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September 18, 1992 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 1992-09-18

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The Michigan Daily- Friday, September 18, 1992- Page 5

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Women fstruggle to shatter barriers i higher education

by Purvi Shah
Daily Staff Reporter
It is not unusual that
Engineering senior Chris-
tine Young landed a sum-
mer internship with an in-
dustrial engineering firm.
It is also not unusual
that Young was the only
woman working on the
team -a familiar scenario
which extends to her U-M
engineering courses.
"In high school I never
had a class that was pre-
dominantly one type of
person, and I did have a
couple of classes in fresh-
man year where I was _a
minority,"Youngremarks.
She continues brightly,
"I wasn't discriminated
against. It was just inter-
esting to see the male views
because (class) was pre-
dominantly male."
Across the country, in a
place reminiscent of
Thornton Wilder's "Our
Town," Texas A & M-
Prarieview psychology se-
nior Kathy Harrison con-
templates similar concerns
about the state of women
in higher education.
Almost forlornly, she
relates, "People are apa-
" thetic about women's is-
sues on my campus. We
W don't have a very politi-
cally-active campus. It's in
a small town in the middle
of nowhere"
"My schoolismore ori-
ented towards young
women coming in looking
for husbands," Harrison
asserts, though adding,
quickly this perception ap-
plies more to first-year stu-
dents than seniors. "We
have some very intelligent
women."
At theU-M, Young rec-
ognizes a twin attitude on
the subject of whether
women come to college to
find mates or intellectual
advancement.
"I think there's a fac-
tion of students that be-
lieve (women come to col-
lege to find husbands). It's
not widespread on our camp
says. "I think there's women
do that, and that's fine, bu
think that women should get
tude from other people. The
of negative attitudes in speci
still - 'women become
women aren't engineers.' (E
ing has) always been a predon
male field."
While Young asserts
women have been dis-
couraged from entering
the sciences for the
last 20 to 30 years, seein
she said she is had
happy to be part
of a changing ic
trend. -C
"I've seen in direcu
h my specific classes Ed.
more and more fe-
males being inhe-
grated into them," she
observes. "That's great."
Gillian Bunker, a senior
majoring in biology atBryn
Mawr College, chose yet
another path to deal with th
parity of role models: wo
colleges. While men
HaverfordCollege, down the

from Bryn Mawr,attend cla
constitute part of the facult
women's university in Penns
Bunker said that unlike coed;
women are not "shouted dow
classes because they are the
Bunker says the subjec
discrimination with preferen
ment given to men is a moot
at women's colleges. She
you're in a women's envi
that's not going to happen. It
issue anymore."

" -
o
40 01
1 1
g o oM Ce
1 !! 1 /M

good scientists, since women.
are not supposed to be good
at math or science.
The 1992 American As-
sociation of University
Women's Report validates
Smith's argument, describ-
ing how the American pub-
lic school system short-
changes girls.
According to the report,
"Girls do not receive equi-
table amounts of teacher at-
tention, are less apt than boys
to see themselves reflected
in the materials they study,
and often are not expected or
encouraged to pursue higher
level math and science."
Gender inequity is not
confined to public schools.
In a recent U-M study, As-
sistant Professor of Educa-
tion Valerie Lee and her re-
search assistants Helen
Marks and Tina Byrd dis-
covered that both subtle and
blatant incidents of sexism
are prevalent at even all-fe-
male secondary schools.
Data were collected from
21 non-Catholic independent
secondary schools - seven
all-girls schools, seven all-
boys schools, and seven co-
educational facilities.
In her results, Lee ob-
serves, that in several all-girl
school math and science
classes, "undue attention was
devoted to neatness and
cleanliness, as well as to
drawing parallels between
domesticity and chemistry
activities.... We found what
seemed to be an attempt to
make calculus palatable by
trivializing formulas, math-
ematical language and pro-
cedures. We considered this
a serious example of sex-
role stereotyping - talking
down to girls."
This same concern for
women's educational envi-
ronment has been voiced by
Michele Paludi, the director
of the Women's Studies pro-'
gram at the City University
of New York-Hunter Col-
lege.

