Magazine article Feminist Collections: A Quarterly of Women's Studies Resources

Gender and Women's Leadership: A Reference Handbook

Magazine article Feminist Collections: A Quarterly of Women's Studies Resources

Gender and Women's Leadership: A Reference Handbook

Article excerpt

Karen O'Connor, ed., GENDER AND WOMEN'S LEADERSHIP: A REFERENCE HANDBOOK. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, 2010. (SAGE reference series on leadership.) 1104p. 2 vols. bibl. index. $345.00, ISBN 978-1412960830.

Leadership is an elusive concept, one char does not lend itself easily to pithy definitions or concise checklists. And that's before we throw "gender" and all of its varied meanings into the mix (p. 20). Nevertheless, editor Karen O'Connor has collected 101 articles that examine the many and varied definitions of leadership, demonstrate evidence of women's considerable leadership successes, explore challenges that women have faced in both becoming and being respected as leaders, and profile key personalities, all in this two-volume set.

Many of the articles acknowledge the difficulties in making women's leadership visible, particularly when much of the existing leadership literature focuses on "great men" narratives, on the differences in leadership styles between men and women, and on access to formal structures of power (pp. xiii, 22, 41-42, 356). Despite the variety of voices and topics heard throughout, several common threads emerge: leadership is difficult to define and often depends on context, the criteria historically used to evaluate leaders are masculine in nature, and, while their voices are often muted or silenced, there are a great variety of women in ever-more-various leadership roles.

Like the other volumes in the various SAGE Handbooks series, this is not a reference encyclopedia; readers looking for short blurbs about notable women will need to seek another resource. …

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