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Book Chapter

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Published Version

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Women, Science, and Myth: Gender Beliefs from Antiquity to the Present.

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Evolution of the American educational system has been shaped in multiple ways by concepts of appropriate gender roles and the value of different types of learning. In colonial America, while some schools offered boys and girls the same coursework, other teaching both reflected and reinforced gender divisions (Nash 2005). Some towns limited girls' training to basic reading and arithmetic, assuming that academics would prove less valuable to women than domestic skills such as sewing. Even as public high schools began to open over subsequent decades, they similarly focused the education of girls on cultivating them to become good wives and mothers. Poverty and race also determined girls' educational access. And although laws in some parts of the South banned teaching slaves to read and write, some owners cultivated slaves' literacy to enhance their usefulness or enable them to read the Bible.


This chapter is published as "Women's Education," Women. Science, and Myth: Gender Beliefs from Antiquity to the Present. Sue Rosser, ed. (Santa Barbara: ABC-Clio, 2008): 213-22 1. Posted with permission.

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ABC Clio



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