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Media give
bad rap to
Ice-T
Souljah
"Freedom of Speech- Just
Watch What You Say."
-Ice-T, Iceberg album cover
During a summer that started
with a riot, saw one presidential
candidate drop out, and another
almost start a war, one of the
biggest controversies was over the
comments of
two record-
ing artists.
Rapper Matthew
Sister Rennie
Souljah
stirred
debate by
stating that
since too
many Black
people were
being killed
by their own
brothers and
sisters, "maybe we should take a
week to kill white people."
Meanwhile, Ice-T's latest album
was lambasted for its track, "Cop
Killer."
Certainly the strong statements
of both warrant response, but the
reaction around the country was
rather disturbing.
Democratic presidential hopeful
Bill Clinton led the charge against
Souljah, putting him at odds with
the Rev. Jesse Jackson. The
mainstream media quickly bashed
Souljah for contributing to the
already-thick racial tension.
Then, the "in-depth" stories
started rolling in, with titles like
"Rap and Politics: America's
Underground Anger" and "The
Rap Culture in America."
Just like that, all of rap music
was defined by two people.
Categorizing an entire genre of
music because of the comments of
two artists is absurd. But dismiss-
ing all rap musicians is more
convenient for the mainstream
press than dealing with each one
individually.
Many country and western songs
contain lyrics about marital strife,
but does that mean every country
music singer is a wife-beater? I
think not.
Nothing Ice-T or Sister Souljah
said demonstrated our nation's
racial problems as much as the
media reaction. This stereotyping
is at the heart of racism, which
judges a group of people by some
superficial quality of a single
individual rather than evaluating
the whole person on an individual
basis.
No one wrote two words about
Ice-T's songs which denounced
drug use and promoted staying in
school over turning to crime. Yet
as soon as he records a song about
the establishment that has perse-
cuted his ancestors for years, his
face is plastered all over page one
like a criminal's mug shot on the
post office wall.
He finally pulled the track after
staffers at his recording company
received death threats from police
officers. Death threats. Who's the
real danger?

Then consider Souljah's case.
All right, she's not going to score
well in the subtlety category. And I
don't think killing anybody is a
particularly good idea, but if
people bothered to take a closer
look, they would have seen some
validity in her words.
Her first contention is obvious:
if Blacks want to achieve social
justice as a race, they can only do
it by working together. So here we
have a person trying to unite a
socially-oppressed group of people
desperately seeking equality.
What a menace.
Her second point was that
society places a higher value on a
white person's life than it does on
a Black person's, and the aftermath
of the incident proved this idea
true. Why did mainstream
America, mostly white, react so
strongly against these comments?
Because it was a threat. No one
cared that Blacks were killing each
other in the inner cities, but now
that someone else could have been
the target, everyone started taking
the issue seriously.
Admittedly, Souljah's phraseol-
ogy set anis-versus-them tone, but
the media reaction amplified it.
These stereotypes must stop.
Sure_ snme Black nennle. ar

)us," she
that still
t I don't
that atti-
re is a lot
fic areas
nurses,
ngineer-
minantly
We wou
ng a tact
Ln't seen
rease of
arol Hol
for, Cen
cation o
e dis-
men's
from
street
sses and
ty at this
sylvania,
schools,
vn" in her
majority.
t of peer
tial treat-
concern
reels, "If
ronment,
i's not an

way they were especially with the
economic state," Harrison states.
"People are trying to have more insti-
tutionalized racism and sexism in the
workplace."
Institutionalized sexism can be
seen in the 'glass ceiling' which is
placed upon women in education,
asserts Linda Callejas, a senior at
Florida International University. The
metaphor of a 'glass ceiling'
vivifies the idea that women
are restricted from mov-

ldn't be.
klash if we
an actual
equality."
lenshead,
ter for the
£ Women

ing up through the edu-
cational pipeline, and
therefore are only able
to achieve the lower
levels in academia -
such as instructor -
but not the higher lev-
els -such as professor.
"In terms of faculty,.

women faculty have big-'
ger problems trying to get
higher. There's a glass ceiling
for women," Callejas says.
"Universities are traditionally
male-oriented. Itis changing,
but slowly. It just makes me work
harder to prove that whatever creden-
tials I have are more important than
my gender or my race."
Judy Touchton, deputy director of
the American Council on Education's
Office of Women and Higher Educa-
tion, explains the clumping of women
in junior level faculty positions with
another metaphor - the glass sieve.
Touchton, who has been working with
the American Council on Education
for 15 years, observes that while
women's access to higher education
has increased, the proportion of se-
nior women faculty has stagnated.
"(The number of women faculty
has) gone up considerably, yet at the
full professor level, it's only 10 or 11
percent and it's been that way for
decades. It is still very difficult for
women to gain full professor,"
Touchton comments. "So it's maybe
a sieve rather than a ceiling. Women
are still concentrated at lower ranks."
Here at the U-M, chemistry Prof.
Bill Evans also notices the dearth of
women professors. "We have women
participating at reasonable levels in

