter it for once and for all? Stacy Vanek Smith’s advice: ask Machiavelli. Using The Prince as a guide and with charm and wit, Smith applies Renaissance politics to the 21st century, and demonstrates how women can take and maintain power in careers where they have long been cast as second-best. Based on the latest research, tips from successful women across many industries, and experiences from Smith’s own life, Machiavelli for Women is a powerful, entertaining, and inspirational guide for a new generation of successful women.


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From the NPR host of The Indicator podcast and correspondent for Planet Money comes a guide for how today’s women can apply the principles of 16th-century philosopher Niccolò Machiavelli to their work lives and finally shatter the glass ceiling once and for all—perfect for fans of Feminist Fight Club, Lean In, and Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office. Women have been maki From the NPR host of The Indicator podcast and correspondent for Planet Money comes a guide for how today’s women can apply the principles of 16th-century philosopher Niccolò Machiavelli to their work lives and finally shatter the glass ceiling once and for all—perfect for fans of Feminist Fight Club, Lean In, and Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office. Women have been making strides towards equality for decades, or so we’re so often told. They’ve been increasingly entering male-dominated areas of the workforce and consistently surpassing their male peers in grades, university attendance, and degrees. They’ve recently stormed the political arena with a vengeance. But despite all of this, the payoff is—quite literally—not there: the gender pay gap has held steady at about 20% since 2000. And the number of female CEOs for Fortune 500 companies has actually been declining. So why, in the age of #MeToo and #TimesUp, is the glass ceiling still holding strong? And how can we shatter it for once and for all? Stacy Vanek Smith’s advice: ask Machiavelli. Using The Prince as a guide and with charm and wit, Smith applies Renaissance politics to the 21st century, and demonstrates how women can take and maintain power in careers where they have long been cast as second-best. Based on the latest research, tips from successful women across many industries, and experiences from Smith’s own life, Machiavelli for Women is a powerful, entertaining, and inspirational guide for a new generation of successful women.

30 review for Machiavelli For Women: Defend Your Worth, Grow Your Ambition, and Win the Workplace

  1. 4 out of 5

    Hannah

    I had low expectations for this book. I expected it to be a cringey, over-the-top, condescending book that is similar to how Machiavelli is viewed today. Luckily, this is not the case. Smith does an amazing job of pointing out redundancies and traps society has for women. This book is a combination of useful advice and confirmation that you're not crazy with thinking the odds are stacked against you. I had low expectations for this book. I expected it to be a cringey, over-the-top, condescending book that is similar to how Machiavelli is viewed today. Luckily, this is not the case. Smith does an amazing job of pointing out redundancies and traps society has for women. This book is a combination of useful advice and confirmation that you're not crazy with thinking the odds are stacked against you.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Kat

    This was an interesting take on the discrimination women in the workplace face. I think her arguments were well researched and her solutions are presented in a way that is applicable and might actually work.  I appreciated the inclusion of POC and LGBTQIA women and non-binary persons into her discussion.  Overall, this had some really interesting points and I would recommend to a friend.  Thank you to Net Galley for an e-ARC.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Sabrina Brawley

    Get your highlighter ready. In Machiavelli for Women, Stacey Vanek Smith, Planet Money correspondent and host of NPR’s The Indicator podcast, outlines how women can use Niccolo Machiavelli’s philosophy behind his classic The Prince to move up the corporate ladder. While this may seem a bit extreme and counterintuitive to traditional feminine values of cooperation and compassion, Smith argues that in order to beat the game and seize power, women have to learn to play by rules created by men. Smith Get your highlighter ready. In Machiavelli for Women, Stacey Vanek Smith, Planet Money correspondent and host of NPR’s The Indicator podcast, outlines how women can use Niccolo Machiavelli’s philosophy behind his classic The Prince to move up the corporate ladder. While this may seem a bit extreme and counterintuitive to traditional feminine values of cooperation and compassion, Smith argues that in order to beat the game and seize power, women have to learn to play by rules created by men. Smith begins by outlining some pretty depressing statistics that remind us no matter how far we’ve come, as women, we’re still far from achieving an equal playing field in the workforce. In fact, we’ve become so accustomed to discrimination in some instances that we might be surprised by some of her examples, having accepted them as the status quo. Despite her somewhat cynical analysis of the plight of the working woman, Smith draws some pretty astute comparisons to how the average woman can use Machiavelli’s strategic advice for seizing kingdoms to seize a little bit of power in the old nine to five. Much of Smith’s advice may seem counterintuitive and even manipulative, as she guides the reader into modifying behaviors in order to make a point without being interrupted, claim credit for original ideas, or even avoid being underpaid. You’re probably thinking these things should happen naturally without psychological games, and you’re right — in a perfect, unbiased world, they would. However, Smith’s argument (and Machiavelli’s) is that we don’t live in a perfect world and to claim our roles at the top, we have to see the situation clearly, exactly as it is, and work with the weapons we’ve got. We’re in a damned if you don’t, damned if you do situation. Regardless of how you feel about psychological warfare, Smith offers some great advice for negotiation and illustrating your worth, two things women are not accustomed to undertaking. Whether working with difficult clients or difficult bosses, the mannerisms women have been conditioned to adopt often work against us and turn us into doormats. Through Stacey Vanek Smith, Machiavelli’s playbook arms the reader with the confidence and skills to successfully navigate the workforce.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Vincent Pham

