The Rise and Demise of the Ad Hoc Committee on Sex Equity: Reflections on Three CCSS Feminists

Article excerpt

Jane

"It is our hope that this Social Studies Review issue on Sex Equity in the 80's will be the first among many in the new decade to address sex equity in social studies education." (Powers & Marquis, 1980)

We left Jane in 1980, working on a doctorate in education at Stanford University, and successfully establishing an Ad Hoc Committee on Sex Equity in Social Studies Education for the California Council for the Social Studies. Jane and Carol Marquis (co-chair) promised to hold regular committee meetings, organize sessions and a meeting at the CCSS Conference, and serve as guest editors for the Social Studies Review issue on the subject. In the spring of 1980 the Review was published and contained a compendium of articles on feminist issues of the time: Women and Public Office, Women in American History Textbooks, in American Athletics, In Film, in Television, in the Home. The legislative report stated that in addition to the $10 million appropriated for sex equity in education by the Federal Government, the State of California passed SB 1285 requiring the inclusion of information on the contributions of women in all Social Science courses.

In spite of all the articles in the Review, the 1982 CCSS Conference program showed few results. Only one session was devoted to women's issues: National Women's History Week, presented by Molly MacGregor from the National Women's History Project of Santa Rosa, CA.

What a difference three years would make. The 1985 CCSS Conference program featured a Vital Issues Session on Women's History Week, two other sessions, a strand titled Women's Studies, and a Sex Equity Committee meeting chaired by Jane.

Interest continued to grow. The 1987 CCSS Conferences included a Vital Issues Session, a workshop and five sessions devoted to Women's Studies. Jane continued as President of the Sex Equity Committee through 1988 when the name of the Committee was changed to Gender Equity. Meanwhile she completed her doctorate in education and accepted a position in the Department of Education at San Francisco State University. Teaching duties were to lead Jane in new directions. However, Jane returned to CCSS to serve as Co-Editor of the 1990 Review issue titled Women, Gender, and the California Framework.

Lyn

Lyn, already a part of the Women's Studies Program in the Berkeley Unified School District joined the CCSS Ad Hoc Committee on Sex Equity immediately. She submitted an article for the 1980 Review titled "In Search of Our Past." A sample activity she included is called "Digging" which is part of a curriculum unit called "Sources of Strength: Women and Culture", which Lyn helped develop for Far West Education and Research Laboratory. "Digging" helps students identify the social structure which is the framework in which women's roles are set. The object is for students to read an autobiographical account from the culture they are studying, and then describe the political, economic, and personal power or influence exercised by this woman within her family and her society. Definitions about what constitutes political, or economic, or personal power with regards to women are provided for the students.

The activity has students read an excerpt from the life of one woman: for example, a Chinese woman who immigrated to the United States at the turn of the century. Students imagine they are archeologists who have only discovered this piece of evidence about the woman. After reading it, they list any example of power they find in columns, labeled Political, Personal, Economic. They then decide the degree of power this example gives on a continum of 1 to 10. There also is a chance to list examples of lack of power. Later, after reading personal accounts from other cultures, students contrast the evidence they gathered for each (Reese, 1980).

Lyn's article in the Review was only the beginning. Always a conference presenter, Lyn focused on women in world history. …