A Woman's Education

Jill Ker Conway

Read February 2003

The third volume in Conway's autobiographical series. I approached this with great anticipation, but left somewhat underwhelmed. Too much of it reads like a sales pitch for Smith College (where Conway was president for a decade). Conway comes across as an interesting and likeable, if somewhat effete, person. But the book is light on many topics that deserved more attention. She presents only a caricature of the role of a president; there is little insight here for a fellow academic. She is not particularly analytical about her tenure as president; a little more introspection and balance would have been welcome. She also sidesteps some of the trickier questions that revolve around all-female educational institutions. Her views on the politics of the academy resonated deeply with me, and I warmed to her Burkean outlook; but the lack of depth greatly diminished the quality of the book.