Molding Me in Their Image

Molding Me in Their Image

Romney S. Norwood (Georgia Perimeter College, USA)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 16
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-5942-9.ch011
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This chapter examines how the paternalistic nature of academia shaped the author's development as a graduate student and as a young professor. Overcoming the oppression of a paternalistic culture is challenging for any woman, but even more so for women of color who are assumed to need even more steering, shaping, and molding. It is ironic that the discipline in which the author chose to pursue advanced studies, sociology, is a discipline that has a core goal of examining and challenging inequality. This, however, does not make it impervious to perpetuating inequality. This chapter examines how long it took to take control of shaping the author's own image and to learn to navigate a culture that is still heavily influenced by patriarchal standards.
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The Initial Shaping

Twenty-three years ago, I left my home base in metropolitan Atlanta to pursue graduate studies in sociology. I really had no idea what I was embarking upon. Only a few people in my family had attended college. There was no one in my family with graduate-school experience. Other than teachers, I didn’t know anyone personally who had embarked on the path I was about to take. Looking back on this time, I struggle to recall what made me think pursuing an advanced degree in sociology was the path for me. Ultimately, I think it was a combination of being raised in a family that always valued my intellect, treating me as an expert to be consulted on many matters; and falling in love with a discipline that lent itself to advanced training opportunities. I had just graduated from Boston University (BU) with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism, and somehow I got the idea that I was supposed to be an authority or expert in something.

During my time at BU, I added sociology as my second major, but I was two electives shy of the required credits to receive the two degrees. I graduated with a minor in sociology, having fulfilled all of the required courses for that major, but not interested in prolonging my stay in college. Thus, I was on my way to becoming an expert. I knew that to assume my status as expert, I would need to go to graduate school. During my time at BU, I met a young woman who was pursuing her master’s degree in journalism. She was taking the same course that I was taking as an undergraduate. I thought to myself, “Why would anyone pursue an advanced degree in journalism? There is nothing else that they can teach you about how to be a good journalist in graduate school that they did not already teach you as an undergraduate.” From that moment on, I knew that if I went to graduate school, it would be to pursue sociology. Three years later, that is what I did.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Cultural Relativism: Judging other cultures by their own standards, not the standards that apply in your culture.

Role Exit: A strategy employed to eliminate a role when one has too many roles associated with a specific status.

Paternalistic: Controlling or limiting the actions of others in an overbearing manner, seemingly for their own good.

Role(s): The action(s) performed for a status or position that a person holds.

Role Strain: When one has too many roles associated with a specific status.

Resocialization: A process in which the values and beliefs that one has been conditioned to understand and believe in are recalibrated and redefined.

Structural Equation Modeling: A multivariate statistical technique that combines multiple regression analysis and factor analysis to analyze structural relationships.

Patriarchal: Pertaining to a social system where men hold the dominant positions and power.

Urban Sociology: The study of life and human groups in metropolitan areas.

Ethnocentrism: Evaluating another culture based on standards that apply to one’s own culture.

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