Lang writes second book on leadership

By Page H. Gifford

Fred Lang’s first book titled Leadership Lessons from Great World Leaders came out six years ago. Now, the author has written a sequel to the first book but this time focusing on famous women leaders. The book is titled Courageous Women and Their Leadership Legacies. An instructor in leadership and organizational change, Lang brings forth the strengths of well-known leaders of the past and why their leadership style is important.

“The objective of this book is to inspire and motivate young girls and women to reach deeply into themselves and become the best that they can be. You must believe in your potential, and embrace the greatness that resides within you,” he said. “It doesn’t matter whether you are rich or poor; whether you live in a small town or reside in a large metropolitan area; whether you hold multiple degrees or not at all. If you believe in yourself, you can climb any mountain.”

The book features 13 stories of women, from around the world and throughout history, who faced male-dominated institutions and cultures, and how they broke through these barriers. Among the women profiled in the book are Harriet Tubman, Amelia Earhart, Susan B. Anthony, Marie Curie, Shirley Chisolm, Sally Ride, and Indira Gandhi. It is a diverse group of women with different views and skills, including Eva Perone and Anne Frank.

“The stories are the building blocks of culture and the emerging strength of women to bring success into their lives, and, as a result, make their mark in history.” Lang describes each of the women featured in the book as breaking gender barriers within their career, demonstrating by their example, that these barriers were not permanent unless one allows them to remain.

Many of the fields cited in the book include battlefield nursing, spying, science, physics, astronomy, astronauts and pilots, politics, coaching sports, teaching, newspaper publishing, and others.

The influence of strong societal and cultural norms was the key to keeping barriers in place.

 “Societal and cultural norms, of a generally paternalistic society, have prevented women from being fully engaged on local and world issues in all walks of life. The gender struggle started centuries ago and we are still in a time in which women have not been granted full equality to participate in society and their respective culture,” he said. “It is the 21st century and women, and girls, who live in Afghanistan, and other parts of the world, have been denied their rights to an education and participation as equals in their own culture.”

He explained that each of the women profiled in the book have found the courage to test the limits of the gender barriers that face them in their chosen field.

“Secondly, these women come from different income and cultural backgrounds. If the reader is looking for an excuse to not push forward on barriers, you won’t find it in this book.”

 There are always women we never hear about and lesser known was Cecilia Payne, an unknown scientist who wanted to become an astronomer, but Harvard did not hire women to teach until she ended up teaching there. Perhaps better known as Benazir Bhutto, she was a prime minister of Pakistan and tried to bring democracy into her country after the British government granted them freedom to do so in 1947.

Unlike their male counterparts, women have had to navigate the intersection of gender and power. Their strategies and their persistence were based on their self-confidence and setting out to accomplish their goals. Lang points out that it was “with cooperation and not arrogance,” that these women were able to break down the barriers toward their goals.

“When subsequent generations read their stories, they become empowered in the belief that they can also breach the barriers that they face within their career.”

Along with his co-author Dr. Lucy Franks, Lang said he was amazed at these women and their tenacity, breaking through gender barriers most men don’t recognize in their careers.

  “To understand the contributions made by women, you have to dig deeper into the research to discover how women provided a balanced understanding of events in world history,” he said. “This book tends to make a deeper dive into the historical aspects of the woman showcased in each chapter. Their contributions to their careers, and society, in general, provide a kind of road map for others to follow.”

 His wife, local artist Susan Lang, also contributed to the book with illustrations of these women, similar to what she did in her husband’s first book. For those unfamiliar with what some of these women looked like, Susan Lang brings them to life in her portrait renderings.

 “Portraits are always a challenge. The time spent rendering Anne Frank I found very contemplative. Working to portray her youth, optimism, and courage was the target I hoped to hit,” she said. “The inner essence of a portrait always lies in the eyes. I would read the individual chapter and reference material before starting each portrait, then start with the eyes and develop from that point.”

 Both Susan and Fred Lang will be on hand for a book signing at Jefferson Pharmacy on September 30, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Both books, Courageous Women and their Leadership Legacies and Leadership Lessons from Great World Leaders, will be available for sale.

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