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Nan Crystal Arens
Iva E. Deutchman
Christopher Gunn
Jack D. Harris
Steven Lee
Jo Beth Mertens
Scott McKinney
Renee Monson
Deb Steward
Michael Tinkler
Jinghao Zhou


Centennial Leadership Reading List

We asked faculty members to suggest texts they believe are pivotal in the study of women and leadership.

Interested in adding to the list? Send an e-mail with your name, occupation, contact information and suggestion to

Nan Crystal Arens
Chair and Associate Professor of Geoscience

Reason for Hope: A Spiritual Journey
by Jane Goodall and Phillip Berman (Warner Books, October 2000)

I have admired Jane Goodall since I was a little girl paging through National Geographic. She, along with Louis Leakey's other protégées Dian Fossey and Birute Galdikas, broke the gender barrier in field ethnology. Even today Goodall's work and methods are the gold standard in the study of primate behavior. Moreover, she inspired me to consider a career in field science because she showed that a woman could do good work under difficult conditions. However, Goodall's real leadership has come more recently in her work and writing on environmental sustainability and conservation. She has writes and speaks tirelessly on the need to protect our world and all its creatures. Her grass-roots organization "Roots and Shoots" is a major force for environmental education world wide. It is a quiet kind of leadership. Leadership by example. What I love about this book is that Goodall describes her life as a spiritual journey. Her work and leadership in environmental education and preservation is an outgrowth of her deepest soul. In telling her story in this way, Goodall encourages us all to find our true inner selves and work from that point of greatest strength.


Iva E. Deutchman
Chair and Professor of Political Science

The two best websites are:
1) The Center for the Study of American Women in Politics. It has every piece of data you could want (How many women serve in the state legislature in Mississippi?) and it has history (of the franchise, of women in office, etc.). 

2) The Carrie Chapman Catt Center at Iowa State. It provides, like CAWP, history and current data on women in politics in the U.S.


Christopher Gunn
Chair of Professor of Economics

Freedom Is Not Enough: The Opening of the American Workplace
by Nancy MacLean (Harvard University Press, January 2006)

This book tracks the intersection of the civil rights and feminist movements, and the conservative backlash against them. MacLean provides a sweeping and stimulating rethinking of our economic, social, and political history over the past 60 years. Students in my course The U.S. Economy: A Critical Perspective (Econ. 232) will be reading the book this fall (along with 5 others). I trust they will learn a good deal about their country from it--I did! My hope, of course, is that MacLean's book will lead to stimulating classroom discussion and serve as an excellent resource for course papers. 


Jack D. Harris
Professor of Anthropology and Sociology

I often think about the contexts within which women and men live, the obstacles women face as leaders, and the need to understand gendered behavior in both the workplace and at home. Two of the best books that examine the interaction of women and men in these arenas and echo the likelychallenges to our women and men students are:

Talking from 9 to 5: Women and Men at Work
by Deborah Tannen (Harper Paperbacks, September 1995)

The Second Shift
by Arlie Hochschild and Anne Machung (Penguin, April 2003)


Steven Lee
Professor of Philosophy

My favorite text on the issue of women and leadership is Plato's Republic, especially book 5, where Plato presents one of the earliest arguments for female equality. Specifically, Plato, through the character Socrates, who represents his views in the dialogue, argues that women can be guardians, the leaders in his ideal society. Guardians must be highly intelligent and courageous, and possess other positive characteristics as well, and Plato argues that these characteristics are distributed in women as well as men. To get the best leaders, society should make use of both women and men who possess these characteristics. Plato argues that the natural differences between men and women are not relevant to their capacity to occupy leadership positions in society. It has taken us more than 2000 years to slowly come around to this conclusion ourselves, and we are not quite there yet.


Jo Beth Mertens
Assistant Professor of Economics

As I was thinking about “Women and Leadership,” I realized that as I was growing up and during my college years, I was inspired by biographies, autobiographies, and memoirs of women who, at the time, I thought of as “strong.” These were women who were well-educated and who forged non-traditional paths for themselves. I think of them as trailblazers. I found their stories inspiring, heartbreaking, and outrageous. And I often found myself angry as I learned of the many injustices they endured. I believe it is important that their legacy not be forgotten. Here is an abbreviated reading list.

