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The Mirrored Door

Break Through the Hidden Barrier that Locks Successful Women in Place

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ISBN10: 1774583291
ISBN13: 9781774583296


248 Pages


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At some point in their careers, many women encounter the mirrored door—the place where, when presented with opportunities, we reflect inward and hesitate, and deem we’re not ready or worthy enough to move forward, whether that is to raise our hands or go for the next role.
But there is a way to break through, and to overcome the gendered expectations that girls and women internalize over our lifetimes that create a hidden barrier that keeps us from reaching our full potential.

Drawing on research, stories from her own career, and those of her students and the mid-late career women she has coached, Professor Ellen Taaffe explains why the five perils of success—being prepared to perfection, eager to please, trying to fit the mold, pushing too hard, and patiently performing and expecting rewards to follow—get us to a certain level, and then may prevent our taking the next step in our careers as expectations rise. She offers a new, empowering framework for navigating the challenges of the workplace with more awareness and expertise.

With a firm grounding in research, Taaffe teaches us about the realities of the workplace, how it influences perceptions of women, and what we can do to overcome the distorted self-reflections that ultimately hold us back.

A former Fortune 50 senior executive turned board director and professor, Taaffe is on a mission for women to have more seats and voices at the table of workplace decisions. In The Mirrored Door, she guides us to assess ourselves and our situations realistically so that we can take charge of our career success and take the lead in our lives.


Praise for The Mirrored Door

"The Mirrored Door is an insightful self-help book that exposes, and enables pushing past, the particular barriers that women in business face."Foreword

“Ellen Connelly Taaffe’s image of the ‘mirrored door’ brilliantly and accurately describes women’s tendency to second-guess themselves when they bump up against barriers at work. Gazing into that mirror and asking, ‘Is it me?’ can paralyze us and make it difficult to take action. Ellen’s work is a powerful corrective to the endless focus on ‘imposter syndrome,’ which pathologizes self-doubt rather than offering a path forward. In this wise and humane book, she shows how women can address the internal barriers most likely to hold them back. Highly recommended!”—Sally Helgesen, bestselling author of How Women Rise, Rising Together, and The Female Advantage

The Mirrored Door is an inspiring guide for women looking to advance in their careers. Ellen Connelly Taaffe outlines the external and internal biases that lead to women getting stuck in their jobs. Through engaging stories, she offers frameworks and advice on how to move past these obstacles and create the future we all want.”—Deepa Purushothaman, author of The First, the Few, the Only

The Mirrored Door is a must-read for career-minded women who aspire to more. Ellen Connelly Taaffe connects insightful research, shares engaging stories, and thoughtfully reveals what might have once worked but could now be in the way. This book informs and inspires women to take charge of their careers.”—Dorie Clark, Wall Street Journal–bestselling author of The Long Game

The Mirrored Door is the book that every female leader—of all ages and stages—needs to read. If you have ever struggled in your career, this book will provide you with valuable insights to identify and overcome the challenges that are preventing you from achieving the success that you want. Ellen Connelly Taaffe is a kind, wise mentor who provides you with the road map you need to create the future you want. I wish I had this book when I started my career.”—Tricia Montalvo Timm, board director, former general counsel at Looker, and author of Embrace the Power of You

The Mirrored Door is a terrific primer for career-oriented women to create their own successful path, navigating through the systemic biases that women face in today’s workplace. It’s a compelling blueprint by former business executive and current professor, Ellen Connelly Taaffe.”—Carter Cast, clinical professor of entrepreneurship at the Kellogg School of Management and author of The Right—and Wrong—Stuff

“Be the protagonista! That’s what practitioner-turned-professor Ellen Connelly Taaffe teaches women (and any leader who wants to sponsor women) how to do with her splendid storytelling and actionable advice. Ellen describes herself as the ‘professor full of doubt,’ but there’s no doubt about this book: if you want to shatter the glass ceiling, you’ll open The Mirrored Door. This book belongs alongside Sally Helgesen’s How Women Rise—welcome to the canon of literature sure to inspire the next generation of women leaders.”—Whitney Johnson, CEO of Disruption Advisors and Wall Street Journal­–bestselling author of Smart Growth

“Ellen Connelly Taaffe cleverly focuses on the one thing any woman can do to power her career: burst through the self-created ‘mirrored door’ that often holds us back. This book is a compelling manual for banishing self-doubt and grabbing your desired and deserved future!”—Gena Cox, PhD, executive coach, speaker, and author of Leading Inclusion

“Ellen Connelly Taaffe brings a depth of knowledge and breadth of personal experience to every page. All women, regardless of career stage, will see themselves more clearly and be better equipped to step through the ‘mirrored door’ after reading this book.”—Laurie Weingart, coauthor of The No Club

“While women often say they experience self-doubt and imposter syndrome, Ellen Connelly Taaffe’s excellent book points out that the system—through ingrained biases and outdated work practices—is designed to make us feel that way. She offers ways that each of us can pivot our thinking away from self-blame, and, through a series of journal prompts, gives readers a chance to reflect on how they can have a healthier relationship to work and achievement.”—Sarah Kaplan, director of the Institute for Gender and the Economy (GATE) at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management

The Mirrored Door opens up the conversation for all women who are seeking to grow professionally and personally, no matter their stage in life. Ellen Connelly Taaffe generously shares her life and professional experiences while weaving in research-based evidence and the stories of women who navigated male-dominated corporate cultures while discovering their own gender biases that are so deeply ingrained in each of us. This book is an enlightening and practical guide for all women who seek to leverage their talents and power—and make a difference wherever they land.”—Tammy Gooler Loeb, award-winning author of Work from the Inside Out

The Mirrored Door is like having a caring, wise mentor show you the ropes of how to navigate the workplace and take charge of your own career and life. I wish it had been around for me to read at several different points in my career.”—Anne Lester, former managing director of JPMorgan Asset Management, board director, speaker, and author of Your Best Financial Life

“If you lead women or are a woman, you must read The Mirrored Door. Ellen Connelly Taaffe has brilliantly written an inspiring, yet practical leadership book that is sure to become a go-to guide for aspiring and experienced career women and their allies. Through storytelling, research, and personal experience, she reveals what holds women back and what we can do about it. I wish I had it earlier in my career. Highly recommend!”—Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, vice chair of external affairs at Royal Caribbean Group, former CEO of Celebrity Cruises, board director, and author of Making Waves

"Taaffe blends research, professional expertise, and personal experience in a concise examination of women’s self-doubt in the workplace."Kirkus Reviews

“This incisive, inviting guidebook surveys the challenges high-achieving women face in the workplace and shares fresh advice for navigating obstacles both inner and outer . . . With welcome nuance about the complexities and varieties of workplace experiences, Taaffe lays out techniques for women to knock at [the mirrored] door rather than wait to be invited in . . . Throughout, Taaffe blends striking insights . . . with inspiration, practical takeaways, and engaging storytelling.”Publishers Weekly