WOMEN OF INFLUENCE, WOMEN OF VISION by Helen S. Astin

WOMEN OF INFLUENCE, WOMEN OF VISION

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KIRKUS REVIEW

 A dry look at late-20th-century feminist leaders in academia, by a psychologist and professor of higher education at UCLA (Astin) and a senior program associate at the Center for Creative Leadership in San Diego (Leland). Inspired by the 1983 Wingspread Conference in Racine, Wisconsin, at which a group of women leaders from diverse fields met to share their observations about the impact of the women's movement on the lives of women, the authors followed up with this study of 77 female leaders in higher education--including university presidents, professors, writers, and activists--and their personal experiences as agents of change. The pool is divided into three categories--predecessors, instigators, and inheritors- -according to the phase of the 1970's women's-liberation movement in which the women initially became involved. Excerpts from the responses describe the evolution of feminist leadership from the inception of the women's movement, when change was believed to be best effected through improved education, through its current sustaining phase, when women leaders use their personal power and political savvy to try to achieve their goals. The results are largely predictable: a passion for social justice--motivated by experiences with Nazis, civil-rights campaigns, or the male- dominated workplace, depending on the era--propelled all three groups of women into action, even if the vehicles counted on for change have not remained the same. Along the way, the feminist experience has fostered the development of a unique style of leadership that emphasizes listening to and empowering others rather than giving orders or hiding behind an intimidating hierarchy of gatekeepers. A meandering portrait whose flat, nonchallenging style detracts substantially from the book's effectiveness.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1991
ISBN: 1-55542-357-4
Page count: 221pp
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 1991