What Others Are Saying

Take a look at what others are saying about the book and a special forward from Colleen Ammerman and Boris Groysberg from Harvard Business School.

Colleen Ammerman and Boris Groysberg, Harvard Business School; authors, Glass Half Broken: Shattering the Barriers That Still Hold Women Back at Work


In our professional roles at Harvard Business School, we have the privilege of getting to know some of the world’s brightest and most accomplished executives—in the classroom, at various events, and through our research. The authors of this book, who attended the “Women on Boards: Succeeding as a Corporate Director” executive education course at HBS, are glowing examples of the kind of remarkable leader with whom we get to build relationships, and by whom we continue to be inspired. Bonnie Hagemann, Lisa Pent, and their colleagues in the WomenExecs on Boards network came to Harvard Business School to get an education, and they left with a mission to change the world. 

The issue of gender parity in leadership positions is a complex one that deserves rigorous and sustained attention. Both of us are passionate about bringing the insights of gender research to people who can use those lessons to create real change in their companies and in society. Together, we coauthored Glass Half Broken: Shattering the Barriers That Still Hold Women Back at Work (Harvard Business Review Press 2021)with the goal of helping organizations dismantle the barriers that keep women from advancing. With colleagues at HBS, we helped to found the school’s Gender Initiative in 2015, where Colleen serves as director and where Boris is a faculty affiliate. Boris also co-chairs the “Women on Boards” course and teaches an MBA course on gender at work. We’ve authored and coauthored numerous articles and case studies on the state of gender in the workplace and on the career paths of women leaders. The courage, resiliency, and perseverance of the leaders profiled in this volume demonstrate what we have known for years: companies and industries need more women at the top.

Our experience studying leadership and organizations, and working directly with executives to help them develop and foster talent in their companies, has made it clear to us that women who have ascended to senior ranks have a critical role to play in fostering gender equity. The female leaders in the following pages provide inspiration for other women, whether emerging or established in their careers, who too often see very few role models who share their gender. They also provide important insight to all readers, regardless of gender, about the obstacles that women navigate in pursuit of their aspirations. The proverbial ladder of corporate success remains more difficult for women to climb. In the following pages, women who are incredibly successful by any measure are courageous enough to tell the messier parts of their stories—the challenges, the frustrations, and the hurdles they had to overcome to attain the heights they’ve reached. Together, they offer an honest look at the complexities of life and work and what it takes to keep moving forward in the face of adversity. There are lessons to be learned from these career journeys, but perhaps more importantly there is solace to be taken in knowing that everyone struggles—even those who appear to have it all. This book is a call to other leaders to find their inner strength and persevere, and to appreciate that everyone around them has had to do the same. 

“When you make it to the top, turn and reach down for the person behind you.” This exhortation,  often attributed to Abraham Lincoln, is carried out faithfully by the team behind this remarkable book. They have normalized struggle and setbacks for current and future leaders, and in so doing inspired compassion for ourselves and others.  That compassion and encouragement is exactly what women deserve as they grow, rise, and reach for the top.

Colleen Ammerman and Boris Groysberg, Harvard Business School; authors, Glass Half Broken: Shattering the Barriers That Still Hold Women Back at Work

"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.


Our stories have impacted a wide-range of business professionals and have been a vignette for those looking to understand their own struggles.

Inspiring Stories

Women’s empowerment is the single biggest opportunity of the 21st century. Read this book and be inspired by the courageous stories of those who are re-writing the rules of leadership.”

Paul Polman, former CEO of Unilever plc UL (NYSE)  Co-founder and Chair of IMAGINE

Relatable Struggles

As I read the many stories so artfully captured in the Courage to Advance, I could not help but think of my own mothers struggle to succeed as Physician in a Navy town in the late 1960s. Like so many of the leaders profiled in this book, she persevered through countless challenges and setbacks and paved the way for future generations of leaders in the process. One cannot help but be inspired by the courage, humility, and tenacity of the special Women profiled in these stories.”  

Christian Brickman, CEO, Sally Beauty Holdings, SBH (NYSE)

Critical Roadmap

Through telling the stories of these courageous leaders, we reveal the path for others.  Sharing the wisdom from experiences that led these women to step fully into the light of their success, is a gift to the reader and a roadmap for stepping into one’s own power and potential.”

Rebekah E. Dopp, Founder & Chair of Exponent

Inspiring and Engaging

It’s through the power of storytelling that we are motivated and inspired. Here are the stories of some of our top women leaders. The stories contain big lessons in bite-size pieces. Many have a “hard knocks” quality because they are genuine and unsparing. They show courage, resiliency, adaptability, sensemaking, and vulnerability at work. Bonnie Hagemann and colleagues have produced a volume that will have a wide following. The volume should be on the top of your desk, the lessons very much top of mind.”
Ali Ahmadian, CEO, Heliospectra HLSPY (OTCMKTS)

Courage Demonstrated

There is no single background, style or path to become a successful leader. As seen in ‘The Courage to Lead, one often has to overcome challenging systemic and interpersonal obstacles. Through hard work, clarity of purpose, and perseverance we see examples of women who are making significant, positive impacts on people and organizations. An inspiring read with useful words of wisdom for any leader.”

Dr. JJ Walcutt, Scientist, Author and CEO of Clay Strategic Designs, former Director of Innovation at the US Dept. of Defense and former US Democratic Presidential candidate.

