The Mirrored Door

Break Through the Hidden Barrier That Locks Successful Women in Place

Ellen Connelly Taaffe

Unlock what’s blocking your career, and open the door to new opportunity

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.


“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, Ellen Connelly 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.”

​​“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!”

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.”


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.”

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.”

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.”



Ellen Taaffe is an expert in women’s corporate leadership strategies. With twenty-five years in Fortune 500 brand management and now on the Clinical Faculty and as Director of the Women’s Leadership Program at the Kellogg School of Management of Northwestern University, Taaffe uses her vast experience to show you how to burst through to become the best in the business of business.

ISBN 978-1-77458-329-6
$22.95 CAD $18.95 USD
Published October 10, 2023
5.5 × 8.5 248 Pages
Paperback, ebook