Feminizing the university: the mobilities, careers, and contributions of early female academics in the University of Cambridge, 1926-1955

2017-01-05T11:16:50Z (GMT) by Heike Jons
This article examines the role of early female academics at the University of Cambridge in the production and dissemination of knowledge between 1926 and 1955. A statistical comparison of women’s use of academic leave of absence with that of their male colleagues reveals that, across disciplines, women were less integrated into (inter)national knowledge networks and thus less visible in their epistemic communities than men because women focused their academic leaves more on research, rarely attended conferences, travelled overseas less often than men, and went more frequently to destinations within Europe than the United States as the new economic hegemon. Biographical case studies of these early female academics demonstrate the importance, variously, of their upper middle class background, academic excellence, and familial and non-familial patronage in developing their careers, overcoming multiple hurdles, and producing intellectual contributions of equal quality to that of their male peers. Conceptually, this article calls for the inclusion of academic travelers from other disciplines than geography into feminist histories of geographical knowledge and argues that rather than stereotyping gender differences, greater comparative research on the experiences of female and male academics is needed in order to understand the mechanisms of gender inequality within the university.