Girls Who Run the World: 31 CEOs Who Mean Business

Book review by
Regan McMahon, Common Sense Media
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Inspiring profiles of women who started their own companies.

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The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Shows what it takes to run a successful business -- including bouncing back after mistakes and mishaps. Includes profiles of women in a wide variety of industries, almost none of whom kids will have heard of.

Positive Messages

As author Diana Kapp says in the introduction, "the tools you need to invent world-changing things are the tools you need for life: doggedness, heart, community, faith, and a stash of candy for emergencies." "Don't wait. Go run the world." Every profile includes a "Business 101" piece of advice at the top and practical tips highlighted in the text. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

All the successful women in Girls Who Run the World are positive role models who share the ups and downs of their business experience, lessons learned, and have encouraging things to say to kids about believing in themselves and their ideas, working hard, and never giving up. The group of 31 CEOS includes women of various races and sexual orientations.


It's a book all about businesses, so brand names are mentioned.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

One CEO lists as her "Guilty Pleasure: Dirty Martinis (my wife is coming out with a new gin)."

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Diana Kapp's Girls Who Run the World: 31 CEOs Who Mean Business offers profiles of successful women who run their own companies in a variety of fields, including the tech industry, fashion, food, science, makeup, media, construction, and more. It also includes a "Business Survival Kit," how to write a "very preliminary business plan," and a chapter on finances. This would be an especially good choice for business-minded teens and budding entrepreneurs.

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What's the story?

GIRLS WHO RUN THE WORD: 31 CEOS WHO MEAN BUSINESS offers lively, brief profiles of successful women who had a fresh, creative idea and through hard work, determination, and belief in themselves made it a money-making reality. Each profile features a dynamic, stylized color portrait of the woman and starts with easily digested notes on the woman, her business, and her background, highlighted with headings "Her Business," "Very First Job," "As a Kid, What I Wanted to Be When I Grew Up." Then there's another quirky category or two that differ from bio to bio, such as, "Worst Subject in School," "Favorite Childhood Book," or "My Bedtime." At the top of each profile is "Business 101," a bit of advice from that CEO. For example, Katrina Lake, founder and CEO of Stitch Fix, the mail-order personal shopper business, advises, "Re-imagine something outdated and uninspired." And each profile has a couple of tips highlighted in the text, such as Spanx Founder and CEO Sara Blakely's advice: "Carry a pocket-sized notebook to log ideas on the go!"

Is it any good?

This lively, thorough collection of CEO  profiles offers heaps of inspiration and many practical tips about how to succeed in business. Its clear, attractive design highlights ideas, advice, and insider secrets that kids can can take to heart, whether they're thinking of starting their own business, organizing a movement, or running for student council. The information in Girls Who Run the World: 31 CEOs Who Mean Business is so solid, it would be valuable for adult entrepreneurs, too! Discussions of a business plan, market size, competitive advantage, economies of scale, angel investors, venture capital, cash flow, interest and principal on a loan, and information on how to file a patent may seem more geared to college-level readers than middle schoolers and teens. And the Science section includes sophisticated concepts like DNA mutations, genetic code, and gene-editing.

Middle schoolers and high schoolers may be particularly interested in products or businesses they've heard of, such as Pop Sugar, Spanx, Stich Fix, and Bare Minerals. But most of the women and businesses here don't have brand-name recognition. Still, all of the success stories are interesting.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the different businesses described in Girls Who Run the World: 31 CEOs Who Mean Business. Had you heard of any of them? Can you see yourself going into any of the industries described here? 

  • What's the most important idea you found in Girls Who Run the World? How can you use that idea in your daily life and the things you aim to get done? What surprised you the most in the CEOs' stories?

  • Do you have a dream of running your own business some day? What would it be? 

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love stories of strong girls and women

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