First Meeting for Scholar and Feminist IV, 1976, page 1
From: Mary Parlee, Academic Coordinator Subject: The Next Academic Conference Report of the First Planning Session September 15, 1976 Previous themes and their development were discussed and the question was posed: Is a feminist perspective in scholarly work useful only for the study of women? This question was answered with several more questions: How can we work against and/or within the male bias against "female" experience and "feminine" attitudes and emotions? How can we study the interaction of feminism with other parallel movements (black studies, third world move- ments)? Can we pin down the differences in the way various disciplines (broadly, humanities compared to sciences) respond to feminism? Can feminist scholars transform their relationships to an institution without comprehensive changes in the institution itself? These questions resolved themselves at first into two main foci for discussion: How would a feminist perspective bear upon the different disciplines? And, how will feminism affect the hierarchical institutions in which feminist scholars work? In discussing the first question, it was pointed out that feminists working in the natural sciences must to a greater extent separate their personal values from the values of the discipline in which they work. It was suggested that perhaps in these fields a feminist reevaluation could yield new insights into the meaning of "objectivity." As a side- light of this discussion, it was suggested that an effort be made at this conference to more fully represent the sciences and philosophy. The second focus of discussion, the possible effects of feminism in institutional hierarchy, took place on several levels. First, the con—' tradiction between the feminist work done by women scholars and the per- haps nonwfeminist way in which they related to their subordinates and colleagues, was pointed out. On the same specific level, it was asked how one could resolve the contradiction between feminist ideals and the hierarchical, non-feminist classroom set—ups of teacher/student division. On another level, it was noted that the structure of institutions deter- mines the ways in which women scholars are forced to spend their time. The structure of an institution also determines which subjects and issues get studied and which do not, and from what perspective. It was asked whether there were disciplines or areas which precluded feminist inter- pretation and, conversely, whether or not a feminist should spend time studying non-feminist subjects. It was generally agreed that traditional institutions perpetuate a heritage of failing to recognize the implica- tions of one's research for one's life and personal convictions. What might be the impact of feminism on this heritage?