Female Sociology as Academic Discipline

Mušić Lejla

American Journal of Educational Research

Female Sociology as Academic Discipline

Mušić Lejla

Department of Sociology, Faculty of Political Sciences, Skenderija 72, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina


Mary Jo Deegan investigates the early women sociologists position in sociology and in ASA organisation. Sister’s founders in sociology are as a coin term formed by Mary Jo Deegan, in order to explain marginalisation of female stream sociological theory, as irrational. The origin of female exclusion in theory, in the work of the ecofeminist Eislar Rian Ecofeminist manifesto can be traced in following notions that the social system of Minoan period of rule on Greek island Crete, was the only true democracy. The Athenian democracy was the rule of free aristocratic males. Women and slaves (man and women of other color) were marginalized and excluded from public sphere. Only free males were subject to obligation of public speeches as a mark of true citizen. Patricia Shipley holds that Aristotle's scripts on social system represent the origin of misogyny and subordination of women, especially binary divisions: Femininity / masculinity, Nature / Culture, Emotion / Ratio, Subordination / Dominance, Logic of care/Logic of dominance, Pain /Pleasure. Small Albion advocates the doctrine of seperate spheres beliving that men and women are different distinctly. The fameous question raised by female sociologists, was Can sociology become science of society, rather than science of male society. This research paper is focusing on empirical investigation of results of malestream sociological theory being thaught at the Universities, in order to emphasize the importance of female sociology as academic discipline

Cite this article:

  • Mušić Lejla. Female Sociology as Academic Discipline. American Journal of Educational Research. Vol. 5, No. 3, 2017, pp 241-245. http://pubs.sciepub.com/education/5/3/1
  • Lejla, Mušić. "Female Sociology as Academic Discipline." American Journal of Educational Research 5.3 (2017): 241-245.
  • Lejla, M. (2017). Female Sociology as Academic Discipline. American Journal of Educational Research, 5(3), 241-245.
  • Lejla, Mušić. "Female Sociology as Academic Discipline." American Journal of Educational Research 5, no. 3 (2017): 241-245.

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At a glance: Figures

1. Introduction

“Seperate but equal”, as Small's idea, is explained comparing this difference to difference between two musical instruments, having the same relation to the notes in scale, but could not be replaced or supply place in their own seperate series [2]. Even though as the chair of Department, he employed women at University, it as only in seperate themes: “household administration, sanitary science, social settlements and statistics” [2]. Albion Small was Chair of the first Sociology Department, of American Sociological Association and American Journal of Sociology. He influenced the policy of acting towards female sociologists. American Sociological Association “then was men’s club” [2], but women could come to be participant if they were called by male presidents and organizers. Four presidents invited female sociologists from female network in sociology, to speak: Ward, Small, Ross, and Thomas. Even though Ward belived in seperate spheres doctrine, he also belived that “women were dominante first and men were a variation of her [2]. Ward supported wark of Charlotte Perkins Gilman and supported the inclusion of women. Charlotte Perkins Gilman, as a respectfull female sociologists and economist, was even three times involved as discutant, inside the American sociological association meetings. The first women included in first ASA meeting was Mrs J. Oldenwalrd-Unger. Small invited Jane Addams to speak as major speaker , at the ASA conferences, in years 1911, 1912, 1913. The other speakers were Lucy Salmon from Vassar college (1913), and Emily Greene Balch, from Wellesley College, in 1914 [2]. But in some years, no women were included, because they did not get more important roles in meetings. Ross invites Jane Addams to speak on War and Millitarism, in their sociological aspects, in 1915, but Emily Green Balch{1} came instead of her, and the meeting become a contraversial meeting. Addams and Balch were against war, and supported pacifism, and also were both Nobel Prize Winners. Jane Addams won the award in 1931, and Emily Green Balch in 1946. None of the men from Chicago school wanted to discuss her papers, and Ross founded two women, after calling fifteen male sociologists: Lillian Wald (Head residents of Henry Settlement, NYC) and Anna Garlin Spencer (Meadville Theological Seminar, Ohio). Even though this women were sociologists, they could not work inside the sociology, only inside the social work network. No women had highest offices during the first year of ASA until 1931, even though 8 women were involved [2]. Even though there are many influent female sociologists they are not well introduced in literature and academic journals because of double standards in recognition of academic works of women. Jessie Bernard [10] strives for the female enlightenment, questioning the sociology as male stream, and therefore focused only to male experiences, in famous statement: “Can sociology become science of society rather than science of male society?” [8]. Early eighties were marked by empirical works of sociologists in field of gender in order to mark problems: “differences in jobs vs. gender, differences in payment, education, political participation, and domestic work, women are discriminated at violated.....but they also included investigation of unrealistic demands of society in sports, job and interpersonal relation” [10]. The origin of female exclusion in theory, in the work of the ecofeminist Eislar Rian Eco feminist manifesto can be traced in following notions that the social system of Minoan period of rule on Greek island Crete, was the only true democracy[7]. The Athenian democracy was the rule of free aristocratic males. Women and slaves (man and women of other color) were marginalized and excluded from public sphere. Only free males were subject to obligation of public speeches as a mark of true citizen. Patricia Shipley holds that Aristotle's scripts on social system represent the origin of misogyny and subordination of women, especially binary divisions: Femininity / masculinity, Nature / Culture, Emotion / Ratio, Subordination / Dominance, Logic of care/Logic of dominance [7], Pain /Pleasure. Dorothy Smith wrote her famous work Sociology for women as antecedents of later formed discipline of sociology of gender. She was lecturer at University of Oregon, where in the academic staff of 44 persons she was the only woman: “The chilly climate for women” [8], is the way in which Dorothy Smith explains her experience in teaching Gender studies in early seventies. Radical feminism, with its notion of violence over the women in public and private sphere, demands the identification of these spheres, in order for women to be involved in academic life with overcoming the negative stereotypes regarding the roles of women and man. Therefore, as Ritzer, profeminist sociologist states: “ Sociology of gender represents investigation of socially formed identities, of male and female roles, relations and identities – being somewhat different in subject, than feministic focus on women” [8]. Sociology of gender analyzes gender in relation to social structures and relations. Therefore sociology of gender is an interdisciplinary, intradisciplinary, pluriperspective, and transdiscipinary (transnational) sub discipline of sociology. Since the formation of the discipline, there is no separate discipline that has considered the history of women in sociology, even though there are significant scientifically approved arguments for its establishment. What were the reasons for it, is analyzed from perspective of sister founders in sociology.

