Professor earns two summer research fellowships

Dr. Gwen Kay of SUNY Oswego’s history department earned two summer fellowships to research a forthcoming book on the evolution and de-gendering of home economics programs on the college level.

Cornell University’s 2008 Human Ecology Dean’s Fellowship in the History of Home Economics and Human Nutrition offers a six-week residency “to use all things Cornell,” including materials and people to interview, said Kay.

A separate fellowship through the State Historical Society of Iowa will take Kay to the nation’s heartland in August to explore archives at the University of Iowa and Iowa State.

The research will inform her planned book, “Taking the Home out of Home Economics: From Home Economics to Human Ecology.”

“My larger project is to examine the de-gendering of home economics that occurs in the 1960s and 1970s,” Kay said. “I will look at external and internal forces that pressured schools of home economics to transform into something else.”

The confluence of Great Society legislation, changes in gender roles, the feminist movement and expanded educational opportunities were among the factors that led colleges to transform their home economics programs into more comprehensive programs with titles like human ecology, consumer science and family and consumer science, she said.

In the process, the programs became defeminized in both curriculum and enrollment, as men began studying in what were previously compartmentalized as women’s fields.

The fellowships also will entail a talk at Cornell next spring about her work there and an article submission to the Archives of Iowa on her research at the two universities in that state.

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CONTACT: Gwen Kay,

(Posted: Jul 23, 2008)