    Have been a long time listener to Stacey on NPR podcasts and didn’t realize she was writing a book until recently! Immediately got a hard copy and plugged away for the past week. The book was super informative, full of helpful insights and research, and quite funny! I had several occasions of reading the book and laughing out loud. Although I didn’t get the audiobook, I was able to sense Stacey’s intonation and tone while reading, making it all the more joyful. Will be recommending to more and m Have been a long time listener to Stacey on NPR podcasts and didn’t realize she was writing a book until recently! Immediately got a hard copy and plugged away for the past week. The book was super informative, full of helpful insights and research, and quite funny! I had several occasions of reading the book and laughing out loud. Although I didn’t get the audiobook, I was able to sense Stacey’s intonation and tone while reading, making it all the more joyful. Will be recommending to more and more friends!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Siyun

    Context: I got this book cuz I am a fan of Tracy Venek Smith’s work at NPR where she’s the cohost of Planet Money Podcast. Pros: Practical, tactical advices that might be useful for those who stuck in work environments where women, especially women of color, are treated unfairly. The book is fun and fast pace - stays true with the author’s reporting style at NPR. Cons: depends on where you are in your career stages and trajectory, you might not find this book useful. That’s the case for me. One Context: I got this book cuz I am a fan of Tracy Venek Smith’s work at NPR where she’s the cohost of Planet Money Podcast. Pros: Practical, tactical advices that might be useful for those who stuck in work environments where women, especially women of color, are treated unfairly. The book is fun and fast pace - stays true with the author’s reporting style at NPR. Cons: depends on where you are in your career stages and trajectory, you might not find this book useful. That’s the case for me. One might need to zoom out and take a more holistic view at what you want to achieve in your personal and professional life. Not just climbing the next rung on the ladder Overall, I think it is worth a read. Especially you enjoy witty, no filters writing style.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

    I've been listening to Stacey Vanek Smith for years on NPR and absolutely love her. This book, which I wish didn't have to be written, was witty and pragmatic with great touches of humor. I listened to the audiobook and the author's reading performance was phenomenal. I've been listening to Stacey Vanek Smith for years on NPR and absolutely love her. This book, which I wish didn't have to be written, was witty and pragmatic with great touches of humor. I listened to the audiobook and the author's reading performance was phenomenal.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Alicia

    Questionable statistics, but otherwise an interesting, practical take on a 500+ year old book.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Ann Venkat

    A must-read for all women in mid-level management or above roles. Just like there is a book The Art of War specific to managers, consider this book an easy translation of the book by Machiavelli. Even though Machiavelli tactics are supposed to be cruel methods for power hungry villains, this book is the opposite. It will help you slay the invisible dragons that hold women back in the workplace and accelerate your career. It completely transformed how I was looking at the original book! If you ar A must-read for all women in mid-level management or above roles. Just like there is a book The Art of War specific to managers, consider this book an easy translation of the book by Machiavelli. Even though Machiavelli tactics are supposed to be cruel methods for power hungry villains, this book is the opposite. It will help you slay the invisible dragons that hold women back in the workplace and accelerate your career. It completely transformed how I was looking at the original book! If you are a sensible sensitive, woman looking to balance the nice-girl image with career ambitions (however modest those goals maybe!), then this book will be immensely helpful!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Alyssa

    I was fortunate to receive this book for free as part of a giveaway. I really enjoyed the structure of the book. The information was neatly organized and presented. I found the workplace advice in the book very practical.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Emma

    (I received this book as an ARC from a GoodReads Giveaway.) Given, I read The Prince a year or so ago for political activism research at a friend's suggestion to understand the GOP/Republican Party/Trump supporters (and I live in a Trump-supporter heavy small town in New England), I thought this looked like a nifty read. It's geared more towards women in corporate, tech, and academia, but has a lot of useful tips for the application of Machiavellian strategy to the world of work. The reading is v (I received this book as an ARC from a GoodReads Giveaway.) Given, I read The Prince a year or so ago for political activism research at a friend's suggestion to understand the GOP/Republican Party/Trump supporters (and I live in a Trump-supporter heavy small town in New England), I thought this looked like a nifty read. It's geared more towards women in corporate, tech, and academia, but has a lot of useful tips for the application of Machiavellian strategy to the world of work. The reading is very accessible with a lot of case studies.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    A quick read with tons of advice and words of wisdom for women navigating the workplace. Get out your highlighter.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Lyle Beefelt

