As soon as I began my fieldwork in Guyana in July of 2014, I started to hear hushed discussions and whispered warnings about something the locals were calling “the sickness.” While I assumed that they were referencing something like malaria or the flu, I soon discovered how wrong I was. “The sickness,” sometimes mentioned explicitly… Read more →
In late 2012 the Irish Times and National Museum of Ireland selected the Roman Catholic First Communion dress as one of the most important 100 objects in Ireland’s history. A girl’s dress thus took its place alongside bronze age funerary pots and the Book of Kells as items essential to Ireland’s history and culture. Articles… Read more →
In the age of Black Lives Matter, Standing Rock, and #SayHerName, it may seem pedantic or even a bit naïve to say that nothing happens in a vacuum and that movements are never, even when histories claim otherwise, singularly focused. Still, the demand that participants in protest actions be pure and purely motivated — to… Read more →
In American media and pop culture, there is a constant barrage of fear and panic about teens, especially girls, and sexuality. Are kids having sex too young, too frequently, with too little emotional attachment? Is alcohol causing them to make poor or reckless choices when it comes to sex? Why is sexual assault seemingly on… Read more →
By Carolyn Herbst Lewis
One of the writing assignments that I use in my American women’s history class is a series of primary document analyses. Each one uses a different digital database or archive to locate a document and analyze it using course materials. I like to imagine this is building twenty-first century research skills and teaching responsible use of the Internet, as well as our more traditional goal of critical thinking skills. As I was constructing the assignment, I explored several digital repositories, including the North American Women’s Letters and Diaries collection from Alexander Street Press. In the process, I stumbled upon an item that very quickly sucked me in. I had no choice but to drop everything else and read it very, very carefully.
By Carolyn Herbst Lewis
There is much talk these days about girls and STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. In 2009, only 24% of scientists and engineers were women. This is not surprising, given the fact that women comprise only about 17% of the students earning degrees in these subjects, as compared to the 79% of students earning bachelor’s degrees in education. There are material benefits to building careers in STEM. A woman in a STEM-related career earns, on average, 33% more than a woman in a non-STEM field. Given the continued gender wage gap, and the high numbers of women in poverty in this country, it makes sense to encourage an interest in STEM. How to do so has been the tricky part. Colleges and universities — as well as prospective employers — actively recruit women to enroll in STEM programs. But getting young women interested in these fields has been more difficult. The old maxims that girls don’t pursue these interests because “Math class is tough,” and their brains are not “hardwired” for it, no longer suffice. Researchers have found ample evidence that demonstrates that it is a combination of gender conditioning and a lack of role models that make girls feel that they don’t “belong” in STEM. This isn’t just about finding gender equity in the workplace or the college classroom, then; it’s also about reframing the gendered messages we send to young girls and women about femininity and science.