Beyond the University: Elite Bostonian Women’s Organizations as Sites of Science Learning, 1868-1910
Baca, Katie Ana
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CitationBaca, Katie Ana. 2019. Beyond the University: Elite Bostonian Women’s Organizations as Sites of Science Learning, 1868-1910. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
AbstractThis dissertation examines the women-centric science learning opportunities established by Boston-based women’s organizations in the Progressive Era. It focuses on two such organizations: the New England Women’s Club (NEWC, founded in 1868) and the Woman’s Education Association (WEA, founded in 1871). At a time of trenchant opposition to women in science and advanced education for women, these groups were able to establish learning opportunities through which thousands of Bostonian women engaged with science. This dissertation uncovers the strategies deployed by these groups to engender these opportunities, ranging from focusing on feminized sciences to self-funding. It finds that the groups diverged significantly in their political outlooks; the NEWC was distinctly pro-suffrage while the WEA was generally anti-suffrage. These political divergences shaped the character of each group’s science offerings and justifications for women’s science learning. As such, this dissertation suggests the co-construction of questions surrounding women’s suffrage and women in science.
This dissertation also grapples with the shortcomings of the science learning opportunities established by the NEWC and WEA. It argues that these groups often developed science learning opportunities that were short-lived, focused on feminized sciences, and unable to substitute for university-based science educations. Further, it finds that the groups’ members were almost wholly white, non-immigrant, and upper class, and it showcases the manner in which their spaces of science learning reified their worldview. Finally, this dissertation examines the breadth of male support enjoyed by these organizations, pushing back on the historiographical tendency to paint nineteenth century male opposition to women in science as a foregone conclusion.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:42013065
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