a) Using examples and references from the main text, articles, and other relevant readings, discuss how prior to the 20th century women in the US became educated, in spite of societal assumptions and expectations about women.

How prior to the 20th century women in the US became educated

b) Using suggested articles posted on Bb (week twelve folder), and/or from your own research, discuss how issues of race, socioeconomic status, or sexuality, disability, further complicate women’s experiences in higher education

Women’s & Gender Studies

Every generation, there is always a minority group that is neglected, and it is always fighting so hard for change. For instance, everywhere you go today you will hear in the news of the gay and lesbian groups fighting for their rights. Prior to the 20th century, it was a larger portion of the population that was fighting: the women. Throughout the 19th century, women in the US fought for equal rights under the law and most importantly the right to access education. It was tough for women to access education due to the fact that they were seen as people who should stay at home and take care of the children (Dyhouse, 2016).

Women and men were expected to take different roles in society prior to the 20th century. Men were expected to lead a public life, whether involved with working in a factory or even socializing with people of the same ideas either in clubs, public places, meetings or even bars (Dyhouse, 2016). Women, on the other hand, were generally expected to live a largely homebound life. Taking care of the cleaning, cooking, and rearing of the children. Women were not supposed to spend free time in social places and were strictly supposed to carry on duties involving Maintainance of the family, from laundry to sewing socks (Davis, 2016).

Davis (2016) says that mainly due to these believes and traditional expectations for women prior to the 20th century, a few number of them had the same opportunities as men to education. Giving a woman education was regarded as subversive, and a violation of the right order of society. On top of that women were not allowed to participate in politics even voting was not allowed. They were grounded to their husband such that they were not considered full human beings at all. Although some female monarchs were experienced some time back, it was always due to the accidental death of the male heirs. Though there were some exceptions, women were purely shut out of education.

Women strived to get an education, and they had to devise means. There was a growing emphasis on domestic instruction and promotion of attitudes of mind which were perceived as the best way of educating future wives and mothers. This affected the whole sphere of education for women. Through different women historians, it has been seen that these practices played a significant role later in the fight for the liberation of women (Nash, 2016). Domestic science as it was called was considered to be a substitute for genuine science. Specialist instructors were developed for household work throughout the whole system of informal education.  Domestic instruction was developed by a few numbers of women who had attained the status of professionalism and a degree of individual independence strikingly at variance with the domestic ideology they were looking to instill into the women.

After few women attained enough education they organized rallies, protests and meeting all over Europe and especially in the United States, with an aim to bring the right of women into the course and public consciousness. Libel minded men and philosophers joined women for they know the value of education. They all pushed their agenda forward (Davis, 2016). Through this agitation, a reexamination between the relationship of men and women and the role of women in society was done. Gradually, these ideas and organizations extended steam. In 1869, the national women suffrage association was established with the main aim of getting women the right to education. Founded by the strong woman Elizabeth Cady Stanton and other vital players in advocating for the rights of the women, Susan B. Anthony, the association also encouraged women to start working outside their homes and interacting with others (Maynard, 2017).

Nash (2016), asserts that socioeconomic status, sexuality. Disability and issues of race complicate the experiences of women in higher education in many ways. The gaps between policies governing these issues and the realities to whoever these policies apply to be vital in the way education are administered. Intersectionality theory was developed so that there can be an understanding of social inequalities such as race, gender, class, and sexuality that focuses on the mutual constitutive natures, posing a potential to reveal the social inequalities. According to Dyhouse (2016), intersectionality is an aspect of critical race theory in education. The intersection roles of race, class, disability, and construction of gender play a significant role in education especially for women in this case.

Maynard (2017), in his article, says that antiracist advocacy movements in the last few years have pointed out the underlying discrimination in the education policies, the pedagogical approaches and the curricular materials that are applied in different levels of schooling and higher education. These policies devised according to racial lines affect education for women. From a structural view, the women express the inferiorization of their identities as related to race, mostly with the ascription of heritage being given to their nonwhite counterparts. This affects to a great extent how women acquire education in a racial environment. Racism remains a primary point of concern in education since it is the central point of oppression in daily situations in schools. Racism is also a crucial component in how well race scholars perceive themselves and their view of other people in the world. Racism is also a point of group cohesion and activism (Davis, 2016).

Negative social comparisons in the lower socioeconomic status groups such as women may complicate their ability to acquire education. Despite the education system being recently expanded, the levels of participation by women and the chances of academic success are still low (Davis, 2016). The disadvantaged and the minority groups that enter the higher education system face a lot of discrimination due to their socioeconomic statuses, and this has scared most of them from attending educational places. This is one of the obstacles that is widening the gap to access to education by women. Although a large number of university entrants has been recorded mainly from the people from disadvantaged backgrounds such as women, few have enjoyed success in higher education due to discrimination based on their socioeconomic status. Whiteness, in socioeconomic basis, represents beliefs and assumptions that put the interest and views of the white people at the core of what is seen as the normal thing in daily living (Dyhouse, 2016). This socially constructed perspective leaves the nonwhites in a situation where they find that anything they do, and it is not in line with what is approved by the whites as something wrong.

Nash (2016), points out that sexual identity disparities in higher learning affect the enrollment and completion of higher education in the United States. Many women experience sexual disadvantages in the achievement of higher education in social environs. This makes the attainment of education to be complex and gendered. Women are socially unprivileged especially during the attainment of education. From adolescent through college, sexual minority groups mostly women need some intervention to reduce substantial educational disparities.

Women with disabilities are painted as a particular picture in society. Their statistics are always presented everywhere making them look like a lesser being. Women with disability are also placed in individual education schools alienating them from the broader community (Dyhouse, 2016). This creates a particular notion of a lesser group in the community painting a complicated picture for them. Through special education, a certain kind of sexual role stereotype is created. This stereotype affects women with disabilities and taking part in higher education. Women with disability are double discriminated as people with disability and as women society. Disability is a socially constructed category that is mostly contested and redefined. Historically, it has been used to define, segregate and oppress women (Maynard, 2017). Disability is a personal matter that relates to a certain identity and the sense of self of a person. Critically, disability is a social construction that is mostly used in remaking oppression and inequality. In the United States, learning disability was fashioned as a tactical move to protect children from middle-class families from any downward mobility through low achievements in school. In other cases, learning disability is used in a negative manner. For women, learning disability used to mean that women were mentally challenged to pursue education. Even after being given freedom to go through education, at higher learning institutions, women are perceived to be unable to partake certain courses due to their disability (Nash, 2016).


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