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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Understanding the Reasons for and Results of Institutional Studies on the Status of Female Undergraduates on Campus: Three Case Studies of Elite Universities
by Bacal, Jessica Beth, Ed.D., University of Pennsylvania, 2018, 173; 10828766
Abstract (Summary)

Today, colleges and universities are tasked with understanding complex and sometimes conflicting data on female students. Until 2018 and the #METOO movement, media narratives proclaimed that Western women lived in a postfeminist world where “sexism no longer exists” (Pomerantz & Raby, 2017, p. 11). Meanwhile, researchers have demonstrated in multiple studies that the experiences of undergraduate women differ from those of their male peers (Kim & Sax, 2009; Wharton, 2012).

Looking at committees on the status of college women is a way to understand how the institutions preparing young people for the world metabolize conflicting data on female students and approach equity issues. The purpose of this study was to examine how three universities—Duke University, Princeton University, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology—researched and wrote about the status of female undergraduates and to assess the impact of each university’s work.

Through analyses of reports and interviews with campus leaders and current students, I concluded that the work of the committees at Duke and Princeton was framed as “women’s work” for administrators, faculty, staff, and students. This framing is consistent with neoliberal ideology: The committees saw the impact of cultural and institutional gender inequity but described it in a way that made it only the work of some—it was “women’s work,” and female students should adapt, cope, or change.

At MIT, the report was “women’s work” because two female students spearheaded and led it. Their approach to data collection could serve as a model for other campuses that want to understand the extent to which the undergraduate experience is gendered.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Eynon, Diane E.
Commitee: Armacost, Mary-Linda, Mahoney, Maureen A.
School: University of Pennsylvania
Department: Higher Education Management
School Location: United States -- Pennsylvania
Source: DAI-A 80/01(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Womens studies, Education Policy, Gender studies
Keywords: Administration, Education, Evaluation, Female students, Higher education, Leadership
Publication Number: 10828766
ISBN: 978-0-438-33899-9
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