Books to Badass: 5 Books to Help You Overcome a Toxic Work Environment

An overbearing a boss. An unbearable white-bro culture.  An idealistic and talented young woman trying to embrace the job of her dreams. How to survive – and thrive – in that toxic work environment is the plot of Late Night, the movie starring Mindy Kaling and Emma Thompson that’s now available on Amazon.

While Kaling’s tale (she’s also the writer) is a light comedy, we’ve all seen art imitating life at some point in our careers.  Check out these 5 books if you’re struggling to overcome the impacts of a toxic work environment.


It was a fight club—but without the fighting or the men. Every month, women would gather in a New York apartment to share sexist-job frustrations and trade strategies for how to tackle them. For years, these meetings were kept secret. But the time has come to talk about the club. 

In Feminist Fight Club, acclaimed journalist Jessica Bennett blends the personal story of her real-life fight club with a studied assessment of the gender gap that continues to plague the American workplace. With equal measures wit and rigor, Bennett provides the tactical strategies—and the camaraderie—every woman needs to fight back, as well as tools for the men who support the cause.


The New York Times bestseller is now completely revised and updated. In this edition, internationally recognized executive coach Lois P. Frankel reveals a distinctive set of behaviors--over 130 in all--that women learn in girlhood that ultimately sabotage them as adults. She teaches you how to eliminate these unconscious mistakes that could be holding you back and offers invaluable coaching tips and advice to help you stop making "nice girl" errors that can become career pitfalls.


Lean Out offers a new and refreshingly candid perspective on what it’s really like for today’s corporate underdogs. Based on both in-depth research and personal experiences, Orr punctures a gaping hole in today’s feminist rhetoric and sews it back up with compelling new arguments for the reasons more women don’t make it to the top and how companies can better incentivize women by actually listening to what they have to say and by rewarding the traits that make them successful.


Ambitious women are scary. In this fast-paced business world, female leaders need to make sure they're not perceived as pushy, aggressive, or competent. In How to Be Successful Without Hurting Men's Feelings, Sarah Cooper, author of the bestselling 100 Tricks to Appear Smart in Meetings, illustrates how women can achieve their dreams, succeed in their careers, and become leaders, without harming the fragile male ego.

Chapters include, among others, "9 Non-threatening Leadership Strategies for Women," "Gaslighting for Beginners," and "How to Be Harassed Without Hurting His Career". It even includes several pages to doodle on while men finish what they're saying. Each chapter also features an exercise with a set of "inaction items" designed to challenge women to be less challenging.


Spirited, whip-smart, laugh-out-loud autobiographical essays from the Emmy Award-winning actress and comedy writer known for 30 Rock, Mean Girls, and SNL. Tina Fey reveals all and proves what we've always suspected: you're no one until someone calls you bossy.

Looking for the best personal and professional development books? Check out our Badass Women’s Book Club Store!

Gina Warner