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  • Women in Academic Leadership: Professional Strategies, Personal Choices
  • KerryAnn O'Meara, Corbin M. Campbell, and Amy Martin
Women in Academic Leadership: Professional Strategies, Personal Choices. Diane R. Dean, Susan J. Bracken, and Jeanie K. Allen . (Editors) Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing, 2009, 260 pages, $29.95 (Softcover)

Women in Academic Leadership: Professional Strategies, Personal Choices is one of several edited volumes in a Women in Academe Series published by Stylus. Building on the authors' previous work, this volume features a collection of research studies, scholarly essays, and personal narratives on the challenges women faculty and administrators face in attaining, surviving, and thriving in academic leadership roles. Claire Van Ummersen offers a foreword that effectively contextualizes these issues in the recent national landscape of leadership development for women.

Before describing each chapter we observe three unique contributions and perspectives this volume brings to the literature. First, the volume is framed by authors that employ a feminist post-structuralist perspective to highlight barriers faced by women. This lens skillfully reveals in multiple layers how gender inequity is embedded in organizational culture. Second, a major theme throughout the volume is personal agency, a critical lens for advancing [End Page 507] women in academic careers. Third, the book provides rich theories to understand the most intractable problems in the advancement of women but balances theoretical discussions with concrete strategies.

In chapter 1, Eddy utilizes a phenomenological approach to understand gendered constructions of leadership as articulated by current community college presidents. She concludes that we still judge "good" leadership against male norms of success and contends that women are either opting out of leadership positions in an effort to maintain authentic female leadership traits or are shut out of leadership positions because they are not perceived as "heroes." Tarule, Applegate, Earley, and Blackwell (chapter 2), a group of higher education leaders, met regularly to support each other and examine theories about women's leadership. They address four major themes: (a) the power of merging the private-public self; (b) values based practice; (c) nurturing power; and (d) the power of being marginalized. The authors conclude that identifying women's ways of leading may create opportunities for more variety in leadership models. In chapter 3, Sloma-Williams, McDade, Richman, and Morahan use a self-efficacy framework to analyze the impact of the Hedwig van Ameringen Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine (ELAM) Program for women leaders in academic medicine. Despite gains in representation of women in medical school, women leaders in academic medicine remain grossly underrepresented. The authors briefly discuss various "off ramps" of the leadership track before focusing on how self-efficacy could be an "on ramp" for women leaders. They provide insight into enhancing sense of agency among aspiring women leaders.

Wood's chapter 4 highlights the barriers to women's advancement in faith-based institutions, the change efforts currently underway, and recommendations for future reform through an organizational and cultural lens. Faith-based institutions comprise over half of nonprofit, private institutions in the U.S. and have unique, often male-dominated, norms and values. This chapter discusses the cultural, ideological, and theological beliefs about women's leadership roles in both the church and society at large. In chapter 5, Sullivan (a Latina and former community college president) examines the learning strategies of 6 women community college presidents utilizing the American Association of Community College's Leadership 2020 report and Leading Forward project. Sullivan found that the learning needs and strategies of the women she interviewed match the competencies outlined as part of the Leading Forward project. Similar to the other authors, Sullivan asserts that gender stereotypes remain a part of the community college culture and suggests that both men and women need to combat and address them.

Dean's chapter 6 provides breadth to our understanding of who mentors and mentees are and specific strategies for how mentorship can contribute to the success of women academic leaders. The quantitative results indicate that most women chief academic officers have been mentored at some point in their career but mentoring rates varied by institutional type, age, years of service, and race. Sotello Viernes Turner and Kappes (chapter 7) examine the perception of 17 women of...


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