Unmuting Female Voices #nationalbookmonth

It’s #NationalBookMonth in the US and black history month in the UK, so we decided to combine both themes and celebrate books by black female authors within our community. We must continue educating ourselves and use our knowledge and voice to support others.

The gender bias in book publishing is shocking. The result is that female voices, perspectives and experiences are muted. We have fewer published works by women as publishers still refuse to acknowledge or publish women’s work at the same rate as men. 

Sadly, whilst women are likely to read books by both female and male authors, men tend to choose male writers and recommend books by men. Once published, women receive less physical space on shelves and less visibility in prizes and media attention. 

Additionally, black women face racial bias as the publishing industry is 76% white, so non-white female authors have it worse than white women. 

The #WhatPublishingPaidMe campaign on Twitter revealed a shocking disparity in advances and salaries in the sector, which places more value on white male authors and their stories. 

What can you do this month? 

1. Explore your digital or real bookshelf and add some female authors. 

2. Add female authors from minority backgrounds. You can start with the list below – a list of books by contemporary black female authors – brilliant works by fierce women that everyone should read.4. You can also support by simply liking, commenting or sharing this article.


Hood Feminism fights to have minorities addressed and acknowledged within modern feminism and makes it known that black women aren’t just a sassy motif on a T-shirt but ordinary people who are fighting to have their voices heard.

Featuring 20 essays from established and up-and-coming black British writers, Loud Black Girls explores what really matters to black women today.

Expect frank and fearless words from Paula Akpan, Siana Bangura, Candice Brathwaite, Charlie Brinkhurst-Cuff, Fiona Rutherford and Kuba Shand-Baptiste, among others who try to navigate through words what life is really like for black women in a post-Brexit and Trump world.

The Hate U Give is a heartbreaking and powerful narrative detailing the current black experience in America as told through the eyes of a 16-year-old girl. Author Angie Thomas pairs modern-day political references with old-school critical race theory to explain how we got to our current climate and what it will take to rebuild.

What Layla has created here is essential to anyone committed to doing the right thing, regardless of how difficult it may feel. We can not dismantle what we are unwilling to acknowledge. And this book is perfect for anyone who wants to start to build a better society for all. 

In The Urgent Life, Bozoma takes readers through the dizzying, numbing days of multiple griefs and the courage which these sparked in her to live life in accordance with her deepest values time and time again. We witness Bozoma’s journey forward through the highs and the lows as she negotiates life as a woman determined to learn from tragedies to build a remarkable life worth living, even in her brokenness.

Bozoma’s story is extraordinary, but her grief is not uncommon, and her courage is sure to touch any reader who has loved, mourned and is finding a path through loss and grief, as well as anyone who is manoeuvring a pivot and wants to live life to its fullest.

Why do so many of us – particularly women – feel the tech world is beyond reach? Women are woefully under-represented in tech – they represent roughly a mere quarter of the UK STEM workforce. This means an ever-increasing series of big decisions are made by a small number of people, mainly men. So what are the challenges for all of us who want to wrest back control? How do we get past the gatekeepers? When we do, what are the opportunities that will open up – for us in our individual roles and for the future of tech?
Dr Imafidon shows we have more agency than we think, drawing on her own experience and the stories of other pioneers and innovators to provide examples, exercises and practical guidance for how to get started and take control.

Real Wins is an urgent call to action from one of the most influential women in sport. In her unflinching style, Michelle Moore seeks to redress inequality at all levels and shows us how to challenge stereotypes and tired assumptions to transform our experiences and environments.
Through this timely, eye-opening insight into her experiences both on the track and in the boardroom, Michelle shows us how to face our fears, build resilience and find our own unique leadership style. She shares stories from athletes, leaders and many other inspiring people, as she redefines the relationship between identity and success for both individuals and organisations.
Giving you the practical strategies of self-awareness and resilience to run your own race, Real Wins will empower you to take responsibility for your own prejudices, actions and ultimate success.

Demanding More is THE diversity and inclusion book you need to read. Moving beyond HR speak, this book clearly explains what diversity and inclusion are and what it means in the everyday experience of millions of people, both at work and in life. Sheree Atcheson, Global Director of Diversity and Inclusion at Valtech and ex Monzo, draws on her experience as a young woman of colour in an overly white male tech environment; she lives and breathes the issues she writes about. In Demanding More, she calls out the lack of awareness around privilege, unchecked and unconscious biases and details what intersectionality does to feelings of discrimination and disadvantage.

In my book, you will meet a little girl named Viola who ran from her past until she made a life-changing decision to stop running forever.
This is my story, from a crumbling apartment in Central Falls, Rhode Island, to the stage in New York City and beyond. This is the path I took to finding my purpose and my strength, but also to finding my voice in a world that didn’t always see me.
As I wrote Finding Me, my eyes were open to the truth of how our stories are often not given close examination. They are bogarted, reinvented to fit into a crazy, competitive, judgmental world. So I wrote this for anyone who is searching for a way to understand and overcome a complicated past, let go of shame, and find acceptance. For anyone who needs reminding that a life worth living can only be born from radical honesty and the courage to shed facades and be…you.

