The typical college student would sensibly have high hopes and bright dreams for his or her future, just as the young women—who were part of the study conducted in the book Educated in Romance: Women, Achievement, and College Culture by Dorothy C. Holland and Margaret A. Eisenhart—did. It is fair to say that the female college students who were the subjects of the study in the book had high career aspirations and sought to have rewarding careers and happy personal lives later in life. However, it would be incorrect to assume that every person who goes through college life and earns a degree will settle into a middle-class life characterized by job and spousal stability, and children who will be raised and put through the same educational system through which their parents went. Such is the case for the two groups of women in this study, both from Southern universities, with the only difference coming in the fact that one university was predominantly black and the other predominantly white. As Educated in Romance states in its introduction, the question of women in society went “beyond the question of why so few American college women were going into the high-paying traditionally male-dominated fields of math and science” (Holland, Eisenhart 3). It is imperative to observe the effect of the traditional, social expectations of women that may lead them into traditional female positions in society. The social and academic lives of these young women can only be better understood by looking at many influential factors within their lives, such as their social relations, dating practices and spousal/family obligations, societal norms, and their position to live and learn in a life dominated by male privilege—only by delving into these multiple subjects can it be better clarified why only less than one-third of “these bright and privileged women met their own expectations for the future” (Holland, Eisenhart 3).
In many instances from personal experience, there have been moments when I have chosen play over work, something that no student of any age is unfamiliar with. To go into detail, there are many times when I choose to spend time with friends and go out or do things that are not academically related, all in an effort to maximize favorable social connections and enjoy the company of good friends. Instead of staying in on a Friday night to study for a physics exam the following Monday, I chose to go out and party late in Isla Vista with hall mates and top the night off with a large order of Freebirds nachos. It is through this logic and urge to expand social connections and interactions that drive most students who have a chance to be away from home. This supports the claim made in the thesis that the social and academic lives of the young, college-aged women in the study can only be better understood by observing the many influential factors in their lives, in this case their peer social and gender relations with a large demographic of similar-aged and curious students seeking the same thing. As excerpted in Educated in Romance, “The students at SU [Southern University] and Bradford…showed signs of the good-grades ethos…but our research revealed that many remnants of the older college peer cultures persisted, especially in the area of gender relations” (Holland, Eisenhart 84). Dorothy C. Holland and Margaret A. Eisenhart, who both served as the authors of the book and the anthropologists who conducted these years-long studies, further corroborated on their belief that while in college, many students, including the women in the study, sought a social life in a higher capacity than they did an academic life, though neither blots out the other. In formulating questions for a survey of these women, Holland and Eisenhart saw from their notes of fifty-five campus activities in which women attributed varying levels of importance to, that “less than 25 percent (thirteen) of the activities were directly related to schoolwork or...
Cited: published at the University of New Hampshire Sociology Department,
New Hampshire, 2012.
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