• jannipedersen

Female Primates and the 21st Century University



The time after returning from Panama has been hectic. I have more to share from Santo Domingo, but in the meantime, I wanted to share the recording of a lecture I recently gave. In connecting with Ashford University's Women's Week, I talked about Females Primates and the 21st Century university - or why are we stuck in the Neolithic.

To view, click below: http://bpiedu.adobeconnect.com/pnnoj3hfvclx/ Abstract: To understand current challenges and opportunities for women in the workplace in general, and in higher education in particular, applying a both historical and cross-cultural lens is critical. Such an analysis helps understand societal norms of what is “natural” for one gender, as well as what is construed as “traditional” in a particular society. Both of these terms are being used as discourse aids to direct women, and men, towards specific gender roles. The gender roles found in our culture have historically held women back from careers in academia, and still present specific challenges. This presentation will look at the origin of gender inequality in human history and prehistory. First, a visit with our evolutionary cousins, the chimpanzees and bonobos, provide little evidence for biologically determined gender roles in our deep evolutionary past. Further along in history, research indicates that gender roles changed, towards widespread subjugation of women, when larger and more complex societies emerged based on agriculture, replacing smaller bands of hunter-gathers that in many cases were more egalitarian in terms of resources, political power, and gender. This indicates that gender roles are malleable and depends upon larger societal structures of political and economic organization. Cross-cultural comparison of contemporary societies also highlight this point and further the role of cultural norms that vary through time and across class and ethnic divisions. Returning to contemporary higher education, gender norms influence both teaching, as well as career potentials of female faculty and other staff members. A critical assessment of the origin of these norms, and their support of lack of support from scientific evidence, can help elucidate if and how to move beyond them.


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