Schooling Girls, Queuing Women
reviewed by Sophia Neely, Loyola M. Pasiewicz & Karen Monkman - October 23, 2015
Professor of sociology and womens studies Helen A. Moore synthesizes a vast body of research from the fields of economics, sociology, and education to contest recent interpretations of U.S. census and other data that suggest that womens educational achievement now exceeds mens. Through a kaleidoscope of theoretical lensesincluding materialist feminism, standpoint theory, hegemonic masculinity, and colonizationMoore analyzes gendered and racialized schooling experiences that are different and unequal (p. 19). She relates gendered and racialized educational degree patterns (p. 47) to Reskin and Roos (1990) queuing theory, which shows how economic structures link women differently to waged work (p. 3). As educators, we particularly appreciated Moores illumination of the compelling link between K16 schooling experiences in the United States and patterns of job segregation by sex (p. 14).
Moore cites statistics on college majors, degrees, professions, and wages filtered by gender, race, and class to demonstrate that greater high school and college graduation rates for women do not yield greater economic success after college. She echoes many feminist researchers in arguing that tracking and queuing processes in schools and the workforce are biased in favor of white middle- and upper-class males due to their privileged access to multiple forms of cultural capital. Moore describes lived experiences of Native American, Chicana, Latina, African American, and lesbian women to demonstrate how inequalities are intensified for people who face oppression on multiple fronts. She categorizes different forms of capital within gendered, racialized, and capitalist economies and shows how the resulting stratification privileges the dominant gender, race, and social class (see Table 2.7, pp. 66-67). Her definition of what she calls resistance capital has clear pedagogical implications: Oppositional behavior [that resists reproduction of the status quo] generates skills and knowledge (p. 67), including awareness of structural oppression. Moore highlights resistance capital as an important resource for those who are not members of the dominant culture; she believes that [l]iberatory, antiracist, womanist, and feminist educational practices open up our schools and classrooms as a space for theorizing social justice and creating educational praxis for social change (p. 209).
Along with feminist literature on gender socialization, Moore cites research mostly from the 1980s and 1990s to expose how male privilege and gender bias create conditions for women in secondary schools and colleges that are challenging at best and hazardous at worst. Drawing on the work of Robbin (1992) and Stein (1993), Moore argues, School yards are training grounds for domestic violence, hate crimes, and workplace harassment (p. 92). Debunking five myths about sexual harassment and sexual assault, Moore shows how gender-related bullying and sexual harassment limit womens access to social capital, thereby reinforcing their unfavorable positions in educational tracks and job queues. The older research that Moore cites in this section of the book is still relevant todaya lamentable reminder of how little has changed for women in a society still governed by patriarchal bias.
In a briefer discussion of queer issues, heterosexism, and hegemonic masculinity, Moores examples of lesbians in academia 20 years ago are an important acknowledgment of yet another system of oppression that relegates lesbian women of various races to lower positions in educational and professional queues: The intersection of minority sexualities with racism, sexism, colonization, and harassment sets the stage for understanding the queering of the queue within schooling. These processes are often embedded in heterosexism (p. 133). Noting the link between homophobia and sexism, Moore astutely theorizes that even queer studies programs can perpetuate the marginalization of lesbians, since they tend to emphasize gay male issues and literature. Nevertheless, Moore suggests that discussions related to LGBTQ issues at any grade level can help build resistance capital while also being pedagogically sound. All students, she says, would benefit from the critical-thinking skills necessary to map connections between cultural messages about lesbian lives, schooling curricula, and heterocentric biases in scholarship (p. 132).
Like Moore, we are concerned with fostering critical thinking skills in students; therefore, her familiar arguments against standardized testing in a chapter entitled, Testing Whiteness: No (Girl) Child Left Behind? resonated with us. Her critique of NCLB was timelier in an earlier version of this chapter (Moore 2005), but her exposure of the white and male privilege inherent in the now expired NCLB legislation and its implementation is clearly relevant to the ongoing debate over standardized testing. Students who perform well on standardized tests, which are gatekeepers to higher education, have knowledge of the dominant cultures values, language, and test-taking strategies. As a specific ethnic group whose members often have difficulty with standardized tests and are funneled into low-wage, feminized jobs, Chicanas offer an opportunity to challenge NCLB policies that appear neutral on their face as testing merit but that gender and racialize testing dynamics (p. 138).
