Education as Social Institution: Understanding Her-Story

Education as Social Institution: Understanding Her-Story

Mary Kirk (Metropolitan State University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-786-7.ch006
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Abstract

Education is another of the primary social institutions from which we learn the values, attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors of a dominator culture. A discussion of education as a social institution embraces: (1) how we come to know (epistemologies); (2) the methods of teaching and learning (pedagogies); and (3) what we know, the content of our knowledge tradition. In Chapter III, I explored some ideas about epistemological barriers to women in IT education related to our philosophy of science. For example, some scholars have argued that since more women tend to be concrete learners, and more men tend to be abstract learners, women may be less comfortable with the abstract approaches that predominate in science and IT education (Belenky, 1986; Estrin, 1996; Goldberger, 1996; Greenbaum, 1990; Keller, 1992; Kramer & Lehman, 1990; Riger, 1992; Rosser, 1995; Turkle & Papert, 1990). In Chapter IX, I will address questions of epistemology and pedagogy in more depth as I propose a partnership model of education. In this chapter, I would like to focus on the third issue, that is, the content of our knowledge tradition. This chapter explores: (1) our incomplete knowledge tradition; (2) a brief her-story of women in math, engineering, and IT; and (3) the ins and outs of women’s education and employment in these fields.
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Objectives

This chapter aims to help you understand the following:

  • How our knowledge tradition has been influenced and limited by those who were able to participate in its creation.

  • That there have been educated women who generated ideas and inventions for centuries in spite of their exclusion from systems of formal education.

  • A brief her-story of some of the women who have contributed to scientific and technical knowledge creation in spite of the many barriers they faced.

  • How the historical legacy of women’s intermittent access to and exclusion from scientific and technical education (and the professions) influences women’s participation in science and technology today.

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Our Incomplete Knowledge Tradition

The Western knowledge tradition reflects the dominator social system from which it has emerged. Education as a social institution purveys the message that only certain people have accomplished anything and only certain perspectives are “worth” learning about. The disciplines and their “ways of knowing” were created by a group of people whose circumstances and experiences of their world were not reflective of the broader population. Therefore, the questions considered relevant for study, the proposed methods of study, and the content of today’s academic disciplines are the result of a narrowly informed set of perspectives. “Other groups, with a different set of experiences—in this case, women—were largely excluded from the identification of problems and the creation of disciplinary knowledge and tools of analysis” (Bucciarelli, 2004, p. 138). The histories that we record, the literatures that we consider classics, the disciplines that we consider important, the ways in which we come to know, and the ways in which we teach and learn originate from giving primacy to a singular set of perspectives for centuries. This has led to the development of an incomplete, and perhaps even distorted, knowledge tradition.

Complete Chapter List

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Table of Contents
Foreword
Riane Eisler
Preface
Mary Kirk
Acknowledgment
Mary Kirk
Chapter 1
Mary Kirk
One barrier to more people understanding the work of feminist scholars is a fallacious view of “feminism” that has transformed an entire area of... Sample PDF
Demyth-ifying Feminism: Reclaiming the “F” Word
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Chapter 2
Mary Kirk
Dualisms are a hallmark of dominator societies, and dualistic thinking is a deeplyembedded attitude that shapes our values and beliefs. The... Sample PDF
Dualisms and Stereotypes: Tools of Domination
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Chapter 3
Mary Kirk
This chapter explores the ways in which the dualistic notion of gender is at the core of many fundamental ideas in the philosophy of science. The... Sample PDF
Gendered Philosophy of Science: Science is Male, Nature is Female
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Chapter 4
Mary Kirk
Communication is generally understood as a two-part process consisting of messages that convey content and the interpretation of that content by the... Sample PDF
Mass Media as Social Institution: The Wired Example
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Chapter 5
Mary Kirk
Language as a social institution is the primary symbol system through which we teach/learn about our dominator culture. The assumptions, values... Sample PDF
Language as Social Institution: The Male-Centered IT Culture
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Chapter 6
Mary Kirk
Education is another of the primary social institutions from which we learn the values, attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors of a dominator culture. A... Sample PDF
Education as Social Institution: Understanding Her-Story
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Chapter 7
Mary Kirk
The global IT business as a social institution reflects the same dominator values as other social institutions in the U.S. Since IT is a large and... Sample PDF
Business as Social Institution: Global Issues in IT
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Chapter 8
Mary Kirk
In Chapter IV, I discussed how language operates as a social institution to teach us the values, attitudes, and beliefs of our society. Our... Sample PDF
Partnership Language and Media: Creating a New IT Culture
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Chapter 9
Mary Kirk
Ultimately, creating lasting and long-term change in the participation of women as developers, users, and beneficiaries of technology necessitates... Sample PDF
Partnership Science and Technology Education
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Chapter 10
Mary Kirk
In Chapter VII, I asked how our knowledge about the dramatically unequal distribution of global income combined with the estimates on global... Sample PDF
Partnership Global IT Business
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Chapter 11
Mary Kirk
This book has offered one feminist’s perspective on how a deeper understanding of our dominator social system might clarify why women are... Sample PDF
A Concluding Pledge: With Technology and Justice for All
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