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Women's Ways of Knowing: The Development of Self, Voice, and Mind

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Despite the progress of the women's movement, many women still feel silenced in their families and schools. This moving and insightful bestseller, based on in-depth interviews with 135 women, explains why they feel this way. Updated with a new preface exploring how the authors' collaboration and research developed, this tenth anniversary edition addresses many of the quest Despite the progress of the women's movement, many women still feel silenced in their families and schools. This moving and insightful bestseller, based on in-depth interviews with 135 women, explains why they feel this way. Updated with a new preface exploring how the authors' collaboration and research developed, this tenth anniversary edition addresses many of the questions that the authors have been asked repeatedly in the years since Women's Ways of Knowing was originally published.


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Despite the progress of the women's movement, many women still feel silenced in their families and schools. This moving and insightful bestseller, based on in-depth interviews with 135 women, explains why they feel this way. Updated with a new preface exploring how the authors' collaboration and research developed, this tenth anniversary edition addresses many of the quest Despite the progress of the women's movement, many women still feel silenced in their families and schools. This moving and insightful bestseller, based on in-depth interviews with 135 women, explains why they feel this way. Updated with a new preface exploring how the authors' collaboration and research developed, this tenth anniversary edition addresses many of the questions that the authors have been asked repeatedly in the years since Women's Ways of Knowing was originally published.

30 review for Women's Ways of Knowing: The Development of Self, Voice, and Mind

  1. 5 out of 5

    Nonsequiteuse

    When I started this review, I originally wrote: I think every woman should . . . But, since I've read this book, I start this review: Every woman should read this book. It goes much deeper than this, but at a basic level, once you've read this, you will think twice before you end a sentence that is a statement of fact with a question mark, and before you qualify anything you say with I think, or maybe, or this is just my opinion . . . Language is our primary tool for interacting with the world. Wo When I started this review, I originally wrote: I think every woman should . . . But, since I've read this book, I start this review: Every woman should read this book. It goes much deeper than this, but at a basic level, once you've read this, you will think twice before you end a sentence that is a statement of fact with a question mark, and before you qualify anything you say with I think, or maybe, or this is just my opinion . . . Language is our primary tool for interacting with the world. Women and men each use this tool, but often, do so in ways deeply affected by gender norms that may, in many instances, keep us from communciating as equals. Language should be a tool of expression, not oppression. The book is not nearly as political (at least, overtly) as this review!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Amelia Strydom

    Been wanting to read this oldie but goodie for years. Finally bought it on Kindle and spent all weekend devouring it. What a wonderful, insightful book. Makes me understand myself and my own history of learning SO much better. Wish I hadn't waited so long, this book really deepens my understanding of 'teaching' and creating a supportive learning environment, especially for women. Been wanting to read this oldie but goodie for years. Finally bought it on Kindle and spent all weekend devouring it. What a wonderful, insightful book. Makes me understand myself and my own history of learning SO much better. Wish I hadn't waited so long, this book really deepens my understanding of 'teaching' and creating a supportive learning environment, especially for women.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Lorie

    This book, by validating and providing a nomenclature for everything I unconsciously already knew about myself, CHANGED MY LIFE.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    This book opened my eyes to different learning and behavioral tendencies in women or perhaps between women and between men/women. It is a must read for increasing awareness or improving one's own learning approach. Its an easy read with a simple structure addressing challenging concepts such as linguistics, language, self-esteem, societal roles, discreet and ever present moral pressures. This book opened my eyes to different learning and behavioral tendencies in women or perhaps between women and between men/women. It is a must read for increasing awareness or improving one's own learning approach. Its an easy read with a simple structure addressing challenging concepts such as linguistics, language, self-esteem, societal roles, discreet and ever present moral pressures.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Meen

