Book Reviews

Book by Penny A. Pasque & Shelley Errington Nicholson
Review by Abby Coffin
School of Engineering
University of Kansas

Pasque and Nicholson’s Empowering women in higher education and student affair’s best feature is the experiences shared by the women featured in the book.  From student affairs professional’s mentorship early in her career, to experiences of immigrant Italian American’s, the book expands cultural awareness and competence.  It provides a rich history of women administrators in higher education and provides insight to how the feminist movement aided in where we are today.  It offers practical wisdom for those experiencing barriers in their own career progression and those who may wish to serve as a mentor. 

Empowering women in higher education and student affairs covers the historical perspective of the feminist movement, work life balance, and the potential barriers for women in higher education careers.  It offers a practical approach to better understanding the vantage of women important to the feminist movement.  The chapters covering gender, race and economic disadvantages offer firsthand accounts which add to the interest of the book and makes it easy to relate to.  In a few of the chapters, the authors provide commentary directly from the women interviewed.  One chapter explains mentoring, and a particular woman’s experience with a mentor relationship gone badly which shows true vulnerability.  Several other chapters are much more research based, offering findings from several studies related to issues of women and women of color.  The vantage point of hearing from directors of programs across the country mimics the learning that you would find from a conference or networking event, without the travel or expense.  Especially in areas of running women’s centers or GLBT centers, the insight is particularly helpful. 

The book does fall short for applicability for the average academic advisor working in a setting with a wide variety of students.  It can certainly offer guidance to be applied with some of your students, but it is not an academic advising guidebook.  If the academic advisor aspires to move into an administrator role, it does offer perspective that some may find helpful as they plan and navigate through their path. 

Overall, the accounts of the female faculty and administrators throughout the book are enjoyable and add to the overall learning of the reader.  This book would be an excellent recommendation for young professionals seeking insight for professional development or perhaps even women graduate students.  It would serve as an excellent common book for a women’s studies or higher education leadership course, or even for a circle of colleagues on your campus. 


Empowering women in higher education and student affairs: Theory, research, narratives and practice from feminist perspectives. (2011).  Book by Penny A. Pasque & Shelley Errington Nicholson (Eds.). Review by Abby Coffin.  Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing.  350 pp., $49.95, (paperback), ISBN # 978-1-57922-350-2.

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