Twenty Years at Hull House
by Jane Addams (Signet Classics, 1999)

Democracy and Social Ethics
by Jane Addams (University of Illinois Press, 2001)

Jane Addams and the Dream of American Democracy: A Life
By Jean Bethke Elshtain (Basic Books, 2002)

Understanding Lillian Hellman
By Alice Griffin and Geralding Thorsten (University of South Carolina Press, 1999)

By Lillian Hellman (Back Bay Books, 2000)

An Unfinished Woman: A Memoir
By Lillian Hellman (Back Bay Books, 1999)

Scoundrel Time.
By Lillian Hellman and Gary Wills (Back Bay Books, 2000)

Lone Woman: The Story of Elizabeth Blackwell, The First Woman Doctor
By Dorothy Clarke Wilson (Little, Brown and Company, 1970)

The Road from Coorain
By Jill Ker Conway (Vintage Books, 1990)

Written by Herself Autobiographies of American Women: An Anthology
By Jill Ker Conway (Vintage Books, 1992)

Living My Life, Volumes I and II
By Emma Goldman (Dover Publications, 1970)


Scott McKinney
Professor of Economics and Chair of Latin American Studies

These are testimonies of indigenous women in Latin America, who from positionsof poverty, oppression and powerlessness worked against theodds to improve the lives of their people.

I, Rigoberta Menchu: An Indian Woman in Guatemala
by Rigoberta Menchu (Verso, June 1987)

Let Me Speak! Testimony of Domitila, a Woman of the Bolivian Mines
by Domitila B. De Chungara (Monthly Review Press, June 1979)


Renee Monson
Associate Professor of Sociology and Coordinator of the Public Policy Studies Program

Feminist Organizations: Harvest of the New Women's Movement (Women in the Political Economy)
edited by Myra Marx Ferree and Patricia Yancey Martin (Temple University Press, May 1995)

This edited collection of essays and case studies provides a portrait of a wide range of feminist organizations and grass-roots movements in the U.S., Canada, and Australia. It is particularly useful for its coverage of the class and ethnic diversity of the landscape of feminist organizations and movements, and for its examination of which political strategies and organizational structures are more and less effective for achieving social change.

I would also recommend the website for the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. Heidi Hartmann founded IWPR in 1987 and remains its president. IWPR is well-known and well-respected for the rigorous, cutting-edge, women-centered, policy-oriented research it does on poverty and welfare, employment and earnings, work and family issues, health and safety, and women's civic and political participation. IWPR researchers frequently are asked to testify before Congress on these issues.


Deb Steward
Director of William Smith Athletics

Reach for the Summit
by Pat Summitt (Broadway, March 1999
Swimming to Antarctica: Tales of a Long-Distance Swimmer
by Lynne Cox (Orion Pub Co., May 2005)

The Women's Sports Foundation supports girls and women in sports through leadership programs, grants and scholarships.

The Tucker Center is affiliated with the University of Minnesota. It is a research center that examines how sport and physical activity affect the lives of girls and women, their families and communities.

Women in Higher Education's mission is to enlighten, encourage, empower and enrage.

Jeff Janssen, a sport psychologist, offers excellent leadership materials and programs to help build leaders.

Catalyst Women's mission is to expand opportunities for women and business.

National Association of Collegiate Women Athletics Administrators is an association that supports, mentors and empowers female athletic administrators. It's also great networking organization.


Michael Tinkler
Associate Professor of Art

Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179) – abbess, author, musician, mystic – was one of the most dynamic women of the 12th or any other century. She entered the religious life as a child, founded a monastery for women, corresponded with many of the most important people of her time, wrote music for her nuns, and recorded her visions as guidance for them. She has recaptured the interest of readers in the 20th century and given material for an amazing array of medieval music recordings. Hildegard helps my students in Women and Art in the Middle Ages (Art 229) overcome their preconceptions about women’s lives and educations in the Middle Ages.

