Gender Issues- alma maters

Gender Issues: Is Your Alma Mater Biased?

by Elaine Schwartz    •    Sep 30, 2013    •    1775 Views

Reminiscing during our lunch together, a female friend who attended law school during the 1970s recalled a professor starting classes with, “Good morning, gentleman.” He also seemed to enjoy saying that the women in the class were sitting in the “lingerie section.”

With feminist activism just starting, a law professor’s bias 40 years ago seems predictable.

But 2013? The Rutgers Anthem?

All male until 1972, the Rutgers student body is now 53% female.  However, their alma mater began with,  “My father sent me to Old Rutgers and resolved that I should be a man.” This year, the school made the switch. The new first line is, “From far and near we came to Rutgers and resolved to learn all we can.”

Like Rutgers, at West Point, Penn State, Princeton, Dartmouth and Davidson, alma maters have had gender bias. Each one, once all male, waited decades after admitting women for new lyrics. “Men of Dartmouth” became “Dear Old Dartmouth.” At Davidson, “Our fathers loved thee” became “Thy loyal founders loved thee,” while “their loyal sons undaunted” was replaced by “thy loyal sons and daughters.”

I also discovered that Austria had a problem. With their national anthem proclaiming, “Home you are to great sons, ” in 2012 they instead said, “Home you are to great daughters, sons.”

I would like to suggest that an institutional gender bias, even in a song, helps to perpetuate an economic bias that can affect women’s job and salary opportunities.

A question: Your opinion?

Sources and resources: A NY Times article alerted me to anthems that had gender issues while this column from The Guardian added further facts.

Please note that ending of this post has been edited.

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