    The very first Gender Studies class I took was Gender in Comp & Rhetoric course, and this was one of the texts we used. As with everything we read that semester, I loved it just because it had me questioning every little thing we take forgranted about our lives and selves. However, even then the book felt very elitist. I'll never forget how offended I felt (though I couldn't articulate it at the time) at the image of these upper-middle-class, fabulously well-educated women sitting on the floor o The very first Gender Studies class I took was Gender in Comp & Rhetoric course, and this was one of the texts we used. As with everything we read that semester, I loved it just because it had me questioning every little thing we take forgranted about our lives and selves. However, even then the book felt very elitist. I'll never forget how offended I felt (though I couldn't articulate it at the time) at the image of these upper-middle-class, fabulously well-educated women sitting on the floor of a freaking beach house with all their little notes of papers, speculating about what the words of their research subjects meant... This was before I switched majors to sociology, so I understand more now about how qualitative social science is done, but it still smacks of elitism to me. I guess I'll never be totally comfortable being a bourgie intellectual. :(

  6. 4 out of 5

    Alex

    This is an excellent epistemological investigation that focuses on the experiences of women in order to decolonize the male-dominated field of epistemological theories. The authors take us through five major stages of development, including silence, received knowledge, subjective knowledge, procedural knowledge, and constructed knowledge. After journeying through these developmental stages, we see the implications for family life and education. I connected with the idea of the teacher as a midwif This is an excellent epistemological investigation that focuses on the experiences of women in order to decolonize the male-dominated field of epistemological theories. The authors take us through five major stages of development, including silence, received knowledge, subjective knowledge, procedural knowledge, and constructed knowledge. After journeying through these developmental stages, we see the implications for family life and education. I connected with the idea of the teacher as a midwife, which the authors identify as being the opposite of what Friere identifies as the banker-teacher, who merely deposits information into human receptacles. With the midwife-teacher, she assists the students in birthing her own ideas, and becoming aware of the knowledge she already possesses. A great book for educators and learners alike.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    This book was one of several optional books listed for one of my graduate classes (social and emotional development). I chose to read a different book for the class, but bought this one too because it sounded interesting. I found time to read it this summer. It describes the authors' phenomenological study conducted in the late 70s that examines the ways in which women conceive the self, their voice and their thinking/learning. It compares this to male ways of knowing. The authors contend that w This book was one of several optional books listed for one of my graduate classes (social and emotional development). I chose to read a different book for the class, but bought this one too because it sounded interesting. I found time to read it this summer. It describes the authors' phenomenological study conducted in the late 70s that examines the ways in which women conceive the self, their voice and their thinking/learning. It compares this to male ways of knowing. The authors contend that women fall into 5 different groups of ways of knowing that are semi-developmental: silent knowing, received knowing, subjective knowing, procedural knowing and constructed knowing. I could see my younger self reflected in some ways in various types of knowing.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Monica

    I just re-read this after about ten plus years. It is always interesting to revisit a text that changes you. The first part was still very powerful for me- especially as my perspective has changed from grad student to professor. I still feel that the categorization is too linear - I think they should be perceived as contextual. The second half was difficult to read- it felt to black and white and from a dominant culture perspective. I still think, even with my criticisms, that this book is vital I just re-read this after about ten plus years. It is always interesting to revisit a text that changes you. The first part was still very powerful for me- especially as my perspective has changed from grad student to professor. I still feel that the categorization is too linear - I think they should be perceived as contextual. The second half was difficult to read- it felt to black and white and from a dominant culture perspective. I still think, even with my criticisms, that this book is vital for all women to read- it changed my understanding of my self and I think it could do the same for many women.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Lily

    "Drawn from the voices of women of varied backgrounds, Women's Ways of Knowing reveals the unique perspectives from which women view reality and draw conclusions about truth, knowledge, and authority. An intellectual and political Our Bodies, Ourselves, this book has had significant impact on debates about learning and gender, and will continue to have resonance throughout the fields of education and psychology for years to come." From the Goodreads description. A book I have given to young women "Drawn from the voices of women of varied backgrounds, Women's Ways of Knowing reveals the unique perspectives from which women view reality and draw conclusions about truth, knowledge, and authority. An intellectual and political Our Bodies, Ourselves, this book has had significant impact on debates about learning and gender, and will continue to have resonance throughout the fields of education and psychology for years to come." From the Goodreads description. A book I have given to young women and that I myself have returned to reread numerous times over the years. Found a signed copy in a bookstore in Vermont the summer of 2010.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Cassandra Cantrell

