Book Reviews

Book By: Carole Hughes and Kristen Renn (Eds.)
Review By: Kathie Sindt, Ph.D.
Krieger School of Arts and Sciences Office of Academic Advising
Johns Hopkins University


 

The career stories of others help us reflect upon our lives and set new goals. This collection of essays provides examples of the choices women face as they progress through their career in student affairs.  The book is divided into five themes: whether or not to pursue a PhD, the influence of a significant other, the role of family commitments, the realities of arriving at our vision of success, and the choice to pursue non-traditional career options. Each theme is introduced by a chapter that reviews how the topic has been addressed by institutions of higher education. These factual additions provide a useful resource for researchers but interrupt the rhythm for those reading the book for the personal stories. 

Two themes are echoed throughout the book: the role of family and the role of advanced degree completion. If one broadly defines family as a significant other, children, immediate, or extended families, then readers will identify with the family circumstances that influence the choices made by the authors. A significant strength of the book is the diverse population of authors. The women represent a wide range of ages, color, sexual orientation, family orientation, marital status, and hold a the variety of jobs; no two stories are alike.

The weaknesses of the book are clearly exemplified in the essays about obtaining a PhD.  Readers must remember each essay is a biographical story, not a tale of universal facts.  For example, the struggles encountered in doctoral programs often are implied to be struggles faced by all students. While difficult times are mentioned, the reader rarely gains insight into how these problems were overcome. In addition there are no examples of the struggles faced by individuals who did not choose to pursue a doctorate or failed to complete their degree . 

In this book, academic advising is not presented as part of the field of student affairs as no stories provide examples of a woman who spent any significant time in the role of an academic adviser.    

Advisors may find it difficult to imagine how their careers might progress unless they venture into the more traditional realms of student affairs. However, if an adviser identifies with one of the themes presented, she may find the book insightful.     

I would strongly recommend this book to women in their twenties who are in the early stages of a student affairs career. The essays illustrating varied career paths, diverse struggles faced, and numerous choices made are easy-to-read and informational.  The combination of factual summaries and personal insights allow a woman to imagine her future in the field of student affairs. 



Roads Taken: Women in student affairs at mid-career. (2004). Book by Renn, Kristen A. and Hughes, Carole (Eds.). Review by Kathie Sindt. Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing, LLC 216 pp. Price: $24.95 (paperback) ISBN# 1 57922 077 0.


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