chapter  1
25 Pages

College Credentials as Female Disadvantage?

WithNancy S. Niemi

The idea of American schools may be Edenic, but its daily realities have been far from it. Steeped in deeply embedded cultural beliefs about what men and women should do and be, schools and the expectations for them are simultaneously mediated by race, ethnicity, and social class. Americans of the 19th and 20th centuries loved the idea of school as the great equalizer, as long as it never stood a chance of becoming a reality. Degrees of Difference is about college credentials and their diminishing utility in creating political, economic, and social power for women and men in the United States. Media reports trumpet women's dominance in colleges and universities: They earn more degrees, are more frequently valedictorians, and more participate in extracurricular activities. The concept of formal education as female disadvantage may be radical, even if the focus on men's and women's differential academic accomplishments is neither radical nor new.