Caroline Walker Bynum’s memoir-like essay of being a female professor in the 1960s and 1970s strikingly explains some of the cultural factors that allowed women to begin advancing in academia. At a time when women were not allowed to dine in the Harvard Faculty Club or join certain learned societies, there was of course backlash when women began breaching those bastions of old boys’ clubs.
Yet as Bynum points out, “Women, who had never been in the club, didn’t notice much when it disappeared. Sometimes quietly, sometimes aggressively, they began to fill some of the few places that were available.” This is true in other spheres of society as well – and it carries warnings to women, not to get so caught up with in-fighting that we let distrust of each other weaken our already-tenuous positions.
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