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Women as Global Leaders

reviewed by Brenda Marina & Fumane P. Khanare - October 26, 2016

coverTitle: Women as Global Leaders
Author(s): Faith Wambura Ngunjiri and Susan R. Madsen (Eds)
Publisher: Information Age Publishing, Charlotte
ISBN: 1623969646, Pages: 336, Year: 2015
Search for book at Amazon.com

Women as Global Leaders is a refreshing collection which according to Barbara Kellerman, founding Executive Director of Harvard’s Center for Public Leadership, is “as intrepid as is important” (p. x). This text sheds light on the miniscule data on women shaping history in the multidisciplined field of global leadership. In scanning the table of contents, we noted that the editors purposely organized the text by topics to provide a scaffolding for understanding the context of the varied dimensions under consideration. Throughout this text, the editors explore women’s leadership from a global context by providing conceptions and analyses related to women as global leaders. The chapter authors have contributed realities and complexities to increase awareness and opportunities for women around the globe. The editors and many of the contributing authors are leaders of institutions, programs, initiatives, and in many ways breaking ground and glass ceilings on already much debated topics.


Each chapter has a unique and authentic style to resonate with the multiple and collective intelligences of women identifying their space as a leader. The first two chapters are exciting as they are assumed to be “Laying the Groundwork for Women as Global Leaders” (p. 3) and “Women Leaders: Shaping History in the 21st Century” (p. 21), written by renowned contributors who also relied heavily on their previously published work. In contrast, the remaining chapters (3 to 14) are written by authors who neither rely much on their previously published work nor the famous Adler’s and Osland’s work. We found these articles to be of extreme interest, yet only loosely connected to chapters one and two which purport to be laying ground for women as global leaders.


This 14 chapter book is user friendly with intriguing headings and subheadings embedded within. Throughout the text, the readers can note several signposts in the form of endnotes, appendices, primary and secondary sources. Conceptually and/or methodologically, these features add texture and richness while at the same time making it easier not to misrepresent the views of the previous and existing scholars in the body of the text. Adler’s Tables 2.1-2.7 are a compelling and motivating depiction of an increase in the number of women leading at the global sphere. If one or two tables were presented with URL addresses to link to the additional tables, this modification would definitely create a different impact factor for the reader. Tables, figures, diagrams and blog Spots, and sometimes website address are used to promote understanding and/or encourage further reading. However, the quality of some of these illustrations are not as visible to read, e.g. Figure 5.1 (p. 98) and Figure 9.2 (p. 201). Nevertheless, the merits outweigh the demerits in relation to the format of the book. While some authors provided the readers with appendices for further reading, they also leave the reader with some lingering questions and issues. One puzzling feature is Jones’ “appendix on further reading” (p. 303) itself. While academics, especially those interested in women as global leaders wouldn’t deny that Mrs. Thatcher was the first one to chart the critical role for women leaders, one wonders if ‘going back-and-forward’ with her in those particular readings would help a reader understand women as global leaders in a way that supports or relates to the theoretical concepts from Part I and Part II in this volume.


Overall, this book contains excellent, theoretically astute, historical and ongoing accounts of ‘women as global leaders,’ rather than a wide range of views about women’s rights and views of gender and gender formation. While the book is about women as global leaders, there is actually not too much of a collaborated discussion about understanding the dilemmas within, or a collaborative elucidation. There is no final conclusion which weaves all these threads together; the editors do not return to the core aim by way of summarizing earlier points. On balance, the book encourages the reader to keep on reading, thinking and wanting to pursue more research, more engagements, and more reflections, as the chapters nicely complement each other, and collectively give the reader a good sense of the discussions currently taking place about women as global leaders.


In reviewing this text, it compels me (Marina) to continue my quest for mentoring women of diverse backgrounds for leadership. The research presented in the text expands upon my scholarship related to women in academia (Marina, 2015, Marina & Ross, 2016). This text confirms that my passion for attempting to triangulate mentoring, women in higher education, and a global perspective. I am more invigorated to continue with a trajectory that writes into contradictions, clashes with traditional research methodologies, and fully embraces the counterstories that have and will impact global leader behaviors, development, and effectiveness.


What makes this text an interesting volume also makes it difficult to review. To explain, reading this book has prompted my own (Khanare) self-introspection as a teacher, researcher and as a woman living in a society mostly underpinned by beliefs and practices that ravage women like myself. How am I going to contribute to scholarly work that can nurture and enable girls and women in my family, work, and country (South Africa) to be the global leaders they want to be? What Women as Global Leaders demonstrates is that “the journey begins right here, in the middle of the road, right beneath your feet. This is the place. There is no other place, there is no other time” (David Whyte, 1994, p. 27 as cited by Adler, p. 45).


This book is a must read; we (Khanare and Marina) are explicitly in agreement that there is much to be learned concerning our understanding of pursuing and promoting women as global leaders. The editors, Faith Ngunjiri and Susan Madsen achieve their goal of providing a nuanced account in which women can have “…a foundation for [our] own leadership theory building, scholarly research, development activities, and/or improved practice” (p. xx). All in all, we would not go so far as to say that reading this volume caused us to reflect to be better aware of the prejudices concerning women leadership, rather, it has incited us to improve our thinking and practices in promoting global leadership WITH women and men. It is our hope that that the editors and contributors of this text will continue to explore this theme of ‘women as global leaders’ in future writings. We also implore other scholars, leaders, both women and men, to join us in pursuing the provoking leads described in Women as Global Leaders.




Marina, B. L. H, & Ross, S. (2016). Beyond Retention: Cultivating spaces of equity, justice, and fairness for women of color in u.s. higher education. Research for Social Justice: Personal~ Passionate~ Participatory Inquiry Book Series. Charlotte: Information Age Publishing (IAP).


Marina, B. L. H. (2015). Mentoring away the glass ceiling in academia: A cultured critique. Lanham: Lexington Books.


Ngunjiri, F. W., & Madsen, S. R. (Eds.) (2015). Women as Global Leaders. Charlotte: Information Age Publishing).

Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record, Date Published: October 26, 2016
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 21697, Date Accessed: 12/7/2021 10:30:51 AM

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About the Author
  • Brenda Marina
    Baltimore City Community College
    E-mail Author
    BRENDA L. H. MARINA, Ph.D., is an associate dean for the division of academic affairs at Baltimore City Community College. She has served as an associate professor, teaching graduate courses in educational leadership and higher education administration at Georgia Southern University. She recently published books entitled Beyond Retention: Cultivating Spaces of Equity, Justice, and Fairness for Women of Color in U.S. Higher Education and Mentoring Away the Glass Ceiling in Academe: A Cultured Critique.
  • Fumane Khanare
    University of KwaZulu-Natal
    E-mail Author
    FUMANE P. KHANARE, Ph.D., is the head of educational psychology discipline in the School of Education at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. She is involved in teaching and supervising postgraduate students in educational psychology and inclusive education. Her most recent research is exploring how girls’ present socioeconomic status influence the teaching and learning process when issues of HIV and AIDS are involved.
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