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(Re)constructing women: scaled portrayals of privilege and gender norms on campus

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How are privilege and/or particular gender norms for women spatially (re)produced over time and how are they challenged and changed? In interviews and mental mapping exercises with 32 students and graduates of an elite US women's college from graduating classes spanning 1937 to 2006, women's class and gender norms and expectations are found to have been produced, reproduced and reworked in their everyday experiences during college. Participants portray these norms through the scales of the body, institution and extra-institution in regards to the particular social and physical space of the campus. Participants’ experiences, as depicted in these scales, indicate that class norms remained stable over generational cohorts, but gender norms shifted drastically because the privilege found within and granted by the elite women's college campus allowed for and prompted such changes. Transformations of women's gender norms also correspond with changes in the larger social sphere with a particular split in how participants could enact their privilege to alter their gender norms before and after the late 1960s.

Keywords: United States; campus; class; gender; mental mapping narratives; scale; women's colleges

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Environmental Psychology, The Graduate Center, City University of New York, New York, NY 10016, USA, Email:

Publication date: 2007-09-01

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