1. “Sister founders vs. founding fathers“

Mary Jo Deegan, in 1990, wrote her significant study- source book on Women founders in sociology, in which she mentioned 53 women founders in sociology. In the appendix of this work even plus 66 are mentioned for further investigations. These women are rarely mentioned in male stream sociology. Only pro feminist masculine authors mention works of women in sociology. Piter Scot has written a study on 50 key sociologists [6], but he only mentions three women. In comparison to Mary Jo Deegan's work that 118 female sociologists, this previously mentioned work is male stream and even discriminating.

Mary Jo Deegan mentions [1]: “Abbot Edith, Jane Addams, Arendt Hannah, Green Balch Emily, De Beauvoir Simone, Bernard Jessie, Sophonisba Breckinridge, Ruth Shonle Cavan, Mary Elizabeth Burroughs Coolidge Roberts Smith, Coser Laub Rose, Davis Bement Katharine, Diggs Ellen Irene, Donavan Frances, Eaves Lucille, Gilman Charlotte Perkins, Hagood Margaret Jarman, Hawes Amy, Holingworth Stetter Leta, Huber Joan, Hughes Macgill Helen, Kelley Florence, Kellor A. Frances, Kingsbury Susan, Klein Viola, Kollontai Alexandra, Komarovsky Mirra, Briant Lee Elisabeth, Hum Lee Rose, Lopata Znaniecka Helena, Merrel Lynd Hellen, Maclean Marion Annie, Martineau Harriet, Masaryk Alice, Myrdal Alva, Olesen Virginira, Parsons Clews Elsie, Riley White Mathilda, Baer Rose Caroline, Rossie Alice, Shanas Ethel, Smith Dorothey, Spencer Garlin Anna, Taeuber Irene B, Taft Jessie, Talbot Marion, Swaine Thomas Dorothey, Van Kleeck Marie, Wax Rosalie, Webb Beatrice, Wells-Barnett Ida, Plum-Williams Hattie“. There are different forms of violence over the women, but this form of exclusion is academic femicide in sociology. These women are rarely mentioned in male stream sociology. Rather to remove obstacles of gender based marginalisation, female sociologists decided to form the coin term sisters founders in sociology as opposition to founding fathers in sociology, emphasizing the importance of sisterhood in discipline rather then motherhood in disciplines, therefore also marking the places of exclusionment of women in sociology. Other academic works have several names involved. Profeminist sociologists such as Giddens or Ritzer, and authors involved with sexuality such as Altman, Weeks, Rubin, and masculinities studies Connell, Stoltenberg, mention even more. Examples of famous sociologist are: Jane Addams –founder in sociology, Annie Marion Maclean{2} first female to master in sociology at Chicago University and PhD in sociology [1]. There are also female sociologists, that had written sociological papers but that were hidden in sociological annals such as “Jessie Bernard, Ruth Shonle Cavan, Frances Donavan, Helen Hughes, Dorothy Thomas, Fay Karpf, Mabel Eliot, Ellen Black, Vivien Palmers” [1]. The leading person, and one of the pioneers of professional female sociology, was Jane Adams, America Noble Prize winner, PhD in sociology, and establisher of Hull House Homes and developer of technique of mapping. “Hull House was intellectual commune and salon” [1] and it involved some of the “brilliant female sociologists who lived and worked there such as Edith Abbot, Emily Green Balch, Sophonisba Breckinridge, Charlote Perkins Gilman, Florence Kelly, Frances Kellor, Julia Lathorp, Mary McDowell, and Annie Marion MacLean [1]”. “Many female sociologists were removed from their sociological positions Emily Green Balch in 1919, and Anna Garlin Spencer in 1920“[1]. . Founding fathers were against involvement of female sociologists at Universities. The only one mentioned usually as female founder in sociology, Harriet Martineau, translated Comte's work into English. Happy housewife myth as stereotype from early fifties till now, was questioned by the results of several empirical studies that involve the quality life of housewife’s vs. life of working women and males. Women that do not work are more stressed experience health problems, and depression. Discrimination against women in sociology