Educational Administration, Department of


Date of this Version


Document Type



Journal of Women in Educational Leadership, Vol 6, No.4-October 2008 ISSN: 1541-6224


Copyright © 2008 Pro>Active Publications. Used by permission.


Review of Through The Labyrinth: The Truth About How Women Become Leaders, Alice H. Eagly and Linda L. Carli, Boston, MA. 2007. Harvard Business School Press, 308 pages.

Through the Labyrinth refutes the two-decade old metaphor of the' glass ceiling,' deeming it to be a simplistic explanation of the barriers that prevent women from attaining leadership positions. The authors argue that women's paths toward advancement are indirect and littered with barriers at various stages in their careers, rather than being hindered by a fixed barrier. To them, a more appropriate metaphor is the labyrinth with its elaborate and confusing twists and turns. The labyrinth "conveys the idea of a complex j ourney that entails challenges and offers a goal worth striving for. Passage through a labyrinth is not simple or direct, but requires persistence, awareness of one's progress, and a careful analysis of the puzzles that lie ahead .... Because all labyrinths have a viable route to their center, it is understood that goals are attainable" (p. x). Eagly and Carli wrote the book to help readers understand leadership and what it will take to achieve equality of leadership by men and women. Their primary audience is women who aspire to leadership positions. Both authors are acknowledged scholars in the study of gender and leadership. In this book, they function in multiple roles-as thoughtful academics, as advocates for women's leadership, and as advisors for women who are on the challenging path to leadership. Dr. Alice H. Eagly is a social psychologist, professor and department chair of psychology at Northwestern University, and a faculty fellow in Northwestern's Institute for Policy Research. She is a prolific researcher in the study of gender, attitudes, prejudice, cultural stereotypes, and leadership. Dr. Linda L. Carli is an associ .. ate professor in the psychology department at Wellesley College. Her research is centered on the effects of gender on women's leadership; group interaction, communication, and influence; and reactions to adversity.