Review: Not Just Lucky

Not Just Lucky: Why women do the work but don’t take the credit by Jamila Rizvi
Published by Viking Press on 3 July 2017
Pages: 303
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
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Australian women are suffering from a crisis of confidence about work. Accustomed to being overlooked and undervalued, even when women do get to the top, they explain their success away as ‘luck’. But it’s not. Not Just Lucky exposes the structural and cultural disadvantages that rob women of their confidence – often without them even realising it. Drawing on case studies, detailed research and her own experience in politics and media, Jamila Rizvi is the warm, witty and wise friend you’ve been waiting for. She’ll give you everything you need to start fighting for your own success and for a more inclusive, equal workplace for all. (She’ll also bring the red wine.) This unashamedly feminist career manifesto is for women who worry they’ll look greedy if they ask for more money. It’s for women who dream big but dread the tough conversations. It’s for women who get nervous, stressed and worried, and seem to overthink just about everything. It will help you realise that you’re not just lucky. You’re brilliant.

This is a book that has been out for awhile, but I’ve only just gotten around to reading (it’s been sitting on my bedside table for at least three months. I left it there in the hopes that I’d be inspired to pick up a book and actually read, for I have been in a reading slump of late). To be honest, I’d never heard of Jamila Rizvi before picking up this book, but some of my favourite media personalities – Zoë Foster Blake, Clementine Ford, Rosie Waterland – were telling me to read the book. So I read the book (eventually). If you are highly susceptible to endorsements (as I am), it also has Julia ‘I will not be lectured about sexism and misogyny by this man’ Gillard and Lisa Wilkinson (rightfully) singing its praises.

Rizvi specifically states in the introduction, ‘the entirety of this book might not apply to you… take from it what is helpful and applicable to your life and leave the rest of someone else.’ I think that Not Just Lucky will be most beneficial to recent graduates and women who are just starting out in their careers. While Rizvi acknowledges that a lack of confidence and doubting yourself is not a trait exclusive to women, she does focus on the gendered nature of our society and how that impacts the workforce. There was a lot of information about the challenges women face in the workforce, the root of these problems, and how women can navigate the workplace and build relationships with other women.

The tone of the book is quite conversational, as if you were sitting down to afternoon tea with a good friend. There’s a quality about it that’s very readable, and Rizvi managed to hold my attention even while breaking down statistics and studies to explain inequality in the workplace. If you are looking for a feminist manifesto that seeks to change the system, this book is not for you. Rizvi gives women tools to survive the system and work it to their advantage. She points out that traditional workplaces were built for men, and encourages women to network with other women and to pull one another up. It was refreshing to read a feminist work that focused on the collective rather than the individual. One of my favourite parts of the book was when she talked about Ian Chubb amplifying her voice as a student at ANU, and the idea of ‘sponsoring’ other women in their careers.

Not Just Lucky is a written pep talk that reminds you that you didn’t get to where you are by luck – you got there through hard work. No one should diminish that, not even you.


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