Tulane University WMST 497-70

Research in Women's Studies
Prof. Beth Willinger
TR 9:30-10:45
Fall 1999

"Students are central to the process of creating Women's Studies theory; they are pioneers whose work is important." -Bowles and Klein

"'...learning should occur on three levels in any research project: the levels of person, problem and method.' By this I mean(t) that the researcher would learn about herself, about the subject matter under study, and about how to conduct research." -Reinharz

Office: Room 205, Newcomb College Center for Research on Women, Caroline Richardson Hall
Phone: 865-5238; e-mail, willing@mailhost.tcs.tulane.edu

Office hours: Tuesday 3:00-5:00 p.m. and by appointment

Course Materials: Reinharz, Shulamit. Feminist Methods in Social Research. Oxford University Press: New York. 1992.

Reserve readings indicated by "*" on syllabus and other readings as assigned. Reprints of these works are on reserve in the library of the Center for Research on Women (hours: MWF 9:00-5:00; TTH 9:00-9:00; SAT 2:00-5:00). The reserved materials may not be checked out. If you wish, you may copy these on the library copy machine for $.05 per page.

Course Description:

In this course we will explore what is meant by feminist research and how one goes about doing it. We begin by examining the current issues and debates regarding feminist research methods, methodology and epistemology. We then tap into the research in women's studies to read and discuss how theory, method, methodology and epistemology come together in published works. However, research is a craft best learned through practice and it is my firm belief that the ideas and concepts we learn about in our readings and class discussions can be understood fully only by doing feminist research. Therefore, a significant portion of the course will be devoted to the research process.

We will be working together, individually and collectively, to study the current concerns and issues facing women in higher education in Louisiana. This research will result in a report that illuminates our findings and makes recommendations for the future. There is also the possibility of giving a conference presentation. Together we will design the research project. Class meetings will provide a place and time to share and discuss discoveries, problems, and questions that arise as we develop our project. We will all participate by questioning, reading, creating, and producing knowledge. Each of us will be both teacher and student. The success of the project as well as the course, therefore, depends on each of us and your full participation is required.

We will be using e-mail and the Internet to communicate with one another, to locate statistics on women in higher education and information about the post secondary institutions in the state. Ideally, we will publish our report both on the Internet and in a printed report. An added bonus then, is the development of computer skills.


Course Goals and Objectives:

The following are the learning objectives established for this course. I hope you also will include your own.

  1. To understand and describe the distinguishing features defining feminist research.
  2. To gain an understanding of the feminist critique of science and positivism.
  3. To become knowledgeable about the range of women's studies periodicals and the range of research methods used in women's studies research.
  4. To develop the skills to interpret and critically evaluate research in women's studies.
  5. To have a high comfort level with conducting internet searches.
  6. To gain knowledge about the concerns and issues facing women in higher education.
  7. To learn, by doing, the process of conducting a research project that is guided by feminist theory, including:
    • determination of the research questions;
    • experience with at least two methods of data collection;
    • data analysis; and
    • writing the report.

Course Requirements and Methods of Evaluation:

You will be evaluated by the quality of your work on the following requirements:

  1. Class participation - Lively and informed discussion requires that the readings be done in preparation for the day they are assigned. We have much to learn from one another and we will all benefit the most if we remember that active engagement by everyone makes for the best course. You must be present to participate and therefore your presence is required at each class meeting. Each of you will have a turn at facilitating a class discussion. As colleagues, we also will read one another's project submissions to offer comments and suggestions. (20%)

  2. Internet - Everyone will be expected to be on-line, to check their e-mail regularly, and to develop search skills.(5%)

  3. Attendance at Presentations by Women's Studies Scholars - We want to be informed about research currently being conducted by other women's studies scholars both to have our own thinking challenged and to learn about potential difficulties in conducting research about women. To fulfill this requirement, choose to attend at least three programs sponsored by the Center for Research on Women. The Salzer Lecture featuring Gillian Sutherland is strongly recommended. You are then to write up a one page critique of each program attended. A critique is not a summary of the presentation. Your critique should include consideration of both theoretical and methodological dimensions of the research presented and particularly address the ways the presentation relates to the central concerns of our course. For example, what research methods are used by the scholar? Is her methodology adequate to her research question? What are her epistemological assumptions? How does theory guide her inquiry? Please turn in your paper within one week of the program. (15%)
    (The program schedule may be found at here.)