involves male stream sociological approaches, since there is no female sociology, female history or female sociology. The most eminent early female sociologist, Jane Addams, was a sociological pragmatist and American Nobel Prize winner, who had even established Hull house for investigation of immigrants’ behaviour. She had introduced tehnique of mapping as obligatory for doctoral thesis. This female sociologist had influenced all of the men of Chicago school as well as American pragmatists such as Dewey, Mead. Mary Jo Deegan belives that there was female Chicago school first , because the Hull House, an Intelectual centre of Chicago, was formed three years before Department of Sociology was founded. Therefore, Mary Jo Deegan{3} forms the hypothesis that Jane Addams was a leading female sociologist, who was marginalized by male collegues. Female Chicago school, also, is formed before male school. Emily Green Balch, as a first female officer of American sociological Association, was hired to read papers at Wellesely College, in 1889. As a Chair and Professor she was fired from position in 1919, because of pacifisim. The famous active sociologists were Julia Lathorp, who become a part of an Executive Comittee of ASA in 1917, and Grace Abbott, close associate of Jane Addams (who worked at Chicago University). Susan Kingsbury and Lucille Eaves{4} were Research directors of Women's Educational and Industrial Union. Female sociologists network was a very important network for sociologist women, and for the organisation of participation of female sociologists at the meetings in the first period of formation of American Sociological Association. The representatives of this network were: Dummer, Lathorp, Balch, Abbott, with Addams as patron: “they represent sociological worldview that has been neglected, and their contribution and recognition to sociology being denied” [2]. Family section was a first section that was founded by Ethel Sturgess Dummer, with the panel entitled “Delinquent girl ”. Out of seven panelists, three of them were women in this section. Answer to the exclusionment questions by Deegan are that women were employed by women only, they were second class citizens in academia. Small belived they belong to seperate sphere, included women were part of female network, extreme sexism influenced exclusion, and institutional pattern of ostracism was difficult to destroy [2]. Mary Jo Deegan, on the basis of her investigations , states that there is history of Women in sociology that could be divided into Eras of Women in sociology:

1. “Founding sisters “or professional definition era” (1840-1890)

2. “Golden era” (1890-1920)

3. “Founding sisters in the dark era of patriarchal ascendancy” (1920-1965)

4. “The contemporary era: the battle for women’s equal opportunity in sociology” (1965-1990)” [1]. In 1969, the organization Sociologists for women in society was established. The first women was elected president of ASA in 1948, and the second one in 1973. Afterwards, The Supreme Court (1989) struggles for permanent place for women professionals in sociology. Founding sisters had changed the relations toward the female sociologists, and Sociologists for women in sociology publishes books and journals, and helps affirmation of female sociology. Contemporary American society involves presidency of women, over the American Sociological Association (ASA). Chronological example, in ASA, even 13 females was president (1906-2013). First female president was Dorothy Swaine Thomas in 1952, Mira Komarowsky (1973), Alice S.Rosi (1983), Patricia Hill Collins (2009) [1], Cecillia Ridgeway (2013) elected presidents for 2014 and 2015 are females as well, Annete Lareau (2014) and Paula England (2015), for 2016 Ruth Milkman was elected, and for the 2017 Michèle Lamont. In order to analyze the position of Women inside the academia, and to question weather there is enough female empowerment in discipline, the empirical investigation is conducted, which is subject matter of following section.

