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Women’s Ways of Knowing. Mary Field Belenky Blythe McVicker Clinchy Nancy Rule Goldberger Jill Mattuck Tarule. 5 Epistemological Perspectives. Not stages Not fixed or universal Abstract The 5 Perspectives Silence Received Knowledge Subjective Knowledge Procedural Knowledge

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women s ways of knowing

Women’s Ways of Knowing

Mary Field Belenky

Blythe McVicker Clinchy

Nancy Rule Goldberger

Jill Mattuck Tarule

5 epistemological perspectives
5 Epistemological Perspectives
  • Not stages
  • Not fixed or universal
  • Abstract
  • The 5 Perspectives
    • Silence
    • Received Knowledge
    • Subjective Knowledge
    • Procedural Knowledge
    • Constructed Knowledge
  • Deprived socially, economically, and educationally
  • “Deaf and Dumb”
    • Deaf – had to be shown how to do something and not told
    • Dumb – voiceless
  • Need a supportive environment to learn
  • Women are passive and incompetent (seen but not heard)
  • Conceiving the self
    • Can only describe themselves from an inside point and not an outside point
    • Cannot describe future changes because they do not anticipate the future
silence continued
Silence continued
  • Quotes from Women’s Ways of Knowing
    • “I deserved to be hit, because I was always mouthing off.”
    • “I don’t like talking to my husband. If I were to say no, he might hit me.”
    • “I had to get drunk to tell people off.”
  • What College Professors Can Do
    • Realize that women question their capabilities and intellectual capacity more than men
    • Have students use personal experiences to find meaning and understanding
    • Do not ignore good answers but give praise
transition to received knowing
Transition to Received Knowing
  • Experiences that led to development…
    • formal education
    • childbearing
    • family trauma
    • difficult or challenging relationships
    • exposure to other cultures
    • a new kind of work
    • psychotherapy
  • By communicating to their children, silent women found that they could communicate and pass on knowledge.
received knowledge
Received Knowledge
  • Learn by listening
    • Listening to friends
      • Enjoy have a lot in common with others and may change their own thoughts to match
    • Listening to authorities
      • Authorities knew everything and did not disagree with each other
  • Learning=Memorizing
    • Cannot read between the lines and take everything literally
  • Conceiving the Selfless Self
    • Can only see themselves from how others see them
transition to subjective knowing
Transition to Subjective Knowing
  • Experiences that led to development…
    • Relationships exhibiting mutuality, equality, and reciprocity
    • Praise and reinforcement
    • Exposure to a diversity of opinions
  • Education alienated these women and did not help them to develop, instead their personal life did.
  • Women who did not advance cognitively usually dropped out of college.
subjective knowledge
Subjective Knowledge
  • Sexually harassed and abused
  • The inner voice
    • Their own authority (external to internal)
    • Relied on their experience and feelings for knowledge
  • The quest for self
    • Left current situation to live for self rather than others
  • Concepts of self
    • Beginning viewing themselves differently because their life was changing
transition to procedural knowing
Transition to Procedural Knowing
  • Experiences that led to development…
    • An inner sense of self, voice, and mind begin to develop and create an inner contradiction.
    • Their personal experience leading to their own sense of authority.
  • Realized they could know things that they never came in contact with.
  • Could hear themselves think while they were listening which would soon develop into reflecting and critical thinking.
procedural knowledge
Procedural Knowledge
  • Privileged, intelligent, white, young, homogeneous, and attended or graduated from college.
  • The voice of reason
    • More active and powerful voice
    • Old ways of knowing challenged
  • Spoke with the voices of separate and connected knowing.
    • Separate knowing
      • Sought knowledge and evaluated knowledge claims.
      • Mastery over the knowledge but separated from knowing.
    • Connected knowing
      • Sought to go beyond knowledge, to understanding.
      • Understanding the knowledge gave a relationship to it.
transition to constructed knowledge
Transition to Constructed Knowledge
  • Experiences that led to development…
    • Self-Reflection/Self-Analysis
    • Removing themselves from the current life either psychologically or geographically
    • Needed to integrate thinking with feeling and rationality with emotionality.
  • After a self examination they realize how knowledge, truth, and self guide their life.
constructed knowledge
Constructed Knowledge
  • Reclaiming self
  • Integrating the voices
    • Integration of self, mind, and voice.
  • Articulate and reflective
  • Rise to a new way of thinking
  • Realize that knowledge is constantly being constructed, deconstructed, and reconstructed.

Belenky, M.F., Clinchy, B.M., Goldberger, N.R., & Tarule, J.M. (1986). Women’s ways of knowing. New York: Basic Books.

Gallos, J. V. (1995). Gender and silence: Implications of women's ways of knowing. College Teaching, 43(3), 101-105.

Love, P. G., &  Guthrie, L. (1999). Women's ways of knowing. New Directions for Student Services, no. 88, 17-27.

Other Readings

Gose, B. (1995). "Women's Ways of Knowing" form the basis for Ursuline curriculum. Chronicle of Higher Education, 41(22) [No Pagination].

Handy, T. J. (1991). "Women's Ways of Knowing": Explanations and implications for gender differences in substance abuse. College Student Affairs Journal, 11(2), 16-24.