Coming into Her Own: Educational Success in Girls and Women

Coming into Her Own: Educational Success in Girls and Women

Coming into Her Own: Educational Success in Girls and Women

Coming into Her Own: Educational Success in Girls and Women


It was more than thirty years ago that significant gender bias in North America's schools and universities was first brought to light-a bias that prevented the full and equal development of girls' and women's potential in educational programs. Since the discoveries of that time, myriad improvements have compressed the enormous gender gap in education. Fundamental to our educational system is ensuring that the gap continues to narrow. Coming Into Her Own examines the progress in girls' and women's educational experiences since the 1960s and attempts to answer the question: What are optimal educational environments for girls and women? Written by experts in the fields of education, psychology, and women's studies, this comprehensive collection examines how classroom environments, social climates, teacher-student relationships, and the differing contexts of co-ed and single-sex institutions can influence girls' and women's educational success. This much-needed book also offers a range of approaches, models, and innovative strategies-such as those that emphasize mentoring and challenging educational cultures-that can profoundly transform school and campus climates to optimize educational experience. Characterized by an intention to better meet the diverse needs of students of different races, ethnicities, classes, ages, and sexual orientations, the strategies recommended in Coming Into Her Own aim to create environments that are open to all students. This enlightening and uplifting book is well-grounded in research, exploring a wealth of issues including the masculine nature of schools; violence against women and lesbian, gay, and bisexual students; alcohol abuse and associated health risks; and the current backlash against feminism and women's studies. Coming Into Her Own is filled with illustrative examples that describe actual situations and provide easily adaptable approaches to resolving current dilemmas in education. It reaches beyond the classroom and offers programs that can enhance the student's whole life experience. Promote Excellence in Girls' and Women's Education Written by experts in the fields of education, psychology, and women's studies, Coming Into Her Own offers innovative strategies and a range of approaches and models for optimizing the educational experiences of girls and women."This book is a source of information and inspiration. . . . All educational institutions need to be women-centered-both in their approach to how they teach and in the content of what they teach. I recommend this book to anyone who thinks there is nothing new under the sun in the area of educational reform. It provokes ideas about our educational structures that are full of promise for the future."_Janet L. Holmgren, president, Mills College"This is a much-needed book that translates theoretical knowledge about gender equity in education into practical strategies. It promises to be useful not only for improving the teaching and learning environments for women but for all students because everyone benefits from efforts to reform the learning environment in the classroom and on the broader campus. The strategies outlined in this important book should be implemented throughout higher education."_Bernice Sandler, coauthor of the Chilly Climate reports"Recognizing and acting on the value of women to the total society is paramount for higher education. This important book offers practical advice to those who wish to assure that women hold their rightful place with men in determining our collective future."_Donna Shavlik, former director, Office of Women in Higher Education, American Council on Education


on a beautiful day in May several years ago, a group of women scholars gathered in Amherst, Massachusetts, to share thoughts and strategies for fostering academic success and achievement for girls and women. The occasion was the fourth annual Nag's Heart conference—a conference devoted to exploring various issues that affect the professional and academic lives of women. Our particular sessions addressed the topic of resilience in girls and women and explored programming and pedagogies designed to bring change to academic institutions and to extend opportunities to women students.

Despite the diversity of perspectives offered on the subject—everything from leadership development to teaching statistics, from multicultural advising to use and abuse of alcohol on campuses—the unity of purpose behind the strategies outlined suggested that there was a much-needed book to be written on the array of positive programs and approaches. We proceeded to create a comprehensive volume that is both practical and theoretical, that addresses pedagogical concerns as well as campus-environment issues.

Theoretical research undergirds and frames each chapter; we then proceed to provide practical lessons for those who wish to create environments where girls and women can flourish. Although many chapters deal with teaching and learning on college campuses, the examples offered are applicable to broader academic experience on all levels. These models can be applied in any environment in which teaching is a priority—most especially responsive and responsible teaching. We provide examples of collaborative and interactive classrooms in which communities of learners are engaged in constructing knowledge and understanding. We hope that this book suggests some models for transforming the classroom and the campus climate, and that it will serve as a stimulus for those who would like to create their own innovative approaches.


Like the teaching and learning outlined in our book, our work has resulted from a process of collaboration. Some of our collaborators are obvious . . .

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