March
2nd 2011
And the wieners are. . .

Posted under: American history, Gender, unhappy endings, women's history

Sausage party!

Who says the humanities are feminized disciplines?  Not the real he-men at the National Endowment for the Humanities.  Check out this list of the winners of the 2010 National Humanities Medals (h/t reader, commenter, and BFF Shaz.)  Notice anything, friends?  Click here–I’ll wait. 

Let’s go over the list of everyone who’s won a National Humanities Medal since its inception:

  1. 2010:  9 men, 1 woman
  2. 2009:  7 men, 1 woman
  3. 2008:  8 men, 0 women, the John Templeton Foundation, and the Norman Rockwell Museum
  4. 2007:  6 men, 3 women, and Monuments Men for the Preservation of Art
  5. 2006:  7 men, 2 women, the Hoover Institution
  6. 2005:  8 men, 3 women, and the Papers of George Washington
  7. 2004:  4 men, 3 women, and the U.S. Capitol Historical Society
  8. 2003:  5 men, 5 women
  9. 2002:  4 men, 2 women, the Iowa Writer’s Workshop, and the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association
  10. 2001:  5 men, 2 women, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation
  11. 2000:  8 men, 4 women
  12. 1999:  6 men, 2 women
  13. 1998:  7 men, 2 women
  14. 1997:  8 men, 2 women

Don't blame us--we're Democrats!

Leaving aside the nine institutions that were honored, overall that’s a total of 94 men and 31 women (or just under 33% 25%.)  And I can’t help notice that among the nine organizations, four are explicitly named after men, one is in fact called “Monuments Men,” and the only way women come into the picture is through a “Ladies’ Association” dedicated to the preservation of the home of our first male president.  (Kudos to Geo. W., who is the subject of not one but two of the institutions honored!)

Aside from the bias evident here, the most obvious feature of this list is that the George W. Bush years were relatively good for women awardees, and the Bill Clinton years less so.  The last two years, in which Barack Obama’s appointees have made the selections:  the wurst!  (Sorry–I couldn’t resist.)  If you take a look at the list of winners from the Bush years, you’ll also see that the Bushies were terrific about “dancing with the ones that brung ya,” as we like to say around these parts.  They actually rewarded conservative women for their efforts.  The Democrats–not so much! 

22 Comments »

22 Responses to “And the wieners are. . .”

  1. squadratomagico on 02 Mar 2011 at 1:59 pm #

    Actually, Historiann, it’s closer to 25%. 94 + 31 = 125 awards total. The 31 women recipients constitute about 25% of that whole.

    Um… yay?

  2. Historiann on 02 Mar 2011 at 2:11 pm #

    Duh. Sorry about that! I used the wrong diviser. Or divider. Or whatever.

    I’ve made the correction above. It’s worse than I thought!

  3. Bardiac on 02 Mar 2011 at 2:21 pm #

    It often feels like women and women’s issues are put way on the back burner (to use a metaphor that’s perhaps problematic) by the male liberals because they know a lot of women will support them even if they don’t actually make changes that benefit us. And then they give prizes and such to men, preferentially, so they aren’t accused of being soft of feminized.

    It’s time to go feminist on their asses.

  4. Matt_L on 02 Mar 2011 at 2:49 pm #

    yes, well more generally, the Republicans seem to understand first and second rules of politics:
    1) punish your enemies
    2) reward your friends

    Instead with the Dems its:
    1) compromise with your enemies
    2) ignore your friends (until the New Hampshire Primary)

  5. Tony Grafton on 02 Mar 2011 at 3:36 pm #

    This is pathetic.

  6. Tony Grafton on 02 Mar 2011 at 3:36 pm #

    These choices, I mean, and the absence of women.

  7. Tenured Radical on 02 Mar 2011 at 5:42 pm #

    I thought Bernard Bailyn and Gordon Wood were the same person: they should have to share a medal.

  8. Indyanna on 02 Mar 2011 at 5:50 pm #

    And Paula Wasley is the person who they send out in front of the electronic curtain to deal with whatever flack may come down. In this context, you have to wonder what Charles Frankel did to get his name taken off the prize? Who’s Charles “Frank”-el, anyway?

