True

Students have begun to realise, too, that women\’s studies is useless for getting you a job. It\’s no coincidence that the subject\’s collapse coincided with the introduction of tuition fees. The moment you start paying for something is the moment you consider whether it\’s really worthwhile.

Applies to so many things though, doesn\’t it?

8 comments on “True

  1. One reason why Women’s Studies have receded in importance is perhaps because:

    “WOMEN university students now outnumber men across all subject areas, from engineering to medicine and law to physical sciences.”
    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2-2356965.html

    We have come a long way since Daniel Defoe wrote this in 1719:

    “I have often thought of it as one of the most barbarous customs in the world, considering us as a civilized and a Christian country, that we deny the advantages of learning to women. We reproach the sex every day with folly and impertinence; while I am confident, had they the advantages of education equal to us, they would be guilty of less than ourselves.”
    http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/1719defoe-women.html

  2. If the student (or an interested third party) had to pay the entire cost of tuition, we’d see even fewer pointless degree courses, and we’d get more of the specialists that we need.

  3. Elizabeth I had an excellent education; so had Mary Queen of Scots. When did belief against education for women set in?

  4. Perhaps we shouldn’t conclude that what applied to a few royals was general practice for the population at large. Jane Austen (1775-1817) was evidently highly literate but that was because of home tutoring by her father, who was a country parson.

    The Brontë sisters (Charlotte 1816-55, Emily 1818-48, Anne 1820-49) also grew up in a country parsonage. We might note how short were all their lives but then average life expectancy was about 40 years at the beginning of the 19th century. OTOH Queen Elizabeth I (1533-1603) lived on till she was 70.

  5. Bob B, the low average life expectancy was because so many children died in infancy. Once you survived that you had a reasonable expectation of dying at 70+. This was true as far back as Biblical times, hence “The days of our life are three score years and ten, or if we have strength, four score” from Psalm 90.

    But I agree, it was not that a previous belief in educating women was overturned, rather it was that only certain classes of women were educated.

  6. Can I major in Men’s Studies and take an in-depth look at porn, football and large horsepower engines?

    Tim adds: You mean you didn’t go to a regular university already?

  7. “I agree, it was not that a previous belief in educating women was overturned, rather it was that only certain classes of women were educated.”

    Before the opportunity to work in factories came with industrialisation, starting c. two hundred years ago or so, there was limited scope for regular employment for most women: farming, domestic service of one variety or another, the stage or retailing on the streets and in the taverns. Until 1851, most folks lived in rural areas.

    Btw “We have noted a substantial body of original research . . . which found that stagnant or declining literacy underlay the ‘revolution’ of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. . . Britain in 1850 was the wealthiest country in the world but only in the second rank as regards literacy levels. [Nicholas] Crafts has shown that in 1870 when Britain was world economic leader, its school enrolment ratio was only 0.168 compared with the European norm of 0.514 and ‘Britain persistently had a relatively low rate of accumulation of human capital’.”
    Sanderson: Education, economic change and society in 1780-1870 (Cambridge UP, 1995) p.61

    Of course, when I went to uni half a century ago, women were very much in the minority but then only some 4 per cent of my age group went into higher education. There were no Women’s Studies on the curriculum then.

  8. Historically, education, and especially literacy, was disseminated by the churches. They were in the business of educating bright lads who might aspire to the priesthood. So I would expect that to explain the male preferrence in the early days.

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