Announcement: Where the Girls Are Panel

November 13, 2008
Christianne Corbett with State College Branch Display

Christianne Corbett with State College Branch Display

This evening, report author and AAUW Research Associate Christianne Corbett will participate in a panel discussion on AAUW’s recent research report, Where the Girls Are: The Facts About Gender Equity in Education. Presented by Penn State Public Broadcasting , the panel will discuss the impact of gender, economic, and ethnic barriers to academic achievement. The event will be streamed live by WPSU and broadcast on WPSU early next year. For event details, visit http://www.wpsu.org/lobbytalks/archives.html or view the program online.

WPSU panel -- Christianne, Terri, Cheryl, and Kimberly

WPSU panel: Christianne, Terri, Cheryl, and Kimberly


Kimberly and Christianne after the program at WPSU

Kimberly and Christianne after the program at WPSU

By:   |   November 13, 2008

1 Comment

  1. Talat Azhar says:

    The AAUW State College (PA) Branch and Pennsylvania State University co-hosted this program on the recently published AAUW research report on gender equity in education, Where the Girls Are. Report co-author Christianne Corbert participated in a panel discussion with Penn State faculty members to discuss the myths behind the “boys’ crisis” in education. Terri Vescio, associate professor of psychology, and Kimberly Griffin, assistant professor of education, along with Cheryl Dellasega, professor in the Department of Humanities in Penn State’s College of Medicine, shared their views on the issue of achievement gaps in education.

    The AAUW research finding that the perceived education crisis is not manifested along gender lines was unequivocally supported by the Penn State experts. All three panelists agreed that income and race play a much greater role in creating gaps in educational attainment.

    There are more women in our colleges and universities, no doubt, but there are far fewer African American women and even fewer African American men who have access to higher education. Women earn less than men while they are employed and earn far less in retirement, all things being equal. It is no surprise, then, that women are returning to higher education in increasingly greater numbers. There is hardly a case here for the “boys’ crisis.”

    A critical issue that was alluded to but not really nailed down during the discussion was that of privilege and power. It reminded me of the seminal work by Peggy Macintosh, White Privilege: Unpacking the White Knapsack. Macintosh tells us that there is a difference between acknowledging race and being a racist and between acknowledging sex and being a sexist. It has been two decades since this work was produced, but it still rings true. We do not talk about meritocracy, about level playing fields, and about domination and intimidation. The unsavory words do not figure in our lexicon when we embark on a search for solutions. Instead, we wonder how we can make our daughters stronger so they can persevere.

    How do we as educators, parents, and policy makers address these issues? As in most other academic conversations, the issues of power and privilege weighed down on the panelists, who defaulted to such suggestions as mentoring girls, taking our sons to work with our daughters, and other mundane recipes. I think it is time to break out of this vicious cycle and try something different. Perhaps, it would help to start the conversation by talking about patriarchy — a system of power and domination that starts in the home and propels discrimination onto the global stage with capitalistic and militaristic agendas. Social constructions of gender and social class stratifications are not generated in our schools — they start in our homes, are nurtured in our corporations, and are fueled in our oligarchies.

    Let us look into the “white knapsack” and see how was can start to unpack it — one item at a time.

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