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Women's Ways Of Knowing: The Development Of Self, Voice, And Mind 10th Anniversary Edition Paperback – January 9, 1997


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books; 10 Anv edition (January 9, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465090990
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465090990
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.3 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #127,112 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

From interviews with 135 women (mostly privileged college students) regarding their search for truth and knowledge, the authors (all female faculty members of colleges or universities) determine five learning "perspectives" that characterize "women's way of knowing." The somewhat philosophical text, which skillfully blends narration, documentation, and excerpts from interviews, sees higher education's teaching methods as more responsive to male "impersonalness" than female "connectedness" and recommends ways to improve the situation. On the whole, a work ironically geared more to the dialectician or feminist scholar than to the "integrated constructivist" or "passionate knower." For large public and academic libraries. Janice Arenofsky, formerly with Arizona State Lib., Phoenix
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

Women's Ways of Knowing offers new and useful understandings of the epistemology (methods and basis) of the development of women's knowledge. While this already classic scholarly work is neither easily nor quickly read, there are many excellent reasons to read, use, and appreciate it. Earlier research in this field concentrated on predominately undergraduate middle- and upper-class Caucasian males. Based on interviews with 135 women of various ages from a variety of cultural and economic backgrounds, Women's Ways of Knowing creates five "not necessarily fixed, exhaustive, or universal categories" of how women know what we know. The results of this study are insightful and applicable to everyday life. The authors, instead of speaking from the distant land of "objectivity" and the omnipotent "one," say "we" and talk about their process: how and why they did this study, the details of their planning, what surprised them, how the results affected their thinking, plans, and progress. A good example of what's possible when love informs science, Women's Ways of Knowing illuminates - with warm and welcome light - scholarly theories about how people learn and know. -- For great reviews of books for girls, check out Let's Hear It for the Girls: 375 Great Books for Readers 2-14. -- From 500 Great Books by Women; review by Jesse Larsen

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Customer Reviews

I originally read this book as a required text in a Nursing BSN program.
kis2nm
I recommend this to anyone, but especially those interested in social justice, gender, multiculturalism, epistemology, and the dynamics of power.
Jeff King
I recommend this book for any woman who is trying to discover who she is, what she's about, and how she got there.
Andrea M.. Ahlsen

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

45 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Monika on December 20, 2003
Format: Paperback
Building on the work of previous psychologists interested in the study of the female mind, Mary Belenky and her colleagues have conducted interviews with a sample of 135 women enrolled in various teaching institutions (whether it be a university, community college, or some other institution such as a clinic to aid parents). The authors looked for patterns in the responses they received, and were able to draw together a concept of how women deal with knowledge.

The small size of the sample of women interviewed may be looked upon by some as a weak point of the study, but there are some strong motives behind this conscious choice the authors made. Belenky and her colleagues wished to get to know each woman personally, and to conduct a full, comprehensive interview with each one so that they could provide examples to accompany their theories, rather than simply quizzing an overwhelmingly large study group and giving their supporting evidence only in the form of numbers and statistics.

The authors have identified five different "ways of knowing" that women utilize. The first one addressed is given the name of silence. By "silence" the authors do not mean an absence of speech, but rather a state of being intellectually voiceless. They do not see themselves as beings capable of receiving or retaining knowledge, and are therefore subject to the control of those around them.

The second way of knowing discussed is termed "received knowledge." Received knowers believe themselves able to learn from others, and even to pass on what they have learned, but they do not see themselves as capable of independent, original thought. The authors identify both silent women and received knowers as dualists.
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32 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Andrea M.. Ahlsen on December 22, 1998
Format: Paperback
"Women's Ways of Knowing" is an outstanding book based on experiential studies and interviews of 130+ women in varying fields, roles, and capacities. It explores the different "voices" or lack thereof that women hide and/or exhibit. This book not only looks at how women "learn" in formal and informal settings yet it looks at the challenges that women face in a masculine-structured society and educational settings. I found this book to elicit varying emotions from anger to happiness to loneliness. I recommend this book for any woman who is trying to discover who she is, what she's about, and how she got there. I also recommend this book for men to, at the very least, contemplate from a factual standpoint the challenges and ambiguous positions that women face today and tomorrow.
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28 of 32 people found the following review helpful By FrKurt Messick HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 28, 2003
Format: Paperback
Starting from the awareness that much of the way education (both formal and informal) is carried out in society is very male-dominated and the voice and experience of women is largely absent, Belenky and her co-authors make a case for examining ways of knowing and learning that is unique to women. The authors recognise early differences in studies that have included women as a primary or central focus, such as those of Carol Gilligan. One strong tendency of women's ways of knowing in these early studies is the presence of responsibility and connectedness that significantly exceeds those of men. After exploring different aspects of knowledge and how women come to acquire, use, produce, and disseminate this knowledge, the authors work to put these insights in context for the family and academia. The authors work largely in the area of developing for women a means of gaining a greater sense of self (also see Howard Gardner's section on personal intelligence in his book, Frames of Mind). This sense of self enables women to construct meaning for themselves, and find their own voices for both teaching and learning.
Perhaps one criticism I would hold is that, while this work looks at women's experience, it still seems to remain very Euro-centric. I am reminded of the arguments of black women against feminist theological processes, which led to the development of womanist theological discourse.
Recently I received an email from a friend with a link to an on-line quiz, which was attempting in a Turing-machine sort of way to be able to determine one's gender from the answers given to a set of questions.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 10, 1998
Format: Paperback
The authors conducted 135 interviews to investigate the way women acquire and convey their knowledge of the world. They identify five epistemological categories, or "ways of knowing," intimately connected to women's experiences of authority. Generally, but not exclusively, they found, as did other researchers they cite, that women approach life from a position of relationship and connection to those around them, while men tend to operate from a position of separation and autonomy. This is a very important addition to the body of work on gender differences which demonstrate that women are finding their way in a world tailored to the masculine way of being.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By R Piper on March 2, 2006
Format: Paperback
this is by far the best book on epistemology -- how people decide what knowledge is, and how they go about getting it -- that i have ever encountered. when i was in graduate school, i started studying epistemology by accident. i'd planned to research how people learned physics, but i ended up baffled by many of my students. how *did* those people think?? this book clarified that for me, by extensively documenting a variety of ways in which people thought about knowledge, and presenting their classifications with excellent documentation and a wholesome level of respect.

don't be too torn up about the "women's" in the title -- that simply reflects the fact that the researchers chose to use women as the subjects of their study. the older (and in my opinion mostly poorer) literature on the subject used mainly men, and for that matter often only say harvard undergraduates, without comment on any biases thus introduced. but despite their selection of women only, belenky et. al. use a widely socially varied group of subjects, and thus their findings are quite broadly applicable. and at least they are careful to let the reader know who their subjects were -- an epistemological feature not to be lightly dismissed.
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