    This book is a beautiful book for women in that it confirms that females learning processes are different than males. The authors even describe what the learning "looks like" as well as the procedural stages and what happens if the learning development is arrested for any reason. I only gave the the book 4 & 1/2 stars instead of 5 because it is academically written. The academic reach of the book puts the information out of reach for the "silent" women and for "received" learners--to use the aut This book is a beautiful book for women in that it confirms that females learning processes are different than males. The authors even describe what the learning "looks like" as well as the procedural stages and what happens if the learning development is arrested for any reason. I only gave the the book 4 & 1/2 stars instead of 5 because it is academically written. The academic reach of the book puts the information out of reach for the "silent" women and for "received" learners--to use the authors own labels.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Marisa

    I read this book last year for a class but what really impressed me about this book is that the authors clearly and distinctly discus that there is a difference in how men learn and how women learn. In teaching or training disciplines it should be a must read as this really was a great way to identify or self-discover why I learn the way I do and how family, society and norms influence gender based learning. Great read.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Wendy

    An interesting read based on studies done on women and how their upbringing, education etc influences the style of "knowing" they adopt and come to value also how it can be changed over the years with support, awareness and acceptance as individuals. While it was written many years ago still somethings dont change even with time regarding womens issues. An interesting read based on studies done on women and how their upbringing, education etc influences the style of "knowing" they adopt and come to value also how it can be changed over the years with support, awareness and acceptance as individuals. While it was written many years ago still somethings dont change even with time regarding womens issues.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Grace

    a good book for both men and women to read. important lessons for trusting yourself as a woman to make decisions from the gut. a prerequisite for a class i took, probably wouldn't have picked it up otherwise but i'm glad i did. a good book for both men and women to read. important lessons for trusting yourself as a woman to make decisions from the gut. a prerequisite for a class i took, probably wouldn't have picked it up otherwise but i'm glad i did.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Eric

    The explanations on how woman come to know what they know, which are found in this book, do not simply seem to apply to just woman. The concepts presented here are rather universal.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Nojood Alsudairi

    Woman, you need to read this book!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Ebony

    I read about myself all throughout this book. it was excellent. Good call, Lisa. It's a great treatise on how women come to think about being thinkers. I read about myself all throughout this book. it was excellent. Good call, Lisa. It's a great treatise on how women come to think about being thinkers.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    Research & theories on the development of knowledge in women, presenting important alternatives to theories created by studying only males.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jo Dagustun

    Great book - a real classic on learning/personal development that deserves to be read by all educators/ self-educators.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Larry Gallagher

    A cornerstone of my dissertation work and lifelong interest - helping people wean from authority, pass through relativism, and learn to embrace both evidence and uncertainty.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Anne

    This book was useful in finding a way to define the epistemology of women's traditional education. This book was useful in finding a way to define the epistemology of women's traditional education.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Marilyn

    This book was profound to me in 1987 as I finished graduate school and entered a career. It seemed dated when I reread it in 2012, but I have grown and ideas have evolved.

  22. 5 out of 5

    J.

    This was assigned reading back in circa 92 for a graduate Political Psychology Course. Was an interesting and fun read.

