The ‘Woman Question’ and Higher Education

The ‘Woman Question’ and Higher Education

Perspectives on Gender and Knowledge Production in America

Edited by Ann Mari May

This uniquely interdisciplinary study offers a provocative, contemporary look at the ‘Woman Question’ in relation to higher education at the dawn of the twenty-first century. Leading feminist scholars from a wide variety of perspectives and disciplines — including history, philosophy, education, psychology, sociology, and economics — evaluate the role of biology, discrimination, and choice in rationalizing women’s exclusion from fully participating in the process of knowledge production, as well as examining institutional impediments. Contextualizing arguments against women’s inclusion and including contemporary perspectives on gender, this book offers a rich, multi-layered examination and critical insights into understanding the near universal difficulties that women encounter as they seek to participate fully in the process of knowledge production.

Chapter 4: The Missing Women in Higher Education: A Case Study of Culture Crossing

Jane Roland Martin

Subjects: economics and finance, economics of education, education, economics of education

Extract

Jane Roland Martin Although the doors that once barred women from higher education are now open, untold numbers of the women who walk through them go missing. In this chapter I explore two aspects of the missing women phenomenon in higher education: the new gender tracking and the attrition of women in the ranks of the professoriate. Documenting the excess mortality and artificially lower survival rates of women in many countries of the world, Nobel Prize-winning economist Amartya Sen has brought to light the worldwide phenomenon of ‘missing women’ (Sen 1990). I do not mean to suggest that the disappearance of women in higher education is as profoundly disturbing as the disappearances that he has detailed.1 I do, however, believe that our understanding of the worldwide status of women can be enhanced by utilizing Sen’s concept of missing women in a variety of ways. I also want to insist that in countries subscribing to the ideal of gender equality, it is a surprising and disturbing eventuality that, once inside the academy’s walls, so many of us vanish. Although the analysis that follows focuses on higher education in the United States, its point of departure is the widely acclaimed lecture delivered in 1959 in Cambridge, United Kingdom by British novelist and scientist C.P. Snow.2 The thesis of Snow’s ‘The two cultures’ lecture was that the intellectual life of Western society was split into two separate, polar-opposite cultures. ‘At the one pole we have the literary intellectuals,’ he said, and...

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