Exceptional Women Leaders

This book serves as a wonderful reminder that courage takes many forms. And that the women featured are not just capable. They’re exceptional. If ever there was an assembly of gutsy, talented leaders with inspiring stories, this is it!”
Jordan Rich, WBZ Radio Boston, Host of “On Mic with Jordan Rich” podcast, Author of “On-Air: My Fifty Year Love Affair with Radio

Powerful Reminder

The Courage to Advance is a powerful reminder of the human behind the mask. Every day, we step out of our houses and onto the stage of life, showing the world our best selves, hoping they don’t see the flaws ever-present in our minds and private lives. But it is these so-called flaws and struggles that add color to our experiences and ultimately teach us to be resilient, determined, and successful. The courage demonstrated in the stories of these exceptional women serve as a reminder to us all to aim for the stars, even in the face of adversity.”
Dr. JJ Walcutt, Scientist, Author and CEO of Clay Strategic Designs, former Director of Innovation at the US Dept. of Defense and former US Democratic Presidential candidate.

Riveting Encounters

Women all over the world have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, in what may be the biggest set-back for gender equality in our lifetimes. Stories like these, brilliantly curated by Hagemann and Pent, will be pivotal in galvanising the next generation of leaders. A must read for every aspiring young woman.”

Carmen Ene, CEO of 3stepIT and BNP Paribas 3 Step IT

Inspiring Revelations

Courage to Advance brings the power of story front and center to educate and inspire the next generation of leaders”
Shellye Archambeau, Author of UNAPOLOGETICALLY AMBITIOUS and Board Member for Verizon, Nordstrom, and Roper Technologies

Capturing Hearts

Some may pass over Courage to Advance simply because its title doesn’t seem to resonate with them personally; they do so at their own peril! What’s evident from the start that these are REAL stories that have the power to immediately draw one in and then inspire and then teach! THAT is a combination to lean in to for growth!”
Julie Laulis, Chair of the Board and CEO of Cable ONE.

Clarity Through Storytelling

It’s often through hearing the stories of others that we come to the best moments of clarity in our own. Women leaders are courageous, resilient, fully capable of making sense and success of the world around them. We adapt, and we also lead change. All, with grace, humility, and vulnerability. In this book are thirty-six stories of proof.”
Coco Brown – Founder & CEO, Athena Alliance, Inc.

Powerful and Personal

Courage to Advance is an easy read because it keeps you engaged through the very personal and different  stories which are short but powerful.   It will inspire you to never give up and to achieve your wildest dreams despite the many obstacles along the way. You will take ownership and achieve more than you could have ever imagined!”

Dimitri Panayotopoulos, Board Director and former vice chairman of The Procter & Gamble Company PG (NYSE)

Validating and Encouraging

Finally! A book so validating, so encouraging, that it feels as though I sat through years of life, career, and business lessons from successful mentors willing to bare it all to pave a path just for me.  If you are ready for your head to be full of ideas, your heart running over, and your insides raring to go – The Courage to Advance is for you!”

Nanette Harrell – Independent Fractional Chief Information Officer & former Transportation Executive, at Faneuil, Inc., Savi Tech & GE. 

Achieving Full Potential

There is an old adage that “anything that matters in life is worth fighting for” and Hagemann, Pent and their amazing contributing Board members provide some remarkably elegant advise on how women have overcome societies innate obstacles to achieving their full potential in leadership without selling out on family and work-life balance.  This book really helps our world on a path to gender neutral leadership. The stories told will give you courage, inspiration and the confidence to help you navigate the rocks, stones and jerks in the road. “

Chris Perry | President | Broadridge Financial Solutions, Inc.

Memoir, Guide and Advice in One

The book offers a compendium of advice from truly accomplished women leaders who shine a light on the executive path to success that often is hidden from sight. Part memoir, part guide to business and part life advice should stick to any serious reader who is looking for a path to succeed on their terms.’’

Dr. Anita Gupta, Distinguished Physician, Author, FDA Advisor

Strong Words

A great collection of strong powerful and yet easy-to-read stories from women leading the business to the place it belongs. One of the greatest opportunities for business as infinite game is to have women empowered and this book illustrates such great examples of successful women that said no to the word “giving up”. Value and beliefs are the main stimulants of a quality leadership and this book demonstrates in a humble way through real-life examples how these two factors can help achieving business goals but also contribute to a better world.”
Ali Ahmadian, CEO, Heliospectra HLSPY (OTCMKTS)

A Moving Account

The book presents a moving account of the courage and resilience of these strong women leaders from all walks of life. It is interesting how Hagemann and Pent use vulnerability as a means of inspiring strength in the reader. These poignant portraits will stay with you long after you’ve finished reading.”

Charlotte Dennery, CEO, BNP Paribas Personal Finance, a global Consumer Finance company of 22000 FTE , and member of the Executive Committee of the BNP Paribas Group

Moving Experiences

When you read the stories in this book, you can’t help but be moved and energized by the words and experiences of these fearless women leaders. This book will call you out, lift you up, and help you thrive in your purpose. A great how-to on leadership for those looking to take things to the next level.”

Sherrese Smith, Partner at Paul Hastings and Board Member of Cable One, Norton LifeLock, America’s Public Television Stations

Empowering Leaders

Hagemann and Pent artfully weave together a narrative of empowerment and resilience in share-your-story format. In the spirit of being ‘judged by the company you keep,’ those who read this work are keeping very good company.”
Cathy Benko, NIKE, Inc. Board Member and former Vice Chairman, Deloitte LLP

An Inspirational Roadmap

This is a much needed inspirational multicultural roadmap of how thirty-six stories extraordinary women leaders got to where they are. We need more examples to show to our young girls and emerging leaders of the grit, resiliance, and pure creativity women needed when they came up against the expected norms set by their socities and exceeding them. Simply Inspirational.”
Muna AbuSulayman, Social Impact Investor, Philanthropist and Global Equity Board Member & Advisor for Gucci

"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.