The ‘Woman Question’ and Higher Education Perspectives on Gender and Knowledge Production in America
Perspectives on Gender and Knowledge Production in America
Edited by Ann Mari May
Chapter 3: Gender, Professional Knowledge, and Institutional Power: Women Social Scientists and the Research University
3. Gender, professional knowledge, and institutional power: women social scientists and the research university1 Mary Ann Dzuback Although US universities in the early twentieth century oﬀered the promise of meritocratic entry into the academic profession via the graduate training they provided, they did not fulﬁll that promise for women. Most women who trained for the PhD in social sciences—the focus of this chapter—and who remained in academia could only ﬁnd positions in colleges. There they pursued scholarship, teaching, and service, the three central activities of the professional scholar, but found themselves restricted by the expectations of large teaching loads, limited resources, and lack of opportunity to train graduate students in these largely teaching institutions. Yet even in these environments, women social scientists created thriving careers, pursued research, located ﬁnancial support for their research, and in the end transformed the colleges to be more receptive to faculty and student scholarship. In contrast, the few women scholars who were hired by universities as teachers and/or scholars had to negotiate carefully these institutional cultures, which were not by and large hospitable to women researchers, in an eﬀort to obtain the recognition and support their male counterparts routinely received. The focus of this chapter is on women who, in the 1920s and 1930s, did make a place for themselves as researchers in American universities, how they accomplished this, and what they accomplished. I use four institutional cases to examine women’s strategies within particular institutional cultures and historical contexts. The...
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