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A Woman's Education Paperback – November 12, 2002


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A Woman's Education + True North: A Memoir + The Road from Coorain
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 143 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (November 12, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679744622
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679744627
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.3 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #379,252 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Conway's goals and visions as the first female president of elite Smith College during an era in which many women's institutions were going co-ed are the focus of this plainspoken and gracefully written third volume of her memoirs (following The Road from Coorain and True North). When Conway, then age 39, took the helm of Smith College in 1975, she knew that her determination to make Smith competitive as "an avowedly modern feminist institution" would be a difficult challenge. In addition, she faced the disapproval of most of the entrenched senior male faculty, as well as academic infighting and tensions between the faculty and the board of trustees. She is candid about the problems in her decade there, revealing as well her own misgivings and vulnerabilities and the stresses of her personal life. Learning quickly that she had to be a political strategist, mediator and fundraiser, Conway took as her main mission the need to convey the liberalizing qualities of single-sex education for women seeking to develop their identities. Despite alumnae criticism of the strong lesbian presence at Smith, she was also outspoken in her passionate defense of gay rights as a fundamental feminist issue. Yet she also records her intellectual differences with much of the ideology of the feminist movement. There are poignant passages, when Conway describes her "losses" and her husband's accelerating manic depression, but the main thrust is her forceful argument about the superior ability of women's colleges to liberate students from the shibboleths and constraints of the male-dominated point of view prevalent at most other institutions. Whether or not readers agree with her analysis, they will respond to her high ideals, courageous spirit and humanistic philosophy. (Oct. 29) Forecast: The Road from Coorain created a core audience for Conway that goes well beyond Smith alumnae and feminists. Whether this more focused and cerebral book will attract an equal number of readers is an open question, but Conway's articulate presence on talk shows during her eight-city tour could move a sizable portion of the 40,000-copy first printing.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

Conway continues the story begun so elegantly in The Road from Coorain, recounting her first tempestuous years as Smith College president.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
5 star
60%
4 star
27%
3 star
0%
2 star
13%
1 star
0%
See all 15 customer reviews
Boys you will also love reading them as well.
Jessica A Bruno (waybeyondfedup)
This book provides great insight into the critical components necessary for the education of women and their preparation to make valuable contributions to our society.
CeciliaE
Part of the book is about what she sees as goals for women's education and also some history of women's education.
Jean

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 30, 2002
Format: Hardcover
It is a rare gift to be able to write an autobiography that is so smart and engaging, keeping the reader entranced and wishing the book would go on an on. Conway has this gift (as she did with her first two memoirs). This book should be required reading in all college courses dealing with the subject of women in higher education. Conway laid the foundation for Smith to have the phenomenal endowment it enjoys today all the while keeping its superior academic and intellectual standards intact. In an engaging account she delves into her memories and gives the reader an in-depth view into her history-making experience as the first female president of Smith as well as her personal battles (and triumphs) along the way. This book is a gem.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Julia Kulla-Mader on May 30, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This is the most thought-provoking book in Jill Ker Conway's series of autobiographies. While the first book centered heavily on Conway's emotional development and the second book dealt mainly with her intellectual development, in the third book she describes her changing world and academic perspectives. In A Woman's Education, Conway really challenges her readers to think critically about how women should be educated, the role of a private women's college, and ultimately what it means to be successful as a female.
A previous reviewer mentioned that they felt like they were reading a textbook while reading A Woman's Education. While this book definitely has a more academic tone, it does not resemble a textbook in any other way. Instead, reading through A Woman's Education, feels a lot more like being in an intimate college class taught by Conway.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 27, 2003
Format: Hardcover
If you are involved as a university alum in one or many of your alma mater's boards, directorates, planning committees and/or fund raising campaigns, you will find it fascinating to learn from Ms. Conway what it was like from her perspective to head a major US college for ten years. It doesn't always happen that such a dynamic academic leader is also a talented writer--and takes the time to write a book about it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Wanda B. Red VINE VOICE on June 5, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It's true that Jill Ker Conway's emotional response to major and challenging life-events (her mother's death, her husband's physical and psychological illness) is muted in this third volume of her autobiography. That feels appropriate and even moving to me. Conway took on a position as the first woman president of Smith College that required her to develop a strong public persona and to put aside for the decade of her leadership the inner person. This effort came at some cost to her, she explains, and she takes the steps that she can (for instance, building a weekend retreat with a restorative garden) to preserve her private self and develop authentic friendships, but the position she held exacts a penalty, and that becomes clear in this slim volume. As she comments in pondering the sadness and disillusionment that followed upon her mother's death, "The disjunction between private and public experience was a persistent puzzle.... My face was indubitably toward the rewards of midlife, but at the edges of my consciousness I could see the shadows lengthening." The need to reconnect with her private self, while there was still time to reflect in writing on her experience, is ultimately what led her to retire from her leadership role.

It seems appropriate, then, that this book would focus on the academic battles Conway had to fight to move Smith forward and on the challenges to women's education that the college faced during the transitional years for feminism of 1975-85 (the years of her tenure as president). In a gracious but confident voice, she is a wonderful guide through this unique experience. In fact, it is the strength of that tone that also leads to my only dissatisfaction with this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Annette Miller on May 25, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Having read The Road to Coorain and loved every minute of it, I immediately downloaded A Woman's Education in order to continue the story. My son-in-law has recently been appointed to a position at Smith College so I now have a lovely background to its founding and development
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Wendy Hick on May 5, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The third book in Jill Ker Conway's memoir series, and we loved all three!
A remarkable woman, who achieved many things over so many areas of life.
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Format: Paperback
A Woman's Education" is a magnificent treatise on how to be a President of a college. It is a primer (and I don't mean to under rate it by using that term) on how to become and serve as a college president as well. It is also a remarkable inside view of a marriage of professionals which goes through all of the blessings and trials of a man and woman trying to coexist with one another. But this couple does much more than coexist . Over time they have hammered out a tender and loving give and take which is all the more amazing given the high powered positions that each of them occupies.

This is a book worthy of emulation by all who seek to govern and administer an institution of higher learning. Men and women. It depicts a woman who forges ahead and brings her talents to bear both on the administration and student body with intellectual vigor and genuine humility. It is an odyssey of a strong willed individual willing to negotiate the high seas of the academy always willing to admit that there is always something new to learn, and that the process of learning never ends. As time passes within the academy there are always new disciplines to learn and acknowledge, so that the institution remains relevant to an ever changing world preparing students to deal with all of the challenges that humankind faces.

It is a portrait of a woman who is honest with herself about her own limitations and strengths, in setting goals within the academy and pursuing them with the strength of her convictions. All of this is done with the self awareness that not everything one wants to accomplish will be achieved. That one must choose wisely among disparate, and at times, competing goals knowing that success is not always the only outcome.

This college president does not suffer fools gladly, but is willing to listen to all who make their case in an informed manner. The presidency she describes is a collegial one. She does not rule by fiat.
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