New Research on the Family -- By: Anonymous
New Research on the Family
From The Howard Center For Family, Religion, & Society
Women or Engineers
What happens to women who enter a predominantly male field? Do they feminize it, or are they mascu-linized? One answer comes from Heather Dryburgh of McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.
Dryburgh observed and interviewed engineering students at a Canadian university. Whereas women composed only four percent of this university’s engineering program in 1971, they now make up about one-fifth of the student engineering population. Yet engineering remains a masculine culture, as Dryburgh tells her feminist readers in Gender & Society. And the women engineers have adapted themselves to it: those who survive the first year eagerly purchase the bomber-style “Engineering Sciences” jacket that is the de rigueur wear of the department. “Despite its masculine style, women engineering students recognize its symbolic value and wear the jacket with pride.” Most deny the existence of sexism within the program, insisting, in the words of one student, that “there is no difference between the guys and us.” For the most part the young women accept “uncritically the masculine culture into which they are entering.” They “identify with, rather than challenge, the macho engineering identity.”
(Source: Heather Dryburgh, “Work Hard, Play Hard: Women and Professionalization in Engineering—Adapting to the Culture,” Gender & Society, Vol. 13, No. 5 [October 1999]: 664-682.)
Maturity Without Matrimony?
The peculiarity of the contemporary American view of adulthood recently attracted the attention of social scientist Jeffrey Jensen Arnett of the University of Maryland. Scouring a wide range of anthropological, sociological, and historical literature, Arnett adumbrates the “widespread view that the transition to adulthood. .. culminates in marriage as the ultimate marker of the transition.” But when he examines data from several recent American studies, Arnett sees something quite different: when young Americans define adulthood, “marriage ranks very low.” Ranking high on that list are “criteria that are distinctly individualistic.” More specifically, when young Americans identify the “markers of adulthood,” they point to “those that represent becoming independent from others (especially from parents) and learning to stand alone.” “Marriage,” writes Arnett, “is no longer regarded as the culminating event that marks the incontestable attainment of adulthood.”
Arnett marvels at the “novelty of the contemporary American view.” “Perhaps the high current rates of cohabitation and divorce have reduced the status of marriage as a life transition, because it is now more likely to b...
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