Drawing on historical data, Jackie Blount argues in this article that explanations for shifts in employment patterns of women educators for most of the twentieth century have overlooked the impact of homophobia and gender role stereotypes. As Blount notes, although women teachers, more than half of whom were single, outnumbered men by more than two to one in the early 1900's, this trend shifted radically in the fifteen years following World War II, when the percentage of single women in the teaching profession fell to half its pre-war levels. Similarly, the number of women superintendents also declined rapidly. Blount analyzes school policies and practices, events, and publications from the turn of the century to the 1970s to uncover the practice of sexually stigmatizing women who defied narrowly defined gender roles. She describes events and theories that led to increasing gender role polarization after World War II that pressured women into assuming gender-specific roles, attitudes, and appearances, and that led to increasing gender role polarization after World War II that led to campaigns to identify and dismiss those in schools who were thought to be homosexual. Blount cautions that homophobia continues to hold sex discrimination practices in place, particularly those connected with women seeking power in schools. She concludes with the thought that until gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender educators are valued in public education, the powerful forces that maintain gender role barriers are unlikely to be erased.
Manly Men and Womanly Women: Deviance, Gender Role Polarization, and the Shift in Women's School Employment, 1900–1976
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Jackie Blount; Manly Men and Womanly Women: Deviance, Gender Role Polarization, and the Shift in Women's School Employment, 1900–1976. Harvard Educational Review 1 July 1996; 66 (2): 318–339. doi: https://doi.org/10.17763/haer.66.2.q24710621vp7k518
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