bly disturbing.
"In the sciences women don't ge
recognition for their creative work o
respect for their effort. There's th
older white male inner circle it
academia," Smith declares. "It doesn'
affirm or provide mentors for wome
in education, especially women i
sciences."
U-M Assistant Professor of biol
ogyMary McKitrick supports Smith'
claim, although she feels the Univer
sity has not discriminated against he
for her sex. "The problem with de
tecting discrimination is that it's rar
in academia for it to be overt. It'
gone underground," she states, refer
ring to the same old boys network a
Smith. "As a result women get ex
cluded from a lot of things. Wome
rarely get invited to national sympo
sia."
Like Smith and McKitrick, Evan
also remarks on thelack of camarade
rie and mingling between professor
of different sexes.
"There are things we do as indi
viduals or institutions that tend t
limit women's progress but there ar
also things that women do that ma
unwittingly collaborate in this pro
cess," he argues, pointing to an ob
servation that women tend to tal
mainly with other female professor;
"When men are the dominant grou
in an area, women
should be talking to
men."
McKitrick agrees
that women must
maintain a level of
high visibility in or-
der to succeed.
"At abigresearch
university, it isn't
enough anymorejust
to do good work,
publish it often, and
get grants. You also
have tobe a self-pro-
moter and not wait
for people to read
your work and dis-
coverit's good. You
have to tell them,"
she indicates.
"Women are not al-

thing else. A large part of that is
t probably because these are seen as
r men's fields," she states. "(At Bryn
e Mawr) it helps that the faculty is
n mostly women scientists. ... When
t you're growing up and you see on TV
n that every doctor or scientist is a man
n in a white coat, it helps to see a
woman and think, 'Now that's what I
- want to be when I grow up."'
s Back at home, McKitrick ac-
knowledges that the U-M and the
r National Science Foundation is at-
tempting to rectify the dearth of fe-
e male professors and participants in
s symposia. She says, "I think most
- men would be appalled that theymight
s be discriminating against women.
- Most men would really be upset at the
,n thought."
Bouncing -off McKitrick's claim,
Evans argues that the disparity can be
s decreased by "not letting traditional
- roles of males and females be im-
s posed when those roles have nothing
to do with what we're about."
i- Smith explains the significance of
o past gender roles. "Historically there
e have been roles that women have had.
y The sciences tend to be one of those
- things that women are stereotypically
'- not good at.... They think 'Oh she
k doesn't want to get dirty' or 'She
s. can't carry heavy equipment. It's a
p man's job.'
. .
This is the 1990 composition of
U-M faculty, broken down by
rank and gender.

In an Association of
American Colleges report,
she noted that while improvements
have been made in the classroom in
regards to gender equity, "I think
something that hasn't been looked
into in some detail yet is that while
discrimination on the part of faculty
has been decreasing, peer discrimina-
tion in the high schools and on the
college campuses has been increas-
ing."
PILLARS FOR
THE FUTURE
Despite the persistence of discrimi-
nation at coeducational facilities,
Smith is positive about the future
because she sees the backlash against
women becoming more blatantas less
people are willing to accept it.
"Women are getting a little more
angry- and outspoken about these
things. It's always been there, but
now it's becoming clear," she ex-
plains. "Even in academics, women
are starting to become a little more
persistent about what they want and
what they deserve. Most of these uni-
versities are not accustomed to hear-
ing women speaking out-just a few
troublemakers."
In the same positive vein, Director
of the U-M Center for the Education
of Women Carol Hollenshead points
out that backlash is a reaction to for-
ward movement. She highlights the
progress women have made, arguing
that women applying to Ph.D. pro-
grams are in amuch differentposition
now then they were 25 years ago.
"We wouldn't be seeing a back-
lash if we hadn't seen an actual in-
crease ofequality.... If you look back
25 years, in 1967 access to education
beyond a bachelor's degree was a
serious concern. The proportion of-
women pursuing advanced degrees
was very small compared to now,"K
Hollenshead comments."Some of the
things we take for granted today did
not even exist. Women could be and
were discriminated against and there
was nothing done about it."
But in light of the stagnation of the,
number of women professors she
adds, "That's not to say that we're as.
far along as we want to be. ... (Ac-
cess to the academy) has not been

Women

Men

THP GLASS CEILING
But no matter which educational
path women choose, resentment and
backlash appear to be increasing pro-
portionally as women climb higher
on the walls of the ivory tower.
"I've come across the attitude that
because I'th a woman, I'll get a job
easier andI don't know if that's true,"
Young says, pointing out she was
interviewed and completed the same

i

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