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by Nancy Goldberger,Jill Mattuck Tarule,Blythe McVicker Clincy,Mary Field Belenky

The authors of this provocative book pursue the disturbing question "Why are so many women reluctant to speak up for what they think?" in candid interviews with 135 women, rich and poor, young and old, well-educated and unschooled.
Download Women's Ways Of Knowing epub
ISBN: 0465092136
ISBN13: 978-0465092130
Category: Medical Books
Subcategory: Psychology
Author: Nancy Goldberger,Jill Mattuck Tarule,Blythe McVicker Clincy,Mary Field Belenky
Language: English
Publisher: Basic Books (April 11, 1988)
Pages: 272 pages
ePUB size: 1807 kb
FB2 size: 1119 kb
Rating: 4.5
Votes: 843
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I am an educator at a law faculty and I take my teaching very seriously. Until I read this book I had very set ideas about how my students learn, and particularly about the quiet ones and their lack of will or preparation. This book blew my antiquated ideas out of the water and I have found it to be truly enlightening to consider that my female students may be learning entirely differently from how most of my male students learn, and that if I ask questions in a different way, it invites debates which are more inclusive, and affirms those (male or female) who otherwise feel excluded.

In particular the distinction between separate and connected learning has been really eye-opening for me. Reading this book has shed a new light on my own learning processes and on the kinds of debates I have with friends, whether or not they are highly educated. Fantastic work written int he 1980's which still has so much to teach us today.
Read this many years ago, and it makes as much sense today as it did when first published. A classic for Women's Studies.
There are five categories of women who know (or think).

First, the "silent knower" comprised only 2% of the survey group of 135 women--these women were deprived socially, economically, and educationally, which is why they viewed words as weapons to diminish people. Thus these women did not tend to have dialogue within themselves (pp. 24-25). They tended not to have confidence to learn from either experience or words (p. 26). They did not seem to relate to others in a sense of "we-ness" (p. 27). Such women tended to receive the labels as immature, impulsive, acting-out, hyperactive, delinquent, and of a short attention span (p. 28). This woman is common in Third World countries, and must be integrated with more developed women in order to open her horizons. An approach to this kind of woman would be "to speak" to her through actions of kindness and generosity.

Second, the "received knower" sees ideas as concrete and falling into dualistic modes (right/wrong, true/false, etc.)--these women are apt "to see the emperor in full regalia" because they conform to authorities as sources of truth (pp. 37-38), and these authorities (usually male--p. 45) are infinitely capable of receiving knowledge and retaining the "right answer" with impeccable precision (p. 40). Paradox is therefore inconceivable to these women, which is why they have trouble with understanding poetry, for example (pp. 41-42). They strive to subordinate their own actions to the symbolic representations of the good that they are able to hear in the voices of others (p. 46). These women are thus followers--they look to others as their "fount of truth," and therefore need "midwife teachers" (pp. 217-19) in order to put these women into conversation with other voices past and present.

Third, the "subjective knower" views the fountain of truth as within, and, therefore, can negate the answers of the outside world (pp. 54, 61, 69). (One-half of the 135 women interviewed were in this category--p. 55.) She distrusts logic, analysis, abstraction, and even language (p. 71). These women tend to come from families that were less advantaged, more permissive, more chaotic than the average (p. 56), which is why they tend not to have a coherent, reflective moral maturity (p. 77): they thus have no clear self-concept, but yet at the same time tend to be positive, as they are open to novelty or to the curious (pp. 82, 84). On the one hand, they tend to have a negative view of male authority, because such figures were either absent in their lives or were sources of emotional, sexual, and/or verbal abuse (pp. 57-59, 79). This is why they tend to rely on female peers, mothers, sisters, and grandmothers for knowledge and truth (p. 60). Such women are best influences by life stories to convey knowledge.

Fourth, the "procedural knower" is well practiced at the art of being a university student (p. 87). These women tend to be privileged, white, young academics--their outlook on life tends toward the worship of "methodolatry," because they tend toward "the chilling academic analyses of problems" (pp. 87, 93-95). They do not accommodate knowledge; instead they assimilate it (p. 123), because they know that intuition or "gut feelings" may deceive; that is, some truths are truer than others, etc., and hence they rely heavily on procedures, skills, techniques (pp. 93-94, 99). They place form over substance (pp. 95, 97), which is why they tend to feel like chameleons or frauds (pp. 124, 129). The subcategory of the "separate procedural knower" tends toward impersonal rules, impersonal reason, and a sense of justice; and these women tend to be tomboys--and so are tough-minded women who seek to weed out their biases from knowledge so as to arrive at the flower of pure reason (pp. 101-104, 109). To them, using doubt as a way to test knowledge is not a good game, and is actually taken personally (p. 105). The other subcategory is the "connected knower" in this context tends toward care and relationships with a capacity for empathy in others (pp. 101-02, 113). Again, form rather than content is central, and thus (to use a double negative) nothing human would be alien to them (pp. 115-17) For these women, one must be careful not to make light of disagreements in those cases where form (the superficial?) dominates substance. (For these women, they must learn that inductive logic is the art and deductive logic is the science, for which the procedural knower would tend to depend too heavily.)

Finally, the "constructed knower" maintained the voice of integration--she brought together reason, intuition, and the expertise of others (pp. 133-34) with an open mind and open heart (p. 141). She was articulate, reflective (p. 134), and was seriously preoccupied with the moral and spiritual dimensions of her life (p. 150). This woman had a high tolerance for internal contradiction and ambiguity (p. 137) because truth was a matter of context (p. 138-39). She could recognize an expert as one who appreciated the complex but who maintained an air of humility about their knowledge (p. 139). These women may find intimate relationships difficult to maintain, especially if they speak their minds (p. 140). These women aspire to the kind of work that contributes to the empowerment and improvement in the quality of the lives of others (p. 152). These women are the self-actualizers, who emphasize the complexity of problems and ones responsibility to use knowledge to help others (and not just to help ones self).

Interestingly the book highlighted that of 135 women surveyed, half disclosed that there were victims of some form of incest or sexual abuse, and that these life experiences had an effect on their perceptions of the male gender. This book was fascinating, and difficult to put down -- certainly a must read.
I needed this book for a class on women's memoirs. I was so glad that there was a kindle version; my book back is full enough with large text books. So, the kindle version is helpful in that respect. I look forward to this book helping with writing and understanding the memoir process.
This book is just what I needed. It delves into the various ways women observe, assimilate and experience life and their response.
Well-done book, worth a read for an understanding of different "ways of knowing." Will keep this and re-read it, maybe many times. I even got an extra one to lend out.
I originally read this book as a required text in a Nursing BSN program. It is absolutely excellent!
I re-purchased the book as a reference and because it had a significant impact on feminist studies.

Yes, I have read the comments from those who feel it minimizes womens' place in academia and the world, but we have to remember it is a story of development, not a feminist Bible.
Read it with an open mind and and open heart. It makes a difference.
(submitted by a male Nursing Doctoral student)