Forty Years of Women’s and Gender Studies: A View from the Trenches

Linda K Pritchard


Abstract


This article looks at women’s history and women’s studies with a focus on their institutionalization at non-elite U. S. universities. The fortieth anniversary of women’s studies has prompted many reviews of the field, with most tracing the intellectual trajectory of key scholarly concepts. The present study takes a structural approach to determine how effectively women’s studies has been implanted in institutions of higher education. Personal recollections as a graduate student and as a faculty member and administrator at three regional comprehensive universities, as well as a small study of thirteen universities in the mid-west Mid American Conference universities, suggest the complexities of institutionalizing women’s studies in non-elite organizations. Despite the apparent success of women’s studies in the U.S., the lack of structural integrity in most programs makes them vulnerable during periods of systematic higher education retrenchment.


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