Degrees of Inequality: Culture, Class, and Gender in American Higher Education

Delta Kappa Gamma Bulletin, Fall 2011 | Go to article overview

Degrees of Inequality: Culture, Class, and Gender in American Higher Education


Degrees of Inequality: Culture, Class, and Gender in American Higher Education By Ann. L Mullen, PhD (2009). Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press. 248 pages.

The DKG Educators Award Committee selected Degrees of Inequality: Culture, Class, and Gender in American Higher Education by Ann. L. Mullen for the 2011 Educators Award, This award is given to a woman author, writing in 2010, whose book displays content that may influence the direction of thought and action necessary to meet the needs of todays complex society The content must be of more than local interest with relationship, direct or implied, to education everywhere.

Dr. Ann L. Mullen is an associate professor of sociology at the University of Toronto, where she teaches courses on education, inequality, and gender. She has a PhD in sociology from Yale University. Her current research focuses on the relationships between social inequality and higher education.

The book is of interest to teachers and educators at all levels. It deals with how social background and social capital influence educational attainment and the paths children take in their lives. The quality and quantity of one's family resources - economic, social, and cultural - contribute to all aspects of a student's educational progression and direction in life,

Dr, Mullen interviewed 50 students from Yale, an elite university, and 50 from Southern Connecticut State University, a moderately selective, public, comprehensive college. She found that students' choices of college and their experiences were strongly linked to social background and gender. The book compares the two different groups of students: how they (a) behaved differently at the high school level before going to university, (b) made decisions about going to college in the first place, (c) selected the university, (d) selected majors, and (e) interpreted the meaning of a university education.

Most of the Yale students had generations of family members holding university degrees and were encouraged to view their university years as an opportunity for intellectual and personal enrichment. About half of the Southern Connecticut State students were the first in their families to graduate from university. They saw their university degrees as preparation for occupations they hoped to enter, such as social work, teaching, and computer programming, Dr, Mullen presents and interprets the findings regarding these diverse students through the lens of sociological theories.

The Educators Award Committee found this a thought-provoking book about the influence of culture, class, and gender in education. The author's careful research and the well-written outcomes were impressive. Examples provided can inspire students to aim for the target of a prestigious university and reach admission to higher-tier universities with knowledgeable preparation.

Other Books of Interest Suggested by the Educators Award Committee: Cyber Kids, Cyber Bullying Cyber Balance by Barbara C* Trolley, PhD, and Constance Hanel, MSEd (2010), Thousand Oaks, CAî Corwin,

The book provides an overview of children's use of technology. …

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