From Afua Hirsch – co-presenter of Samuel L. Jackson’s major BBC TV series Enslaved – the Sunday Times bestseller that reveals the uncomfortable truth about race and identity in Britain today.
You’re British.
Your parents are British.
Your partner, your children and most of your friends are British.
So why do people keep asking where you’re from?
We are a nation in denial about our imperial past and the racism that plagues our present. Brit(ish) is Afua Hirsch’s personal and provocative exploration of how this came to be – and an urgent call for change.

The book that sparked a national conversation. Exploring everything from eradicated black history to the inextricable link between class and race, Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race is the essential handbook for anyone who wants to understand race relations in Britain today.

This is Britain as you’ve never read it. This is Britain as it has never been told. From Newcastle to Cornwall, from the birth of the twentieth century to the teens of the twenty-first, ‘Girl, Woman, Other’ follows a cast of twelve characters on their personal journeys through this country and the last hundred years. They’re each looking for something – a shared past, an unexpected future, a place to call home, somewhere to fit in, a lover, a missed mother, a lost father, even just a touch of hope.

Build Boldly provides a practical playbook to spark bold, courageous action for growth and leadership that inspires others to rise and be their best.
In this book, Bolane teaches us to be authentic, amplify our uniqueness and have the courage to be ourselves. It opens your mind to new ways of thinking and working, walking through new doors, and seizing opportunities. Leave limiting beliefs behind, bet on yourself and finally act on your career dreams. Develop relationships, be generous and lift others as you make your way to lead boldly, challenge the norm, and create a work environment that nurtures and retains great people.

One week at her mom’s. One week at her dad’s. Not only is Isabella’s life split in half by her parents’ divorce, but also she feels as if her own identity is divided in two. Half-white and half-Black, Isabella’s split custody parallels her split racial identity. Sharon M. Draper’s middle grade bestseller explores Isabella’s need to figure out how a blended girl bridges the gap in a world full of duality. Not nearly as light-hearted as the pink striped color suggests, Blended is a more serious discussion on important topics for kids today – divorce, racial profiling, and blended families. A great explanation of Black Lives Matter for middle schoolers from one of the best contemporary Black female authors.

The international classic and bestseller Maya Angelou’s memoir paint a portrait of a brilliant writer, a fierce friend and a truly phenomenal woman’ (BARACK OBAMA).
‘I write about being a Black American woman, however, I am always talking about what it’s like to be a human being. This is how we are, what makes us laugh, and this is how we fall and how we somehow, amazingly, stand up again’ Maya Angelou.
In this first volume of her seven books of autobiography, Maya Angelou beautifully evokes her childhood with her grandmother in the American south of the 1930s. Loving the world, she also knows its cruelty. As a Black woman, she has known discrimination, violence and extreme poverty, but also hope joy, achievement and celebration.

In Lead from the Outside, Stacey Abrams argues that knowing your own passion is the key to success, regardless of the scale or target. From launching a company, to starting a day care center for homeless teen moms, to running a successful political campaign, finding what you want to fight for is as critical as knowing how to turn thought into action. Stacey uses her experience and hard-won insights to break down how ambition, fear, money, and failure function in leadership, while offering personal stories that illuminate practical strategies.

Luvvie Ajayi Jones is known for her trademark wit, warm voice, and exceptional integrity. But even she’s been challenged by the enemy of progress known as fear. She was once afraid to call herself a writer because she was afraid of the title. She nearly skipped out on doing a TED talk that changed her life because of imposter syndrome. And, as she shares in The Fear-Fighter Manual: Lessons from a Professional Troublemaker, she’s not alone.

In this groundbreaking book by diversity, workplace culture, and career building expert Michelle Gadsden-Williams, you’ll discover how much more useful—and rewarding—it is to cultivate an intentional mindset.

Deeply inspiring and eminently practical, Driven by Intention shows how intention is about so much more than simply setting goals: it’s figuring out why we choose what we want to do and how we get this done in order to seamlessly execute and achieve our passions. Simply put, intention is the “secret sauce” of realizing your vision—at home, at work, or wherever you have passions worth pursuing.

Unstoppable Women by Griselda Togobo is an intellectual must-read. This book features twenty-six female entrepreneurs who reveal tips for starting up, scaling, and exiting their businesses. A must-have guide – filled with business, personal, and well-being information – for aspiring entrepreneurs, established entrepreneurs, and anyone looking for inspiration for their next venture!

Tracy Brown’s Single Black Female is a taut, edgy, deftly spun novel about four friends grappling with the dramatic twists and turns of life, love and what it means to “make it” in America.
Single Black Female highlights the nuances of Black love, the often-tested bonds of Black families, what it means to face the world as a Black man and the joy and pain of being a Black woman.

Filled with hard-won wisdom, hands-on tips, and heartfelt insights, Driven by Intention is a book for impact seekers who want to make a real difference at work, in the world, and in their own lives – on their own terms.

Who have we missed? What books by black female authors will you add to the list?