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January 2

Compiled and Written by Irene Stuber
who is solely responsible for its content.
This document has been taken from emailed versions
of Women of Achievement. The complete episode
will be published here in the future.


Gender Stereotyping in Sunday Schools

M. Carey Thomas, influential American educator


QUOTES by Kathe Kollwitz and Abigail Lewis.

Gender Stereotyping in Sunday Schools

      A mid-1990s survey of Sunday School materials indicated that churches were continuing to teach of stereotypical roles for men and women to the impressionable children of 5-7 years old.
      And surprisingly, the so-called liberal churches and the so-called reactionary churches were not far apart in their depictions of role models for kindergarten and first grade children.
      In a survey by the Rev. Gail Murphy-Geiss presented to the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion indicated only 1 percent of the men portrayed in conservative Sunday School publications and 3% of men in liberal church publications were shown in non-traditional roles in biblical scenes.
      One non-traditional scene might be Joseph holding the baby, not Mary - although when that happened, Mary was always right there.
      For women, only 2% of those shown in conservative materials were shown in non-traditional roles while 1% of liberal materials showed them in non-traditional roles.
      In contemporary scenes, the percentages were better, but hardly good.
      In both liberal and reactionary church materials, only 5% of the men were portrayed in non-traditional roles while 3% of women in reactionary and 7% of women in liberal churches were shown as anything but mothers and housewives.
      Rev. Murphy-Geiss pointed out that although the figures were poor, they showed a huge difference from the prior three decades which showed NO women or men in non-traditional roles.
      Oddly enough, in liberal churches, 38% of their material showed women in clergy - which is a much higher percentage than reality.
      Rev. Murphy-Geiss said "the church doesn't overtly work toward the eradication of their Sunday school materials at all."
      A sociologist reviewing the study said, "I just don't know if the churches are aware of what they are communicating through their Sunday school materials. Those years are very important for forming gender identity."

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M. Carey Thomas

      Born 01-02-1857, M. Carey Thomas, influential American educator, women's rights advocate, and longtime president of Bryn Mawr College, had to study privately at Johns Hopkins University because as a woman she could not attend classes. Advised that she could get an advanced degree in Europe, she traveled to Germany with longtime companion Mamie Gwinn.
      MCT earned a doctorate at Leipzig but was refused the honors because of her sex. She finally received her Ph.D., summa cum laude in Zurich. At times she had been forced to sit behind a screen at the German universities of Leipzig and G”ttinger so her presence wouldn't distract the male students. When Bryn Mawr was formed in 1885, she was appointed Dean through family connections. She also taught English. In 1894 by a single vote, she was named president and remained president until 1922.
      MCT's later longtime companion Mary Garrett used her fortune to found Bryn Mawr School for Girls (1885), a college preparatory school in Baltimore. Garrett then pledged funds that forced Johns Hopkins University to guarantee women would be taught there "forever."
      Together, Thomas and Garrett changed education for women in America. MCT's insistence on high academic standards made Bryn Mawr the equal or better academically than any other college in America. Its entrance exams were as stringent as those for Harvard University. She would not have her school called a finishing school for young ladies!
      An avid suffragist, she served in leadership positions with various suffrage associations and was an early promoter of the Equal Rights Amendment. Inheriting Garrett's wealth in 1915, Thomas traveled extensively in Europe and India. A powerful personality with many good and bad traits, she had a zest for living. Was she arbitrary? Too much the disciplinarian? So her critics say, but above all else, she was the primary architect of one of the great women's colleges of this country.

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Event 01-02-1611: the trial of Countess Erszebet Bathory began in Transylvania. Tagged the Countess Dracula in modern books, she supposedly killed 610 people, mostly young women, and used their remains for medicinal purposes, i.e., to stay young and beautiful.

B. 01-02-1713, Mademoiselle Dumesnil, French tragic actor who specialized in the plays of Voltaire and Jean Racine.

B. 01-02-1839, Ouida (Maria Louisa Ram‚), British writer who was among the largest sellers of her day, a free thinker who addressed women's rights.

B. 01-02-1854, Alice Mary Robertson, American educator and U. S. Congressional Representative from Oklahoma. AMR was the daughter of Ann Eliza Worcester Robertson (B. 11-07-1826), the noted Indian linguist who translated the New Testament into the Creek language.

B. 01-02-1873, Saint Therese of Lisieux, known as the "Little Flower of Jesus," entered the nunnery at 15, died at 24, and was canonized in 1925 when she would have been 52. After her death her spiritual autobiography Historire d'une ame (The Story of a Soul) (1898, Eng. trans. 1958) became a worldwide sensation. Her shrine at Lisieux became a major place of pilgrimage. The Little Flower's canonization celebrated an ordinary person doing little things. Some critics claim the Historire was heavily edited and were not her "simple" words at all.

B. 01-02-1886, Florence Lawrence was probably the first true movie star in the grand tradition. She was known as the "Imp Girl" before World War I.

B. 01-02-1887, Agnes Elizabeth Ernst Meyer, journalist, writer, philanthropist, married a man 12 years her senior, and in spite of five children took a trip to China alone and wrote the book Chinese Painting as Reflected in the Thought and Art of Li Lung-mien 1070-1106, (1923). Years later, after her husband bought the Washington Post, she condemned American women as selfish and materialistic who neglected her primary vocation: motherhood.
      She influenced President Lyndon Johnson to form the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare and commit federal aid to education. Her autobiography is Out of These Roots (1953). She said "A woman's place is in the home - but not just one home."

Event: 01-02-1890, Alice B. Sanger of Indianapolis broke 100 years of tradition by becoming the first woman to be employed by the executive branch of the United States government for something other than domestic service. She was hired as a stenographer to President Benjamin Harrison. In 1932 President Franklin Delano Roosevelt appointed Francis Perkins Secretary of Labor, the first woman to ever serve in a US cabinet role.

B. 01-02-1904, Sally Rand, American actor and exotic dancer who became famous as a bubble or fan dancer.

Event 01-02-1906: the New Hampshire State Supreme Court rules women cannot be notary publics.

Event 01-02-1974: a federal court struck down as unconstitutional a Georgia law that forbade a woman from voting in Georgia if her husband maintained a legal residence in another state.

Event 01-02-1991 Sharon Dixon (Kelly) sworn in as mayor of Washington D.C. becoming the first black woman to head a city of that size.

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      "I do not want to die until I have faithfully made the most of my talent and cultivated the seed that was placed in me, until the last small twig has grown."
            -- Kathe Kollwitz, German artist, in her Diaries and Letters.

      "A woman's sense of time must be quite different from a man's. Her sense of continuity is internal and natural.
      "She connects directly to the source of time, and the moon that pulls the tides around the world also pulls the hormone tide within her; her months are marked off without need of calendar.
      "She carries her months, her years, her spring and winter within her."
            -- Abigail Lewis

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