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The Glass Wall by Sue Unerman and Kathryn Jacob: Book Review

Copy of The Glass WallI was ecstatic when Profile Books contacted me about a book they were publishing called The Glass Wall: Success strategies for women at work – and businesses that mean business by Sue Unerman and Kathryn Jacob. I had heard a lot about the glass ceiling, and am a big advocate of smashing it, but the glass wall wasn’t a term I had heard before. The book claims that “Even when there is no glass ceiling … there is instead a glass divide, a glass wall.” The aim of The Glass Wall is to “give you practical techniques to smash the glass walls and to take the senior position that you have earned“. It definitely sounded like my kind of book.

The book is divided into seven chapters: ambition, creativity, cutting through, trouble, resilience, anger and karma. There is a little chart at the beginning that allows you to answer questions and work out what chapters would be most relevant.

Ambition is the first chapter and a topic I am very passionate about (that is why I run the ultimate book club for ambition women – PropelHer’s Book Club). The book discussed the idea women start off ambitious, but “two years into their career women’s goals ‘fall off the cliff’”. This was the first time I had heard that statistic and I thought it was interesting one. It explains why so many women ‘settle’. Women are loyal, get comfortable in the job and their ambition decreases”. However, the authors state that women need to “Ask for what you want; ask for what you need”. Too often women are not vocal about their wants and needs, which results in them not being fulfilled.

Overall, they state that “ambition is not something to avoid; it’s something that you must define for yourself”. Being ambitious will mean different things to different people. The key is not to run away from the world because society says it is dirty for a woman to be ambitious.

There is the strong idea in the book that we can learn a lot. You can learn how to be confident, how to be resilient, learn from failure and “learn how to cut through”. The point is clear. These skills that support people to excel in the workplace can be learnt. It is possible for you to learn the necessary skills and turn your life around.

Managers and mentors are discussed and the book states that “great people management is rare”. This is a sad, but honest, fact. So many people are managers when really they can’t people manage. Therefore, it is important an individual learns to manage upwards as this “is the key to keeping you and your career in the focus of your boss”. With regards to a mentor the suggest is that “you find a mentor who has nothing to do with your past or even your present”.

Part of the role of the book is to highlight the rules of the workplace. This is particularly important because you need to “understand the rules before you break them; don’t knock them over accidentally and pay the price”. Through the book Sue and Kathryn are attempting to educate you to ensure in future you aware of the rules and so can make a purposeful decision to break them if necessary.

The lesson from the book is that “a point comes when being good at your job is simply not enough”. Women need to know the rules of the work, self-promote, ask for the raise and much more.


Overall, I enjoyed The Glass Wall. Sue and Kathryn have created a wonderful tone of voice and provide useful tips (not always conventional). What I particularly liked about this book was at the end of each chapter there was a summary and it would clearly identify strategies for women to use and then strategies for company/those at the top to use. They know for the glass wall to ever completely fall there will be a responsibility with the worker and the head of the company. It was also refreshing to read a book from a UK perspective, although there are lots of references to other countries too.

Want to know more about The Glass Wall buy a copy for yourself.

Do you believe there is a glass wall? Leave your comments below.


Charelle Griffith

Charelle is book-loving Marketer, Success Coach and Founder of PropelHer. Charelle is passionate about personal development and blogs about non-fiction books. She also runs PropelHer's Book Club - a non-fiction book club for ambitious women.

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