Women and the Birth of Sociology Fall 11

1.  As with most accounts of history, it’s telling is at the mercy of the victor and the prevailing culture. Despite their contributions, fifteen prominent women were effectively erased, or “written out” of the history of the founding of sociology. The excerpt from “The Women Founders: Sociology and Theory, 1830 – 1930” by Patricia Madoo Lengermann and Jill Niebrugge-Brantley does not give any
specific date of this erasure only that at some point in time the names and contributions of these fifteen women were exsponged and credit given soley to the men assosiated with Sociology. Upon reflection, the reasoning behind such a crime of omission is not difficult to understand. Civilization has been a
patriarchal society since it’s inseption. Men, especially educated white men, were, and pretty much still are, the ruling class. Women were looked upon as “second-class” citizens who’s sole purpose in life was tend hearth and home, raise the children and be pleasing. The world of science was considered the domain of men. Men still constitute the greatest majority in most of the sciences. To recognize women as even partially responsible for the founding of any of the sciences would be tantamount to heresy.

2.  The founding women wrote about the issues of the day. Martineau wrote social analysis and translated the works of Comte. Ironic the translator of one of the “founding father’s” works should go unrecognized. Martineau wrote “How to Observe Morals and Manners” and published her
methodology. The focus of the women sociologists were as wide ranging as the issues of the periods they lived in. Trade unions, labor practices, the economy, slavery and immigration were just a few of
the issues they addressed. All these women were well known and well established in their field and were friends with many of their contemporaries such as Mead, Park and Thomas. Wells-Barnett was a
co-founder of the NAACP and together with Cooper, created an American version of Marx’s conflict theory to explain and illustrate their arguments concerning civil rights.

3.  The importance today of recognizing the contributions of Sociologies women founders lies in
the concept and ideology of Sociology itself, that society and institutions evolve and change relative to the actions of the people within that society. It is not only antithetical to the principals of
sociology, it is illogical to base ones viewpoints on matters of society without including the female perspective. It is not only hypocritical, but a slap in the face of the science of sociology to
ignore the contributions of any member of that collective. If the women of sociology had not been there, had not made the significant contributions they made, we would be much less progressive as a
nation in terms of civil rights, womens rights, labor practices and our social health as a whole. The NAACP might not have been established, although I admit this is purely conjecture given the
limited scope of the article and I think the world would be a much poorer place without the literature published by these outstanding women.

By D

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