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Larisa Golovko

19 July 2013
Prof. Moran

Facing Womens Education

The subject of womens education has been a rocky one since its
inception. Though society in recent years has made great strides in the
acceptance of women having a formal education, we have so much further to go.
The second wave of the feminist movement in the late 60s gave legitimacy to the
idea of women discussing issues facing them and critically thinking about
solutions to common problems in their lives. It helped that womens studies,
sometimes referred to as feminist studies, finally began to gain traction in
academic circles of universities. Being put on the map as a respectable area of
study made it much easier for women to spread awareness of the continued
gender inequality problem in modern American life. Womens education has
historically been a difficult right to claim, however there is still much work to be
done in improving the quality of womens education, fostering equality and
respect in co-educational environments, and increasing opportunities for young
girls to be valuable parts of school environments despite possible socio-
economic setbacks.
Many people in todays America believe that full equality has been
achieved in the sphere of education. Now that women are able to learn the same
things as men and attend the same classrooms as men, whats the problem? To
those people, Feminism has become obsolete because on the surface it appears
that women have the same educational advantages as men, however this is
simply not always the case. Within the exact same classroom, there are many
gender dynamics still at play.
Even in elementary school settings, imbalances exist between the learning
done by males and females, largely due to how both genders are approached by
their fellow classmates as well as teachers. These actions, even when
unintended, serve to encourage the embracing of psychologically crippling
gender roles from a young age (Moran). On a general basis, teachers tend to
approach boys with a sink or swim type of technique, allowing them to learn
from mistakes. With girls, adults are more likely to offer to do something for them
rather than let them learn from experience. This seemingly innocent gap in
techniques plays a large part in the way girls are socialized to only know how to
seek help from others, while boys feel the intense pressure of having to deal with
everything on their own. This is just a single example of how feminism is needed
in order to improve the lives of men as well as women.
Additional proof of the need for feminism lies in the area of higher
education; more specifically, the epidemic of sexual harassment on college
campuses all over the country. According to the American Association of
University Women, sexual harassment is more rampant than some would care to
admit. Some information published in their report includes the fact that female
students are more likely than males to change their behavior after experiencing
sexual harassment (Hill). This goes to show how ingrained it is in womens minds
that our own behavior is the problem that should be remedied rather than the
rudeness of others. Society creates the idea that there are legitimate criteria for
harassment, such as type of clothing, physical appearance, etc. and if you follow
closely to the rigid guidelines set out for you, harassment may be avoided. This
encourages a ridiculous standard for college women and shows that feminism
has its place in the educational sphere.
The growth that womens education has done in recent years is
impressive, however like many aspects of feminism in America, can tend to
casually exclude some women. Women of color and women who deal with
poverty are typically not on the receiving end of feminisms accomplishments
nearly as often as white women and wealthier women (Rich). Being a person of
color in modern America still presents its own hurdles due to lingering racism.
Women of color are consistently told that they will not be able to succeed in
areas where white women have been given some freedom, such as receiving a
higher education, and negative stereotypes continue to play a part in how they
are perceived by society. This lack of societal privilege often equals lower self-
esteem for many women, and in turn discourages them from even trying to
pursue their education.
As well as those race-related setbacks, economic issues play a key role
in the ability of women to claim their education (Moran). Many women are
expected to take on major domestic responsibilities before even completing high
school. This is due to several reasons but high teen pregnancy rates among
impoverished teens is a large one. Girls who are poor but financially responsible
for themselves as well as other family members often face the grim reality of
letting their education go.
Issues such as gender inequality and socio-economic disadvantages do
plague Americas education system for women and feminists will continue to fight
for the right of women to learn and succeed. And until attaining an education will
be just as accessible to women of all ethnicities, racial backgrounds, ages, and
economic standings, we have our work cut out for us. The evolution of womens
education is sure to keep improving. If womens education is a priority in our
society, which it should be, we cannot let discriminatory education policies dictate
the way we want the movement to go.

Hill, Catherine, and Elena Silva. Drawing the Line: Sexual Harassment on
Rep. Washington, DC: AAUW Educational Foundation, 2005. Print.

Moran, Rachel. "Lesson 7 Lecture." Reading.

Rich, Adrienne. Claiming an Education. Womens Voices, Feminist Visions:
Classic and Contemporary Readings. Ed. Janet Lee and Susan M. Shaw.
New York: McGraw- Hill, 2012. Print