Date of Award

12-16-2015

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Sociology

First Advisor

Dr. Wendy Simonds

Second Advisor

Dr. Adia Harvey Wingfield

Third Advisor

Dr. Anthony Hatch

Abstract

The question of the necessity of women’s colleges has been posed by a variety of online news sources. Headlines reading, “Are Women’s Colleges Outdated?” and “Why Women’s Colleges Are Still Relevant” are sprinkled throughout the webpages of news conglomerates like Forbes, The Huffington Post, and Jezebel. I argue that the belief in a post-sexist society and the prevalence of hegemonic masculinity renders the necessity of women’s educational institutions invisible. Through an anti-racist feminist lens with a focus on the hegemonic practices of our patriarchal society, I shed light on how women’s colleges are currently positioned in the United States. I conducted a discourse analysis on 40 articles about U.S. women’s colleges in the corporate press from 1970 to 2015. Data analysis reveals that women’s colleges are depicted in the media as struggling for survival in our society, regardless of studies that document their strengths. They have faced and continue to face image issues, financial issues, and the reinforcement of heteronormativity throughout their history. These issues play a major role in how the media depicts them.

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