Education Will Shrink a Woman’s Uterus?

Classes have begun for many this week. In honor, I’ll ask this question: Does education shrink a woman’s uterus?

At one point this was a real worry. In 1873 Edward Clark of Harvard voiced his concern. In 1889 the renowned scientist R.R. Coleman cautioned university women:

You are on the brink of destruction… Beware!! Science pronounces that the woman who studies is lost.

Scientists fretted because the more education a woman gained the fewer children she bore. They hadn’t imagined the most obvious cause: That educated women simply put off marriage and childbearing.

Who knows how many women were discouraged from education from such silly concerns.

Worries about weak minds were accompanied by worries about weak bodies: Some 19th Century doctors explained that corsets were needed because women’s bodies were too frail to adequately hold themselves up.

Uneven bars were invented for women gymnasts, who were thought to need rest between each move.

Moral of the story:

Don’t make judgments, scientific or otherwise, that assume biology lies behind social patterns and stereotypes.

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on August 22, 2012, in feminism, gender, psychology, sexism, women and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. I’m sure we believe much more fantastickal stuff in 1873 than this, Heck, folks believe some pretty weird stuff even now :-)

  2. I’m reading a book right now (http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/49432.Myths_of_Gender) and it’s a little scary how similar male scientists are still thinking to their past counterparts, not seeing correlation between things like being less able in math then men not by gender, but by outlaying possibilities such as the way we’re raised to play, and social stigma… sighhhh~

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