Postplatform : Need to change course

Aug 7, 2014-

High on the global agenda at present is promoting the idea that women have what it takes. Women around the world are made to believe that they are no less than men. In more developed societies, modern women are made to believe that they can have it all. In other words, they can successfully juggle a career and a family at the same time. Does this mean that the patriarchal ideologies are finally coming to an end? At least we know that they have started to diminish.

In Nepal, women are being encouraged, and have successfully taken a stand for themselves many times. However, amid all this development, most of society including the so-called modern women continues to view men as superior and more intelligent. Furthermore, patriarchal ideologies have not been eliminated even in classrooms where students are being taught about gender equality. One of the causes of such an irony is the under-representation of women scholars in the course outline. It is astonishing to see how, despite the changes in society’s views regarding women, the course syllabus is still lingering in the past. The debilitating effect of this is seen when one is asked a simple question, “When I say the word ‘scholar’, what image comes to your mind?” Most students (at least the ones I’ve encountered) have an image of a man in their minds.

Even today, the tendency to under-represent the contribution of women in any field is persistent. For instance, the names of Maurice Wilkin, Francis Crick and James D Watson are quite popular to biology students studying about genes. But very few students know Rosalind Franklin who, in fact, had an equal contribution. Another example is the marginalisation of women by literary history. Not many students have heard the names of Susan Glaspell, Ellen Glasgow, Rolla Lyn Riggs or Gertrude Stein. A more unsettling example is how many readers of George Eliot do not know that she was a woman.

Many people find it difficult to comprehend how such “trivial” matters have any effect on gender equality. What they fail to understand is the underlying consequence of such marginalisation that implicitly creates a mind-set in students making them think that only men have excelled in their respective fields. Including the contributions of women in the course outline not only gives the women their due credit but also helps the students to analyse the entire truth of civilisation, and not merely the one created by men. Moreover, mentioning women scholars helps to inspire female students who are silently sitting at the back of the classroom lacking any inspiration.

A revised course outline needs to be created so that a better representation of women is depicted, and both men and women scholars get a chance to flourish. It is not possible to address all the issues.

- ROSHANI REGMI

Published: 08-08-2014 09:11

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