Jane Addams - The Work

The Chicago Men and the Sociology of Women

Careers in sociology are created and maintained in three ways:through institutional practices of training and hiring, throughthe development and acceptance of sociological concepts, and throughcollegial networks. In a patriarchal society, these factors arestructured differently for each sex, with men receiving betterbenefits and more power than women.

For Addams, her career in sociology was directly associated withthe academy's barriers to hiring women as fully recognized professors.In fact when she was a college student, women were rarely allowedeven to matriculate in universities with advanced degrees. Inthis restrictive milieu, the University of Chicago was relativelyopen to the training of women and to their marginal employmentin departments.

More specifically, the Department of Sociology admitted femalestudents from the day it opened its doors in 1892, and even hada female faculty member, Marion Talbot. Soon, more women werehired in low-paid and low status positions. This "radical"policy was a result of sociology's zealous approach to "scientific"social change. The "woman question" was part of thesocial reform agenda. However, most of the Chicago men were morecommitted to urban reform than improving the status of women.

The Chicago men's views on the role of women in everyday lifewere central to Addams' career in sociology. The men's institutionalsupport of women was dramatically reflected in 1902 by their supportof or opposition to the introduction of sex-segregated classesduring the first two years of training at the University of Chicago.Similarly, the men's sociological writings, particularly on women,provide a key to understanding their intellectual relationshipto Addams' writings on cultural feminism. Another indicator ofthe sexual division of labor in the profession is found in thework relationships between male and female sociologists. Theseties are exhibited through joint interests in teaching and researchas well as overlapping ideas and patterns of social interaction.Before analyzing each man's writings and collegial network concerningwomen, the general milieu of women's higher education, particularlyat the University of Chicago is described.

From Mary Jo Deegan, Jane Addams and the Men of the Chicago School, 1892-1918.New Brunswick NJ: Transaction Books, 1986, pp. 191.

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