2. “Female empowerment in Academy and academical sociology”-materials and methods

Female empowerment in Academy and academical sociology is empirical investigation, with objectives of analaysing the theorethical frame of this work in order to find out the recognition of Female sociologists and importance of their work inside the Academy. I conducted the questioning of 21 students of Political Sciences Faculty, Sarajevo, in February 2016; at I year, on the BA Level, in order to examinate the student opinion on position of Women in sociology. The analytical frame of questioning was Female empowerment in Academy and academical sociology. The main hypothesis is that female professionals inside the field of sociology are not well recognized. The additional two hypotheses are 1. The importance of female sociologists is still insignificant in comparison to the male sociologists, and 2. There is not enough knowledge on works of female sociologists inside the academia. This investigation had given following results that are presented in nine graphical presentations below.

2. Results

1. Question: Are female sociologist well presented and present in Academic programmes and curriculums at Your Faculty and Department?

2. Question: Do you have more female or male professors at Your Department?

All of the examinees had responded that they have more male professors.

3. Do you think that you should have more female professors?

Figure 3. Do you think that you should have more female professors?

Two thirds of examinees thinks that they should have more professors.

4. How many female sociologists and how many male sociologists do you know?

Figure 4. Number of female and male sociologists known by students

Fourtheen of examinees had stated that they know more male sociologists, and one third that they know more female sociologists.

5. How many names can you remember of female sociologists?

Figure 5. The number of female sociologists known by students

Most of the examinees had responded that they do know either one or none name of female sociologist.

6. How many names do you know of male sociologists?

More than a half of students had responded that they are familiar with up to three male sociologists.

7. Is the American sociological association (ASA) presided over by only male presidents?

Some of the examinees did know that ASA is presided over with females, but more then a half, around twelve still thinks that it is presided by males.

8. Have You been discriminated on the basis of gender/sex during Your education?

Ten of examinees had responded that they were discriminated on the basis of gender during their education.

9. Do You think that we need discipline of female sociology?

Figure 9. Importance and need for female sociology

3. Discussion

Considering the question weather do we need discipline of female sociology, ten of the examinees had responded that they think, that they do need this discipline.

This research was conducted in order to check three hypothesis inside the nine different questions, presented in graphs that included open ended, and closed ended questions. All three hypothesis are confirmed. The objective of the research is developed inside the theorethical part, of this paper that since the formation of the discipline, there is no separate discipline that has considered the history of women in sociology, even though there are significant scientifically approved arguments for its establishment. The examinees stated that they do think they should have more female professors inside the sociology. Female professors in sociology are not well presented, and therefore students stated that they do not have enough knowledge about them. They know more male sociologists than female sociologists. Only three of them, know that American Sociological Association is presided over by women but they think that they do need female sociology as discipline. Therefore, female sociologists are still not recognized, inside the field of sociology. Their work is considered insignificant, in comparison to male sociologists. There is not enough knowledge in academia about female sociologists, even though there are significant contributions to Women in sociology, such as source book written by Mary Jo Deegan, in 1990-ties. All this arguments support the general thesis that female sociology is necessary inside the sociological studies, in order to enforce female empowerment in Academia.

4. Conclusion

Why do we need to mention femina sociologica idea? Other than an obvious reason, such as marginalization of female in sociology, there are several academic reasons funded and based in sociological literature. Mary Jo Deegan states that there are 118 females founders in sociology and that there was also female Chicago school because since she states that sociologists were the most of influential females in world [1, 3]. Mary Jo Deegan{5}, stated that for her the bibliographical source book on Women founders in sociology, published in 1990-ties, was a dream fulfillment. In the American Sociological Association and International Sociological Association, female sociologists become most influent and eminent in field, while as in Bosnian and Herzegovinian society and studies, this still is a predominantly male field. This investigation and discussion on problems of female marginalization in Science and Society has shown that there is not enough adequate knowledge on female founders in sociology, in Sarajevo (Bosnia). Even though the president of ASA is a female sociologist, there is not enough institutional support for advancement of females inside the sociology. The investigation inside this research paper had shown that female empowerment inside the sociological field, is necessary. The idea of Femina sociologica (5) is necessary in order to make theoretical and afterwards practical implementation of gender equality inside the discipline of sociology. Female empowerment is important for field of sociological sciences since women are still not well recognized, even though they are founders in sociology. Their work is considered insignificant, in comparison to work of male sociologists. The formation of discipline such as female sociology, as history of women in sociology, could help in demargalisation of Women in sociology.


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[4]  Mušić, L., “Female sociology as Academic discipline:problems and gender based marginalisation against female Sociologists”. Paper presented at International Congress Gender Studies in Debate: Pathways, challenges and interdisciplinary perspectives, CIEG, Lisabon, Portugal, 2016.
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In article      
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