Defining the Situation: Race and Gender

By Scales, Alice M. | Negro Educational Review, Fall 2008 | Go to article overview

Defining the Situation: Race and Gender


Scales, Alice M., Negro Educational Review


Issues of race and gender (too numerous to list here) have been instrumental in generating conversations and spurring scholarly research (see e.g., Free, Brown, & Clifford, 2007; Moller, Stearns, Southworth, & Potochnick, 2006; Philipp, 1998; Wallace, Goodkind, Wallace, & Bachman, 2008; Wawrzynski & Sedlacek, 2003). More so, arguments have been about differences between humans racially and differences between males and females instead of likenesses. In terms of differences, racially the American Anthropological Association Statement on "Race" (1998) indicates that there is more variation within racial groups than between them. Actually, and based on deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) evidence, about 94% of physical variation lies within so-called racial groups and about 6% lies between groups. Furthermore it posits that "race" in the United States "was a social mechanism invented during the 18th century to" categorize populations of people for economic advancement. In addition to Native American people being uprooted from their land and moved in the United States, Black African people were purchased (Lovejoy, 2000) to provide labor wherever needed (e.g., on plantations and farms owned by Whites). For example, Sawh and Scales (2006) and Solow and Engerman (1987) discuss such purchases, and how men and boys on plantations were often made to perform different tasks than women and girls. Also, women were sexually exploited by their owners (Donoghue, 2002; Wesley, 1932). Although, women and girls are more likely to aspire to non- stereotypical positions today, earlier, when Gottfreds on (1981) pointed out that "most youngsters circumscribe their aspirations according to sex type and prestige by age 13" (p. 577), girls were not as likely to pursue "boys only" career paths.

Equality then between the races as well as the sexes has not always been and may not be an option for many. In view of this, it seems reasonable to continue the conversations. To that end, three scholars undertook the task of questioning how race and gender affect students along the educational continuum. They submitted a proposal to The Negro Educational Review (NER) editors detailing their plan to serve as guest editors of a special issue of NER that could continue conversations about race and gender through peer-reviewed articles. Their efforts resulted in this published volume of articles and book reviews. Co-managing editor, Dr. Shirley A. Biggs and I are pleased to introduce the guest editors for this volume. They are:

Crystal Gafford Muhammad, an Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina. Dr. Gafford Muhammad is a graduate of Spelman College and holds a J.D. as well as a Ph.D. in Education Policy from the University of Virginia. She is the 2003 first-place winner of the American Association for Higher Education's Black Caucus Doctoral Student Award and a 2005 recipient of the Association for Institutional Research's Research Grant. Dr. Muhammad's co-edited volume From Doctorates to Diplomas: The Success of Black Women in Higher Education and its Implications for Equal Educational Opportunities for All is forthcoming from Stylus Publishers. Her work can also be found in the National Women 's Studies Association Journal, The Review of Higher Education, and Race and Ethnicity in Education.

Michael J. Smith, currently an Assistant Professor at Portland State University in Oregon. After earning a BA from Loyola Marymount University (LMU), Dr. Smith worked in the field of college admissions for 11 years (three at LMU and eight at Claremont McKenna College). During this time he earned an MA in Higher Education from the University of Michigan. After leaving admissions he completed a Ph.D. in Higher Education and Organizational Change from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). His work explores the many influences on college choice for African American students and their parents with particular emphasis on low -income populations. …

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