Hildegard of Bingen: Scivias
by Mother Columba Hart, Jane Bishop and Barbara Newman (Paulist Press, August 1990)

Voice of the Living Light: Hildegard of Bingen and Her World
Edited by Barbara Newman (University of California Press, September 1998)

Hildegard von Bingen: Canticles of Ecstasy
Composer: Hildegard of Bingen
Performer: Cologne Sequentia Ensemble for Medieval Music and Benjamin Bagby
(BMG Classics, 1994)


Jinghao Zhou
Assistant Professor of Asian Languages and Cultures

The subject of women’s studies is one of the most important aspects of Chinese studies. I believe that women’s liberation is at the core of Chinese women’s studies. It has been debated whether the slogan of Chinese women’s liberation is still valid in present-day China. Both books The Unfinished Liberation of Chinese Women, 1949-1980 by Phyllis Andors (Indiana University Press, 1983) and Revolution Postponed: Women in Contemporary China by Margery Wolf (Stanford University Press, August 1986) address this issue and argue that the Chinese women’s liberation has not finished. In order to make a comparison between Western scholars’ view and the Chinese government assessment on the status of Chinese women, it is worth reading “Gender Equality and Women's Development in China,” issued by Information Office of the State Council of the People's Republic of China in August 2005.

If Chinese women’s liberation remains critical, who is responsible for Chinese women’s oppression? Popular Western and Chinese opinion has put blame on Confucianism. The following books examine the relationship between Chinese women’s status and Confucianism from different perspectives. They are The Inner Quarters: Marriage and the Lives of Chinese Women in the Sung Period by Patricia Buckley Ebrey (University of California Press, December 1993), Sharing the Light: Representations of Women and Virtue in Early China by Lisa Ann Raphals (State University of New York Press, August 1998), and Teachers of the Inner Chambers: Women and Culture in Seventeenth-Century China by Dorothy Ko (Stanford University Press, November 1994). It should be noted that Women and Confucian Cultures in Premodern China, Korea, and Japan edited by Dorothy Ko, JaHyun Kim Haboush and Joan R. Piggott (University of California Press, August 2003) tries to correct the simplistic opinion and give credits to Confucianism in the development of Chinese women in education and employment.

Regarding the issue of how to achieve a full liberation of Chinese women in communist China, it is necessary to pay attention to two groups of thought. The first group holds the liberal idea that Chinese women’s liberation should rely on Western feminism; the second group holds the Chinese official ideology that women’s liberation fundamentally relies on Marxism. How have Marxism and Western feminism influenced Chinese women’s liberation? The following books discuss the role of feminism and Marxism in the women’s movement in China. They are:

  • Feminism and Socialism in China by Elizabeth Croll (Schocken, May 1988);
  • Rosa Luxemburg, Women's Liberation, and Marx's Philosophy of Revolution by Raya Dunayevskaya (University of Illinois Press, August 1991);
  • Women Under Communism: Family in Russia and China by Paul Chao (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., January 1977);
  • Chinese Feminism Faces Globalization (East Asia: History, Politics, Sociology, Culture) by Sharon R. Wesoky (Routledge, December 2001); and
  • The Question of Women in Chinese Feminism by Tani E. Barlow (Duke University Press, April 2004)

My book Remaking China’s Public Philosophy and Chinese Women’s Liberation: The Volatile Mixing of Confucianism, Marxism, and Feminism (Mellen Press, 2006) attempts to examine Chinese women’s liberation from a comprehensive perspective and argues that Confucianism is not the source of women’s oppression, Western feminism is not a panacea to women’s liberation, and Marxism cannot be the guiding principle of the Chinese women’s movement. To achieve the ultimate goal of women’s liberation, it is urgent for Chinese women to increase self-consciousness of women’s liberation and promote an independent women’s movement to fight for women’s rights in every aspect of Chinese society by focusing on five keys of women’s liberation.

China has been experiencing a profound transformation. Chinese women’s liberation and the Chinese women’s movement are not separated from the changes of Chinese society, but shaped and being shaped by the current Chinese social momentum. The following Web sites are helpful in understanding the interaction between the Chinese women’s movement and the progress of Chinese society in a global context:

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