|Title||Feminism and Pragmatism: Change toward a More Inclusive Philosophy of Higher Education|
I begin with a quotation from Virginia Held, taking this as a point of departure: “Few feminists identify ourselves specifically as pragmatists, but perhaps most of us could offer more support for pragmatism at its best than most pragmatists realize.”1 Though a passing remark, Held has raised an intriguing question. Could feminism and pragmatism offer to each other mutual support? Do they already? And if the philosophies can be demonstrated to be compatible, what are the possible gains in philosophy particularly and—especially for women—through change in higher education generally? I survey pragmatists Charles Peirce, William James, and others, though I concentrate on John Dewey. Similarly, I include feminists Carol Gilligan and Charlene Haddock Seigfried, though the schema suggested by Mary Field Belenky, Blythe McVicker Clinchy, Nancy Rule Goldberger, and Jill Mattuck Tarule,2 and as built on William Perry, provides a critical focus. In turn, I crosstabulate a feminist epistemology, taking one-way tables based on Belenky et al. and Ann Stanton, and overlaying the educational philosophy of Dewey. Important in shaping my dissertation is Shulamit Reinharz: “In feminist research … the problem is frequently a blend of an intellectual question and personal trouble.”3 What makes my “problem” concrete is a recent Columbia University study documenting significant gender imbalance among Ph.D. graduates and tenured faculty.4 Further, many feminist researchers, by their own admission, define problems but stop short of developing solutions. In contrast, I lay groundwork in feminist, pragmatist, and educational philosophy, describe a “femisophical” approach, and sketch a School of Womens Studies and Research. In addition, I point to two fruitful and already existing models, the Consortium of Academic Health Centers for Integrative Medicine and and Liberal Education and Americas Promise . I conclude that feminism and pragmatism are, indeed, compatible and mutually supportive. I substitute translate for transform , however, as a more constructive key to instituting change toward a more inclusive philosophy of higher education. Further, I argue that there are substantive and widely general benefits, both for men as for women, and that these are consistent with the social and intellectual ideals currently acclaimed for liberal education. 1Virginia Held, Feminist Morality: Transforming Culture, Society, and Politics Chicago: University Press, 1993), p. 25. 2Mary Field Belenky, Blythe McVicker Clinchy, Nancy Rule Goldberger, and Jill Mattuck Tarule. Womens Ways of Knowing: The Development of Self, Voice, and Mind. New York: Basic Books, 1986. 3Shulamit Reinharz, Feminist Methods in Social Research New York: Oxford University Press, 1992), pp. 259–260. 4James Applegate, Lucy Drotning, Nancy Gajee, Jean Howard, Kim Kastens, Janet Metcalfe, Denny Partridge, Maria Pilar Rodriquez, and JoAnn Winsten, Advancement of Women through the Academic Ranks of the Columbia University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences: Where Are the Leaks in the Pipeline? Columbia University, Commission on the Status of Women, Nov. 2001).
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