  4. Mid-term Exam - November 4- This exam (short answer, essays) will cover the assigned readings and class discussions. (25%)

  5. Research paper and report - Doing research is a process and because we are interested in process as well as product, I would like you to maintain a research journal or a notebook in which you record your progress toward the completion of our project. This should include items such as your ideas for the project, reference people, sources consulted (books, internet addresses, primary source materials, etc.), stumbling blocks, musings, "brilliant ideas," and any other materials or activities important to you in conducting your research. This will be helpful to you in writing your paper.
    You are expected to write a paper on your participation in the research process as well as write a draft of your report and a final paper on the portion of the research project you undertake. Additional information on the project will be distributed and discussed in class. Your contribution to the project and report will count for 35% of your grade.

Outline and Schedule of Requirements:

September 2 Introductions and discussion of requirements and class project.
September 7 What is Feminist Research?

  • Reinharz, Shulamit. Chapter 1, Introduction and Chapter 13, Conclusion.
  • *Harding, Sandra. 1987. "Introduction: Is There a Feminist Method?" In S. Harding (Ed.), Feminism and Methodology (pp. 1-14). Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

September 9 Method, Methodology, and Epistemology
  • *Maynard, Mary. 1994. "Methods, Practice and Epistemology: The Debate about Feminism and Research," in Mary Maynard and June Purvis Researching Women's Lives from a Feminist Perspective. Bristol, PA:Taylor & Francis Ltd:10-26.

September 14 Using Women's Experiences to Generate Scientific Problems
  • *Smith, Dorothy. 1987. "A Sociology for Women." Chapter 2 in The Everyday World as Problematic. Boston: Northeastern University Press: 49-104.
  • *Andrade, Rosi and Hilda Gonzalez Le Denmat. 1999. "The Formation of a Code of Ethics for Latina/Chicana Scholars: The Experience of Melding Personal Lessons into Professional Ethics" Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies Vol. XX, No.1:151-160.

September 16 The History of Women in Higher Education in Great Britain and the U.S.
  • *Sutherland, Gillian. 1987. "The Movement for the Higher Education of Women: Its Social and Intellectual Context in England, c 1840-80" in P.J. Waller, Politics and Social Change in Modern Britain. Sussex:The Harvester Press.
  • *Graham, Patricia A. 1978. "Expansion and Exclusion: A History of Women in American Higher Education" Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, Vol. 3, No. 4:759- 773.

September 19 Presentation by Gillian Sutherland, 3:00 PM
Preceded by Box lunch- by invitation only and reservations are mandatory.

September 21 How Do We Know What We Know and Who Is the Knower? Considering Standpoint Epistemologies

  • *Collins, Patricia Hill. 1989. "The Social Construction of Black Feminist Thought." Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 14,4:745-773
  • *Hekman, Susan. 1997. "Truth and Method: Feminist Standpoint Theory Revisited." Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 22 (Winter):341-365 and comments following by: Hartsock, Hill Collins, Harding, and Smith, pp. 367-398.

September 23 Designing our Research Project: Women in Higher Education in Louisiana
Discussion of project purpose and methodology with assignments made for first stage of research: determining what indicators should be studied and why.

  • The Chronicle of Higher Education Almanac. August 27, 1999. "Louisiana." pp:84-86. (handout)
  • *Solomon, Barbara B. 1989. "Demographic Changes and Women on Campus" American Behavioral Scientist, Vol. 32, No. 6: 640-646

September 28 Listening To and Hearing Women's Experiences: The Interview
  • Reinharz, Shulamit. Chapter 2: Feminist Interview Research
  • *Schroeder, Debra S. and Clifford R. Mynatt. 1999. "Graduate Students' Relationships with Their Male and Female Major Professors" Sex Roles, Vol.40, Nos. 5/6:393-420.