    I first became a fan of Stacey Vanek Smith when she was a reporter for Planet Money. With a degree in economics, I’m painfully aware that economics is not always riveting, but Ms. Vanek Smith brought life and excitement to the dismal science like I’ve never heard before. Whether it’s following the production of a T-shirt from the cotton fields to finished product, or oil or toxic assets, Stacey Vanek Smith makes economics exciting. More importantly she shows how economics is really about people. I first became a fan of Stacey Vanek Smith when she was a reporter for Planet Money. With a degree in economics, I’m painfully aware that economics is not always riveting, but Ms. Vanek Smith brought life and excitement to the dismal science like I’ve never heard before. Whether it’s following the production of a T-shirt from the cotton fields to finished product, or oil or toxic assets, Stacey Vanek Smith makes economics exciting. More importantly she shows how economics is really about people. Now Stacey has produced her most important work yet - a careful and thorough explanation of the discrimination and hurdles working women face through the voices of women who have experienced and overcame them. Along with this, she casts a new light on Machiavelli, the ultimate heartless manipulator. Or maybe not so heartless. Machiavelli, as the chief diplomat of Florence, Italy, was the consummate poker player though dealt a terrible hand. When his winning streak came to an abrupt end, he poured his diplomatic lessons learned into a treatise addressed to Florence’s Medici conqueror-The Prince. Ms. Vanek Smith applies Machiavelli’s wisdom to the modern problems facing women in the workplace with her well honed talent for wisdom, wit, optimism and humility. The result is a book that makes women facing workplace discrimination or harassment, basically all working women, feel less alone and better equipped to get their just due in the world of workplace. Why would I, a white man over 60, care about a book on workplace discrimination and advice? Simple. I have two daughters. I have an awesome sister who experienced pay discrimination. I manage women in my job and have reported to women for over twenty years. The discrimination needs to stop so we can all be better and prosper together. Finally, well, Stacey Vanek Smith. She’s just great. Read the book or listen to the audiobook. You will learn and enjoy it.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie Linde

    I listen to Stacey Vanek Smith on The Indicator, so I was happy to hear her conversational style in the audio version of her book. She offers good advice for salary and promotion negotiation, or if you work in a toxic work environment. Chapter 7, which deals with working while mothering, was infuriating to me. To be fair, she prefaces her statements in this chapter by saying that she is not a parent, and that Machiavelli stresses the importance of viewing the world as it is and not as it should I listen to Stacey Vanek Smith on The Indicator, so I was happy to hear her conversational style in the audio version of her book. She offers good advice for salary and promotion negotiation, or if you work in a toxic work environment. Chapter 7, which deals with working while mothering, was infuriating to me. To be fair, she prefaces her statements in this chapter by saying that she is not a parent, and that Machiavelli stresses the importance of viewing the world as it is and not as it should be. The Mommy Hot Box is real. However, advising women to pretend that their children don't exist when they are at work, that parenting should not appear to affect their availability to work all hours, is FEEDING the patriarchal system that created the hot box. This chapter aside, the book offers practical advice with The Prince as a surprisingly sympathetic frame.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Gayle Myers-Harbison

    A self-help book for women based on Machiavelli's advice. I like the author's writing style - it could be described as 'perky'. The book has lots of examples and quotes from successful contemporary women. I could have used some of this advice when I was working! A self-help book for women based on Machiavelli's advice. I like the author's writing style - it could be described as 'perky'. The book has lots of examples and quotes from successful contemporary women. I could have used some of this advice when I was working!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Callie Warren

    A practical, nuanced view of fighting for your own self worth within a broken system. So relatable and often funny to boot. I will be channeling Machievelli when necessary from here on out.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Arleen Joyce

    Awesome read very insightful

  17. 4 out of 5

    Mel

    Great breakdown of Machiavelli with step-by-step items for what women can do in the workplace to change the culture, and their $$$.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Susan Walker

    A book about women and power! I loved all the stories of successful women.

  19. 4 out of 5

    RACHEL

    What a wonderful look at women and power in the workplace. This book is full of insight and advice for all working women. My copy was a gift through Goodreads First Reads.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Mac

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. good

  21. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    Found this book from Gretchen Rubin’s blogpost on 09/09/21 with Stacey Vanek Smith.

  22. 4 out of 5

    M.

    It was a good read.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Pen63

    I will refer back to this for the next decade at least!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kelly McIntyre

  25. 4 out of 5

    Vivian

  26. 4 out of 5

    Nicole

  27. 5 out of 5

    Marie

  28. 4 out of 5

    Katie Holmes

  29. 4 out of 5

    Tika Marconi

  30. 5 out of 5

    Chelsea

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