In an intriguing examination of Chicana students and educators in the United States, Moore unpacks the multiple systems of oppression that Chicanas must negotiate, especially given sexist depictions of certain women taught as part of Chicano history (e.g., Malintzin Tenepal, a sixteenth century slave condemned for becoming Cortés mistress) (p. 161). Moore, however, also points to feminist reinterpretations of these historical figures as a form of resistance capital. For example, Malintzin is recast variously as a victim of both Mayan indigenous slavery and Spanish colonization and as a liberator of her own oppressed people (p. 162). Citing Yasso (2005), Moore says, when a Chicana builds her education on what she knows, her cultural capital generates a far more challenging curriculum and transforms into resistance capital (p. 162).
Moore offers additional suggestions for critical pedagogies that encourage students to question the status quo, but she acknowledges challenges for students and teachers who engage in these heretical curricula (p. 205). Although she urges educators to adopt multicultural classroom practices, we are disheartened by Moores persuasive conclusions about the hegemonic staying power of patriarchal influence. She suggests several ways in which access to resistance capital can backfire; for example, racialized identity is contested within racialized economies, and female autonomy is sanctioned within gendered economies (p. 67).
Moore blends theory and third-wave feminist practices in this comprehensive work, but her lack of specific attention to present-day LGBTQ concerns is a limitation. The fact that less than 30% of the cited references in the bibliography are from the 21st century is not in itself a shortcoming since most, sadly, are still relevant. However, support from more recent literature would have underscored the urgency of her claims. While it is true that some lesbians in academia still face discrimination and microaggressions (e.g., Bilimoria & Stewart, 2009), Moore could have furthered her argument by focusing on specific concerns and oppression of transgender students and facultyand on the idea that cisgender bias is also rooted in sexism and hegemonic masculinity. In addition, Moore could have clarified the link between school tracking and labor queuing with support from Lopez (2003), who reveals oppressive racialization and gendering processes (p. 6) in urban, low-income schools to explain how women of color graduate at higher rates than their male counterparts but still end up in lower-wage pink-collar vocational tracks (p. 58).
That said, one book cannot do everything; Schooling Girls, Queuing Women is an ambitious undertaking that calls much-needed attention to the myth of educational gender equity. The author offers a thorough analysis of how and why discrimination on the basis of gender, race, class, and sexuality persists and is reproduced in U.S. educational institutions and, subsequently, in the workforce. This book will appeal to socially conscious educators who seek a more refined understanding of the complex web of intersecting and insidious forces that combine to keep white males of means at the front of social and economic queues and all others to fall in behind them, both within and beyond school settings.
Bilimoria, D., & Stewart, A. J. (2009). Dont ask, dont tell: The academic climate for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender faculty in science and engineering. NWSA Journal, 21(2), 85103.
Lopez, N. (2003). Hopeful girls, troubled boys: Race and gender disparity in urban education. New York, NY: Routledge.
Moore, H. (2005). Testing whiteness: No child or no school left behind? Washington University Journal of Law and Policy, 18(1), 173201.
Reskin, B., & Roos, P. (1990). Job queues, gender queues. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press.
Robbin, D. J. (1992). Educating against gender based violence. Newton, MA: Womens Educational Equity Act Publishing Center.
Stein, N. (1993). No laughing matter: Sexual harassment in K12 schools. In E. Buchwald, P. Fletcher, & M. R. Walsh (Eds.), Transforming a rape culture (pp. 311334). Seattle, WA: Milkweed Press.
Yasso, T. (2005). Whose culture has capital? A critical race theory discussion of community cultural wealth. Race, Ethnicity and Education, 8(1), 6991.