  23. 5 out of 5

    David Briant

    Serious psychology. Biblical in stature. Essential for any man who wants to understand and connect with women.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Michael Moore

    This book changed my views on a few topics. If a book changes changes my view on only one, that's a win, so this one's a hat trick! I came from a physical sciences background, and this book changed my idea of what constitutes evidence of a claim, and how research can be conducted. It uses interviews of ~130 women and analyzes them. There was tremendous care taken in the interviewing processes to avoid many biases that can creep into this type of study. While not the central idea, the strong correl This book changed my views on a few topics. If a book changes changes my view on only one, that's a win, so this one's a hat trick! I came from a physical sciences background, and this book changed my idea of what constitutes evidence of a claim, and how research can be conducted. It uses interviews of ~130 women and analyzes them. There was tremendous care taken in the interviewing processes to avoid many biases that can creep into this type of study. While not the central idea, the strong correlation of stages of knowing with economic status was disappointing. It's something I might have expected going in, but the effect was stronger and more consistent than I would have anticipated. Of course, the book was also formative in how I viewed stages of knowing for women. The fundamental stages were important, but also learning how different people in the women's lives helped them toward further stages. I should also mention that this book was difficult for me to read. There was much I was unfamiliar with in the science and findings. The author made a point to very rarely relate her findings to corresponding findings for men, which meant I had very little prior knowledge to leverage when trying to understand the ideas. This book wasn't written for people like me, but that didn't stop me from enjoying and learning from it greatly. I'll intend to re-read it with a stronger foundation in the future. Did it change me? Yes: it's made me more receptive to different research methods, more culturally literate to women in different stages of knowing, and a better aid to them to progress through those stages.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Kimberly

    An excellent book that spans the time when women were oppressed through societal norms. They had no voice, yet found their identity through the experiences of other women whom they identified with, gleaned courage from, and began a journey of self-discovery. Women speak an emotional language of the heart. When placed into a circle, they become a united front of powerful energy that can explode synergistically to make change happen.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Carolyn

    I was given this by a friend who knew I liked Women's studies. I am very grateful for this gift. Yes, it's a text book, but not preachy. Some things have changed since this book was marketed years ago. But as some groups try to push women back, this book will have any woman with a brain and the men who appreciates her shoving those hate groups back. I was given this by a friend who knew I liked Women's studies. I am very grateful for this gift. Yes, it's a text book, but not preachy. Some things have changed since this book was marketed years ago. But as some groups try to push women back, this book will have any woman with a brain and the men who appreciates her shoving those hate groups back.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Kelly

    This is a primary work on women in education. It was interesting to see the model that Belenky et al. put together although I'm not sure I fully support the idea. I did find some very interesting bits mixed in. The idea that so many of their subjects had been victimized seemed more an indicator of the time of writing than a real sample in the population. Still, very interesting. This is a primary work on women in education. It was interesting to see the model that Belenky et al. put together although I'm not sure I fully support the idea. I did find some very interesting bits mixed in. The idea that so many of their subjects had been victimized seemed more an indicator of the time of writing than a real sample in the population. Still, very interesting.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Shields Ebersole

    Fascinating study of lots of different ways we "receive" or "construct" knowledge. Focuses on the ways gender roles have generally channeled women's patterns of thinking, but is certainly applicable to all humans. Based on a wider variety of interview subjects than your typical study, and full of helpful, illuminating, intriguing quotes and everyday examples from those subjects' lives. Fascinating study of lots of different ways we "receive" or "construct" knowledge. Focuses on the ways gender roles have generally channeled women's patterns of thinking, but is certainly applicable to all humans. Based on a wider variety of interview subjects than your typical study, and full of helpful, illuminating, intriguing quotes and everyday examples from those subjects' lives.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Gloria

    This is the theoretical basis for Merry Ring's work in the Women's Center. I had read sections of if but finally read it in its entirety and used it in my own graduate work in 2007. It is amazing work and provides wonderful insight into exactly what the title says, the development of women's selves, voices and minds. This is the theoretical basis for Merry Ring's work in the Women's Center. I had read sections of if but finally read it in its entirety and used it in my own graduate work in 2007. It is amazing work and provides wonderful insight into exactly what the title says, the development of women's selves, voices and minds.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Sanchita

    An insightful book about how women learn the things they know and the kinds of psychological positions it puts them in along with strategies to change knowing practices. The methodology of research was evocatively explained and the book really made the stories of these women come alive.

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