Term of Award

Spring 2002

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Curriculum Studies

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (restricted to Georgia Southern)

Committee Chair

Delores D. Liston

Committee Member 1

Cordelia Douzenis

Committee Member 2

William M. Reynolds

Committee Member 3

Sharon E. Taylor

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to develop a comprehensive picture of the current positions of women in mathematics departments of colleges and universities in Georgia. Historically mathematics has been a subject studied and taught primarily by males, and even though more females teach mathematics today, an inequity still exists in positions of power and prestige in mathematics departments in higher education. This study, grounded in feminist standpoint theory, asked two questions: 1) What is the general status of women in mathematics in higher education today? 2) How are the lived experiences of women in Georgia related to these general pictures? I gathered and analyzed quantitative data regarding four indicators of power and prestige: rank, tenure status, degree status, and salary. I then interviewed women about their lived experiences and compared their stories to the quantitative findings as a validity check

I sent a survey letter to chairs of mathematics departments in 16 public and 21 private colleges and universities in Georgia, asking them to provide specific information about their faculty. I received information from 13 ot the public institutions, but 1 only received data trom 3 private institutions. Analysis of the quantitative data indicated that more males than females held the rank of full professor, more males than females were tenured, more males than females held the prestigious Ph.D. in Mathematics, and therefore, males had higher average salaries than females. Females, therefore, occupied marginalized positions in mathematics departments in higher education in Georgia.

I interviewed 12 women from colleges and universities in Georgia, using an interview guide of seventeen questions specifically chosen to allow me to compare the experiences of women in mathematics in higher education in Georgia with the quantitative findings. Considering the four indicators of power, the qualitative findings agreed with the quantitative results. The voices of the women confirmed that inequity does exist, and that women had to work harder to overcome barriers that men in their departments did not face in their effort to attain positions of power and prestige. Strategies were sought that would enable females in mathematics departments to overcome barriers that would prevent them from obtaining prestigious positions in mathematics departments in colleges and universities in Georgia.

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