Celebrating Women in Sociology, Past & Present

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Women Sociologists of Twentieth and Twenty-first Century: Their Contributions in the Field of Sociology

We are sharing this information to celebrate the contributions of ten women sociologists, and how they had made their place in the male-dominated academic sphere. It’s important to take a look at the eminent women sociologists who played roles as important as their male counterparts but have been constantly overshadowed by them.

The women scholars of Sociology have historically gained little to no recognition despite their contributions in shaping prominent subfields of our world’s sociological enquiry. Moreover, the male dominance in this field of Sociology has resulted in a flawed representation of women’s achievements and their achievements being recognized; also very often overshadowing their role in society, at home as well as in academia.

The ten women we will celebrate today are:

1. Harriet Martineau (1892–1876): Harriet Martineau is regarded as the first woman sociologist, or as the “Mother of Sociology”.

2. Irawati Karve: Irawati Karve is remembered as a student of G.S. Ghurye, one of the founding fathers of sociology as an academic discipline in India, is regarded as the first Indian woman sociologist, for her contributions in the field of Sociology and Anthropology.

3. Jane Addams (1860–1935): Jane Addams was an American sociologist, social worker, reformer, public administrator, and settlement activist. She pioneered the introduction of Sociology as an academic discipline in the United States.

4. Marianne Weber (1870–1954): Marianne Weber was a German Sociologist and women’s rights activist. She was the wife of Max Weber. Weber’s sociology focused on women in a patriarchal society. She challenged the male-dominated institutions of law, history, religion, and economy through her works which mostly focused on the experiences of German women.

5. Mirra Komarovsky (1905–1999): Mirra Komarovsky was an American sociologist and a pioneer in the sociology of Gender. Born to a Jewish middle-class family who fled from Russia to the United States after the 1917 Russian Revolution, she completed her Master’s degree from Columbia University.

6. Leela Dube (1923–2012): Leela Dube was the wife of renowned sociologist Shyama Charan Dube. Her works majorly focused on women in India and she heralded the introduction of women’s studies in mainstream Sociology— she played a crucial role in framing the “Towards Equality” report of the Committee on the Status of Women in India (1974), Government of India. This formally led to the inclusion of Women’s Studies in Indian Academia through the University Grants Commission (UGC).

7. Neera Desai (1925–2009): Neera Desai was one of the most prominent proponents of Women’s Studies in India. She was a researcher, professor, political activist, academician, and social worker. She was the head of the Department of Sociology, SNDT University, Mumbai. Desai gave up formal education when she joined the Elphinstone College in 1942, to take part in the Indian freedom movement. However, later, she eventually completed her Ph.D. in Sociology in 1965.

8. Dorothy E. Smith (1926–Present): Dorothy E. Smith is a Canadian sociologist whose research focuses on feminist theory, women’s studies, educational facilities, and psychology. She specializes in the sociology of knowledge, methodology, and family studies. She is the founder of the sociological sub-disciplines of institutional ethnography and feminist standpoint theory, through which she developed Marxist feminist sociology and challenged the institutional hierarchies.

9. Arlie Russel Hochschild (1940–Present): Arlie Russel Hochschild is one of the most prominent contemporary American sociologists, who is heralded for being the founder of a new subfield in Sociology— the sociology of emotions. She completed her Master’s degree and PhD. in Sociology from the University of California, where she currently teaches.

Her book ‘The Managed Heart: Commercialization of Human Feeling’ (1983) focuses on the commodification of emotion and states that it has an exchange value. Her theory encompasses a range of emotions including depression, anger, frustration, fear, guilt, contempt, love, compassion, shame, embarrassment, jealousy, envy, grief, anguish, and anxiety. She emphasized the commodification of feelings of women and analysis of the same. She coined the term ’emotional labour’

10. Patricia Hill Collins (1948–Present): Patricia Hill Collins is an American sociologist, specializing in gender, race, and class. Currently, she teaches at the University of Maryland, College Park. She is also the former president of the American Sociological Association and was the first African–American woman to have held this position. Her study emphasizes on social inequality prevalent in the African-American community, in terms of gender.

Gender roles are the expectations of the members of society from men and women that, how they ought to behave within a society. The gender roles are assigned to men and women on the basis of norms of the society. The feminist theory in sociology refers to the general process through which women gain knowledge about the structures that oppress them, and seek to alter the power imbalances in society.

The sociology of gender is one of the largest subfields within sociology and features theory and research that critically interrogates the social construction of gender, how gender interacts with other social forces in society, and how gender relates to social structure overall.

We celebrate all the brave pioneers; and praise all the women of today that diligently take on this study as their life’s work, creating new possibilities, eliminating gender issues; creating a much more balanced and stable society for our modern world.

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