Book Reviews

Book by Maike Ingrid Philipsen & Timothy B. Bostic
Review by Rayna A. Isaki
Academic Advisor
Manoa Advising Center
University of Hawaii Manoa
Honolulu, HI


Achieving a successful career in academe no longer means faculty having to put the rest of their lives on hold. In Helping Faculty Find Work-Life Balance: The Path Toward Family-Friendly Institutions, Philipsen & Bostic (2010) review issues and provide recommendations to help faculty find a healthy balance between their professional and personal lives. Data and recommendations are based on two studies of both female and male faculty from diverse American institutions. Each chapter explores the main events that faculty encounter in both work and life: establishing a career, having life partners, becoming parents, and seeking advancement in academe. Also included is current research, suggested programs and policies as solutions, and strategies implemented by exemplary institutions.

Two main strengths of the book include research diversity and exemplary institutions. The study that the book was based on was diverse in institutional, gender, and professional stage variables. Information is more generalizable since faculty was from an array of institutions including “public, private, research intensive, elite, liberal arts, comprehensive universities, and a community college” (p. xxi). Next, previous literature on faculty work-life balance focused on the female perspective but this study provides thorough insight into challenges of male faculty. Thirdly, not only did the study elaborate on diversity in institution and gender, but also with faculty in various stages of their professional career- early, middle, and late. This allows comparisons of work-life balance issues according to faculty generation.

The second strength of the book is highlighting exemplary institutions that excel in accommodations for faculty work-life balance by providing special programs or services or implementing certain policies. This provides aspiring institutions with ideas and proven-effective strategies to possibly replicate. Cost-effective solutions are also explored and this is especially beneficial since most institutions face economic restraints and budget cuts. A resource section provides links to policies from exemplary institutions as a reference for policymakers.

Despite strengths in research diversity and exemplary institutions, the book’s weaknesses include solutions not for faculty implementation and issues mostly for instructional faculty. Although the book provides recommendations for faculty work-life balance, majority of the recommendations are geared towards implementation by institutional administrators and policymakers. Strategies are not tangible where faculty members can perform them on their own. Secondly, issues addressed in the book are mostly those faced by instructional faculty and less by academic advisors without teaching responsibilities. For example, advisors without instructional responsibilities feel less pressure to conduct research and publish studies.

As an early career faculty member I found this book useful in sharing the experiences of other early-stage faculty members. It also provides valuable insight into what can be expected as faculty advance to mid and late stages of their career. This book is useful to advisors and other faculty by providing guidance in achieving success in both professional and personal life.


Helping faculty find work-life balance: The path toward family-friendly institutions. (2010). Book by Maike Ingrid Philipsen & Timothy B. Bostic. Review by Rayna A. Isaki. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 216 pp. Price $40. ISBN 978-0-470-54095-4
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