The Academic Kitchen

A Social History of Gender Stratification at the University of California, Berkeley

By Maresi Nerad

Subjects: Gender Studies
Series: SUNY series, Frontiers in Education
Paperback : 9780791439708, 195 pages, January 1999
Hardcover : 9780791439692, 195 pages, January 1999

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Table of contents

List of Illustrations
List of Tables



From Social Reform Movement to Academic Study: Home Economics
The Berkeley Saga


1. Creating a Department of Home Economics at the University of California


The Invisible Berkeley Women Students
Benjamin Ide Wheeler of Berkeley: "A Womanly Education to Be More Serviceable Wives and Mothers"
"All We Ask Is a Chance": The Second-Class Status of Women Students and the Establishment of Home Economics at Berkeley
Jessica Peixotto, Lucy Sprague, Lucy Ward Stebbins: Living Down "Prejudices"
A "Women's Department": A Form of Segregation?


2. University Schooling for "the Housekeeper, Homemaker, and Mother"


The Frustrating Struggle for Faculty and Status as a School
Developing an Organizational Structure
"Women Cannot Take Responsibility as Well as Men ..."
A Department after All, but Power Rests with the President


3. Institution Builder: Agnes Fay Morgan


Keeping a "Deep" Secret
Household "Science" or Household "Art"?
Gender Inequality Enhanced by the War
Building an Institution: A Genius for Essentials


4. In Search of Status


Concentrating on What Affects Status: Quality of Faculty, Curriculum, Research, Outside Funding, Graduates' Careers, Committee Service, and Facilities
Securing Outside Research Funding
The Career Choices and Employment of the Department's Students and the Graduate Group in Nutrition
A Name Change and a Fight: What's in a Name? Power


5. From "The Peak of Eminence" to the End of a Separate Sphere: Berkeley Finds Home Economics an Embarrassment

Conclusion: Lessons

Appendix: A Chronological History of Home Economics at the University of California, Berkeley


Bibliographic Essay

Selected Bibliography


Presents a social history of gender stratification at the University of California at Berkeley through a combination of organizational theory and biography.


The Academic Kitchen tells the story of the evolution of an all-women's department, the Department of Home Economics, at the University of California, Berkeley from 1905 to 1954. The book's unique focus on the connection between gender and departmental status challenges organizational theorists and higher education specialists to reconsider their traditional analysis of academic departments. By incorporating gender in the analysis, Nerad reveals the process by which departments traditionally dominated by women, including education, library science, nursing, social welfare, and home economics, begin as separate (and unequal) programs and are subsequently eliminated (or sustained without economic rewards, prestige, and power) when administrators no longer regard them as useful.

Maresi Nerad is Director of Graduate Research at the University of California, Berkeley. She has published several works, including Graduate Education in the United States (with R. June and D. Miller).


"Maresi Nerad has taken one department in one university, but what a department and what a university. Required reading for anyone who wants to understand how the contemporary university got to be what it is." — Catharine R. Stimpson, New York University

"This book provides a new model for institutional history—it corrects or avoids all the predictable mistakes and misplaced emphases that have long plagued campus chronicles. For example, it elevates departments and subfields as crucial arenas where academic battles and issues were considered; it makes a reader consider famous presidents, trustees, and scholars in the ways they really worked." — John R. Thelin, University of Kentucky

"The Academic Kitchen can be read as a speculation about motives. What was the role of prejudice against women and women's interests by male faculty members and what was the role of the great drive for academic distinction among research universities of that time in history? The Academic Kitchen is both a well-prepared factual history and a 'Who done it and why?'" — Clark Kerr, University of California, Berkeley, President Emeritus

"This book is a pearl. Clearly written, meticulously researched, cogently argued, The Academic Kitchen shows what many organizational theorists miss—the tie between gender and that legal tender of the academic marketplace—prestige." — Arlie Russell Hochschild, author of The Time Bind