The increasing feminization of anthropology
Have you been in an anthropology class / course with more men then women? I haven’t. In both Norway, Germany and Switzerland (pluss many other places incl South Africa, I heard), the gender balance between men and women is around 25-75. Eli Thorkelson, graduate student in cultural anthropology in Chicago, gives us some statistics from American universities that present a similar picture. But as he shows, it hasn’t always been like this. And according to him, we witness both an increasing feminization of anthropology and an ongoing masculine bias.
Here are some of his comments:
- The number of doctorates awarded to women has been greater than the number of doctorates awarded to men since 1992. Males were demographically dominant in the production of doctorates until 1984, after which there were eight years of approximate equality followed by divergence.
- The number of men enrolled has been falling slightly since 1995, while the number of women enrolled has continued to increase.
- While men are no longer demographically dominant, and are even a minority (remarkably so at the undergraduate level, where women receive nearly 70% of anthropology degrees), there are still gendered principles of selection at work in the field.
Nevertheless, the most demographically striking thing here is in his opinion the overall population growth of anthropology, hundreds of percent over the decades.
There are by the way many other interesting posts in his blog about academic culture and on the anthropology of anthropology!
Hi Lorenz! Thanks for mentioning my post; I’m really interested to hear that similar kinds of gender imbalances occur in Norway, Germany and Switzerland too. (I think it may be similar in France as well, to judge by the handful of anthropology events I’ve seen here, but I haven’t seen any figures.) It would be interesting to see how these kind of gender (im)balances vary across countries… that would be a comparative research project in itself, though. But I guess if it’s similar across international boundaries that must point to similar kinds of structural forces at work in academic disciplines around the globe. Which would be super neat to find out about.
take care, eli
Comment from: [Member]
Hi Eli, I don’t know if there structural forces at work in academic disciplines or if it’s just gender roles in general. This imbalance does not apply only to anthropology: Here in Norway, all seminars on minority issues, multiculturalism, integration etc are mostly attended by women, while “hard sciences” are dominated by men (while it might be more balanced in Eastern Europe).
While I was working with refugees in the municipality (office job), I was surrounded by women - these imbalances might be more extreme in Norway than in other countries as Norway has one of the most conservative gender roles in Europe.
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