September 30 Listening To and Hearing Women's Experiences: Oral Histories
  • Reinharz, Shulamit. Chapter 7: Feminist Oral History

October 5 Understanding Women in Their Own Contexts: Ethnography
  • Reinharz, Shulamit. Chapter 3: Feminist Ethnography
  • *Hammons-Bryner, Sue. 1995. "Interpersonal Relationships and African American Women's Educational Achievement: An Ethnographic Study" Sage, Vol IX, No. 1:10-17.

October 7 Understanding Women in Their Own Contexts: International and Cross-Cultural Research
  • Reinharz, Shulamit. Chapter 6: Feminist Cross-Cultural Research
  • *Maundeni, Tapologo. 1999. "African Females and Adjustment to Studying Abroad" Gender and Education, Vol 11, No. 1:27-42.

October 12 Understanding Women in Their Own Contexts: Content Analysis
  • Reinharz, Shulamit. Chapter 8: Feminist Content Analysis
  • *Low, Jason and Peter Sherrard. "Portrayal of Women in Sexuality and Marriage and Family Textbooks: A Content Analysis of Photographs from the 1970s to the 1990s" Sex Roles: A Journal of Research Vo. 40, Nos. 3/4: 309-318

October 14 Understanding Women in Their Own Contexts: Case Studies
  • Reinharz, Shulamit. Chapter 9: Feminist Case Studies
  • *The MIT Faculty Newsletter. 1999. "A Study on the Status of Women Faculty in Science at MIT." Vol XI, No. 4, March. Available at http://web.mit.edu/fnlwomen.htm
  • *Ludwig, Erik. 1999. "Closing in on the 'Plantation': Coalition Building and the Role of Black Women's Grievances in Duke University Labor Disputes, 1965-1968" Feminist Studies Vol. 25, No 1:79-94.

October 19 Measuring Behaviors and Attitudes: Can Quantitative Research be Feminist?
  • Reinharz, Shulamit. Chapter 4: Feminist Survey Research and Other Statistical Research Formats
  • *Myers, Daniel J. and Kimberly B. Dugan. 1996. "Sexism in Graduate School Classrooms: Consequences for Students and Faculty" Gender & Society, Vol.10 No.3:330-350.
  • Internet Assignment: Locate via the Internet statistical information on the higher education of women in the U.S. and in Louisiana.

October 21 Measuring Behaviors and Attitudes: Can Experimental Research be Feminist?
  • Reinharz, Shulamit. Chapter 5: Feminist Experimental Research
  • *Beyer, Sylvia. 1999. "The Accuracy of Academic Gender Stereotypes" Sex Roles: A Journal of Research Vol. 40, Nos. 9/10:787-813.

October 26 Triangulation of Research Methods
  • Reinharz, Shulamit. Chapter 11: Feminist Multiple Methods Research
  • *LePage-Lees, Pamela. 1997. "Struggling with a Nontraditional Past: Academically Successful Women from Disadvantaged Backgrounds Discuss Their Relationship with 'Disadvantage'" Psychology of Women Quarterly, Vol. 21, No. 3:365-385.

October 28 From Theory to Praxis
  • Reinharz, Shulamit. Chapter 10: Feminist Action Research
  • *Ferree, Myra Marx, and Julia McQuillan. 1998. "Gender-Based Pay Gaps: Methodological and Policy Issues in University Salary Studies" Gender & Society Vol. 12, No. 4:424-440.

November 2 Being Creative and Having Fun with Research
Reading Assignments:
  • Reinharz, Shulamit. Chapter 12: Original Feminist Research Methods
  • *Aparicio, Frances R. 1999. "Through My Lens: A Video Project about Women of Color Faculty at the University of Michigan" Feminist Studies 25, No 1:119-130.

November 4 Mid-term Exam

November 9 on Project and Clarification of Assignments
Time-line for completion of assignments, paper and final report will be distributed. Each student is to present a general overview of her individual portion of the project including the theoretical assumptions, research question, definition of the group studied and any comparative groups, working hypothesis, methodology, methods to be used, and information sources. Reasons for selecting the topic and other personal assumptions or biases also should be discussed.

December 17 Final Exam 9:00 a.m. to noon (Friday)
Submission of final paper with oral defense.

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