LINGUIST List 6.1567

Mon Nov 6 1995

Disc: Women in linguistics

Editor for this issue: Ljuba Veselinova <>


  1. Sam Wang, Re: 6.1557, Disc: Women in linguistics
  2. , Re: 6.1557, Disc: Women in linguistics
  3. Elisabeth Burr, Women in Linguistics

Message 1: Re: 6.1557, Disc: Women in linguistics

Date: Mon, 06 Nov 1995 08:14:34 Re: 6.1557, Disc: Women in linguistics
From: Sam Wang <>
Subject: Re: 6.1557, Disc: Women in linguistics

I have not followed this thread carefully, so I am not sure if the
situation in Thailand has been mentioned. I attended the
International Symposium on Languages and Linguistics hosted by
Chulalongkorn University, Bankok, in 1992. There was only one male
among the conference staff. The chairman of the conference was the
Dean of the College of Arts, who was female, and the conference was
honored by the presence of the princess of the country.

H. Samuel Wang
Department of Foreign Languages
National Tsing Hua University
Hsin-Chu 300 Taiwan email:
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Message 2: Re: 6.1557, Disc: Women in linguistics

Date: Sun, 05 Nov 1995 18:55:23 Re: 6.1557, Disc: Women in linguistics
From: <>
Subject: Re: 6.1557, Disc: Women in linguistics

I don't think we can understand the high proportions of women students
in linguistics without also knowing figures for women students in
language and literary fields, generally. Also, much has been written
about the "chilly climate for women" in a number of fields: physical
sciences, social sciences, professional schools (until somewhat
recently, e.g. business, law, medicine). Thus, if women pick up on
this chilly-ness, as many do already in elementary and high school,
where are they going to seek a comfortable intellectual home?

Amy Sheldon
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Message 3: Women in Linguistics

Date: Mon, 06 Nov 1995 14:24:26 Women in Linguistics
From: Elisabeth Burr <>
Subject: Women in Linguistics

Why is everybody so surprised that there are so few women present on
the higher levels of academia? It seems that wherever universities are
considered scientific institutes, the higher levels in general are
dominated by men, not only in linguistics. As I have said a while ago,
most of our students in foreign languages and literatures - and that
is the same all over Germany - are women. When it comes to PHDs, women
are still present, but nearly all professors are men.

According to my own experience, but not exclusively some reasons for
this are:
1. women get much less support and recognition from their mainly male
supervisors and collegues

2. very little interest is shown for their scientific work

3. they are expected to be nice, cater for human relationships and
function well in administrative duties, they are not expected to be
scientific whereas men in the same position are always treated like
equals, i.e. academics and scientists

4. women who try to build a career for themselves in linguistics have
to fight on all fronts (I don't like this military way of speaking
very much, but it corresponds to the situation). This can be very
heavy. Men even today only look after themselves

5. for many women the decision for a career means a decision against
children, either because they cannot see how they could combine the
two, or - and this is probably the most important reason - they regard
their partners work as more important - he is probably quite capable
to make it look like that - or don't expect him to join in which in
most cases he wouldn't anyway, and so on and on. In the end they
dicide against an accademic career. It is a very tricky thing, as far
as I can see, because, at the same time, there is also a consciousness
problem: why do women expect to stay at home and "get something out of
their children", and expression heard very often in Germany, whereas
men are expected to prefer to go out and not get anything out of them?
The structures of patriarchal societies work quite well in creating
the impression that you are doing it because you want to.

I have three children and I know this can only work out if you don't
accept them.

6. higher levels being dominated by men, female students don't have
examples to follow. The conditions under which men become professors,
still nowadays, cannot be indicative for a woman who wants to go this

7. linguistically women are hardly ever referred to, if they protest
they are treated as neurotics, as being occupied with silly things

Although I can think of many, many more reasons and points to describe
this very complex situation - but then a lot has been written about
it, I'll stop here to see how the further discussion goes.

Elisabeth Burr
Dr. phil. Elisabeth Burr
Gerhard-Mercator Universitaet-GH
Lotharstrasse 65
47048 Duisburg
Tel.: +49 203 3792605
Fax.: +49 203 3792612
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