Gender Knowledge

According to a reported just issued by the Council of Graduate Schools, as of last year women got more Ph.D.’s than men for the first time since these numbers have been recorded. (That’s no longer than about a 100 years, I’d guess.) What more significant, I think, is that women are now poised to play a dominant role in several fields, including “health sciences (70 percent), in public administration (61.5 percent), social and behavioral sciences (60 percent), arts and humanities (53 percent) and biological and agricultural sciences (51 percent).”

Men dominate “mathematics and computer sciences, in which 73 percent of doctorates awarded in the United States went to men; physical and earth sciences (66 percent male PhDs) and business (61 percent).” This is an important landmark, but its meaning will not be clear any time soon and its impossible to predict how this might change research or education agendas. A patriarchal bias underlies much current research, of course. No one studied women’s heart attacks, for example, for much too long becuase it was assumed that men were an adequate model.

The historical and sociological question is whether women will simply correct the historical patriarchal bias or if they will begin to create what amounts to a matriarchy. Feminist history, I think, provides theoretical and practical models for either, and for a wide-range of reasons. That sort of impact is generations away, though. Meanwhile, as long as men dominate business, match, and engineering the partiarchy reigns. I wonder, if, in the long run, the ongoing rise of women will create a society in which these fields, no matter which gender is dominant, no longer matters nearly as much as it once did…

About Ray Watkins

I was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital. I grew up in Houston, as a part of what we only half-jokingly call the Cajun Diaspora. At a certain point during the Regan administration, I had to leave, so I served in the Peace Corps, Philippines, from 1987-89. I didn't want to return to the United States just yet, so I moved to Paris, France, where I lived for three years or so. I then moved back to Austin, Texas, where I had received my Masters Degree, and (eventually) began a Ph.D., which I completed in 1999. I spent a year at Temple University and then accepted a position at Eastern Illinois University where I worked until May of 2006. I now work exclusively on line (although that may change) for Johns Hopkins, the Art Institute Online, and I can be reached most easily via email: raywatkins [that 'at' symbol]

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