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 4: The Missing Women in Higher Education: A Case Study of Culture Crossing
4. The missing women in higher education: a case study of culture crossing 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....
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