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Elitism in the Feminist Movement May 4, 2007

Posted by Melissa in class, college, competing feminism, controversy, ECCSF, Female Power, female relationships, general considerations, Girl Power, Harvard, Higher Education, in the news, Ivy league, Judith Rodin.

I just read an article that described the recent gathering of female presidents of the top Ivy League universities and their discussion the changing roles of women in education and the administrative side of college politics. The group, including Judith Rodin- the first woman to lead an Ivy institution, stressed that in spite of the progress, there was still a lack of women represented in the faculty and a lack of gay, black, and Hispanics in leadership roles. While nothing in the article really surprised me, I am struck by the elitism inherent in the gathering. Only Ivy league universities were asked to attend this meeting, leaving female leaders at smaller schools and public universities out of the conversation- ergo feeding back into the problem of the lack of socio-economic diversity they also complained about during their conversation. I think its hypocritical for a powerful group of women to come together to complain about the lack of female representation in higher education while at the same time denying entry into their club to those same women they feel aren’t represented in their field.

I have been involved in the East Coast Chicano Student Forum- a network of Latino organizations on the east coast- since entering college and am sad to say that the same division exists among student organizations. At one point during a conference last year, Harvard and Yale walked out of a joint meeting because they felt organizing with smaller, less prestigious schools was wasteful. They honestly felt that the problems we were discussing- lack of Latino representation in the student bodies- were more important at their schools. I remember being completely flabbergasted and thinking how ridiculous it was for a Latino organization to claim to want to empower the community all the while discriminating against their own people because they happened to go to a smaller schools- I immediately thought of this problem while reading the article. Those women from the “elite” institutions would have been more effective had they decided to work with all women, showing a concern for all women and not just those at the 8 schools in their league.

I may be looking too much into this, but I honestly can not get past the hypocrisy of the situation.




1. sindhub - May 5, 2007

One of the thoughts that struck me while reading that article is how concerned universities are with having minorities (whether racial, sexual, or gender) in ‘leadership’ roles–roles that have a lot to do with representing the university to the public. But there wasn’t as much concern with getting those minorities into the university administration in the first place, and making it a welcoming place for them, which I think feeds back into our class discussion about how the idea of the individual conquering the system is constantly paraded over the idea of the system accomodating different groups of people. It’s especially ironic since this was a conference meant specifically to discuss minority representation within higher education.

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