  9. Indyanna on 02 Mar 2011 at 6:01 pm #

    Under the reign of the “Charles Frankel” brand, between 1989 and 1996, here are the figures for this NEH prize:

    1996: 3 men, 2 women
    1995: 4 men, 1 woman
    1994: 2 men, 3 women
    1993: 3 men, 2 women
    1992: 4 men, 1 woman
    1991: 4 men, 1 woman
    1990: 4 men, 1 woman
    1989: 4 men, 1 woman
    _____________________
    28 men, 12 women

    Again, edging up to the same 75%/25% division. Equilibrium, anyway

  10. thatsnothistory on 02 Mar 2011 at 6:03 pm #

    “Instead with the Dems its …ignore your friends (until the New Hampshire Primary)”

    Not even then. Obama was pretty clear in the last election that women voters were low hanging fruit he didn’t need to work to collect. Sadly, he’s right. The Republican agenda is so starkly anti-women that the Dems don’t have to work for the votes of (thinking, non-self-hating) women. So they don’t.

  11. Susan on 02 Mar 2011 at 6:25 pm #

    So it’s incredibly depressing. Not surprising, but depressing. But it’s also kind of an odd list, with scholars and practitioners mixed together. So we should generate our female list of suggestions that H’ann’s readers could submit to the NEH (always helpfully).

    I’ll start with Natalie Davis

  12. Indyanna on 02 Mar 2011 at 6:26 pm #

    Linda Kerber

  13. Janice on 02 Mar 2011 at 6:45 pm #

    I second/third/seventh Natalie Davis who is an amazing, world-renowned scholar. But to add to that, there are hundreds more of absolutely outstanding women scholars who I’m sure are just not seen when these lists are drawn up. The invisible status of women of a certain age probably helps in that, doesn’t it?

    Just off the top of my head and focusing on hitorians, why not Linda Colley, Ruth Mazo Karras, Merry Wiesner-Hanks, Susan Karant-Nunn, Claire Potter, Linda Levy Peck, Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, Erika Rappaport. . . ?

    There are so many amazing women out there whose names don’t ever come up for awards and recognition, not because they lack anything in terms of quality, but because women’s names don’t come up!

  14. HistoryMaven on 02 Mar 2011 at 7:13 pm #

    Oy. I’m reading this after (1) being really upset about my home state of Ohio (&^%$ Kasich and SB5), and (2) a day of updating and revising encyclopedia entries on a bunch of male historians. I may have to defend my decision to check out the archives to see what their wives left behind, but I went ahead and did it. No surprise–scholars in their own right, working in preservation, Progressive reforms, etc.–one even wrote a script on American history for a film in 1924!

    So I guess I’m wondering what it means to keep awarding the individual when it’s a lot more complicated. When one of the winners on this list retired, his long-time research assistant (ABD) lost her job.

    What would happen if universities could win humanities medals?

    But I’ll surrender and offer my list: if she were still alive, Caroline Ware; Linda Kerber; Laurel Thatcher Ulrich; Natalie Zemon Davis; Gerda Lerner. …

  15. Historiann on 02 Mar 2011 at 7:36 pm #

    Drew Faust! Jill Lepore! Jacqueline Jones! Debra Gray White! Joan Scott! Linda Gordon! Judith Bennett! Vicki Ruiz! Estelle Freedman!

    Jeezus frack. It’s not even hard to extend the lists the rest of you have started.

    A number of you have already listed folks I would have listed, too. You commenters are awesome. I love all of your suggestions.

    (I have to giggle at Tony Grafton’s second comment. I think we’d know which he found “pathetic,” my comments or the list of NEH honorees! But I appreciate attention to detail, as always.)

    This announcement of the 2010 honorees comes at an interesting moment, when Susan (above) and I have just come away from this conference in Texas in which bossy, opinionated women historians completely dominated the discussions. It’s so interesting when the world outside actually starts to resemble the world I inhabit in my head . . . and such a rude remembrance when we are instructed about the way the world still works.

    As we at the Centering Families in the Atlantic World conference became fond of saying this week, “patriarchal equilibrium, everyone?”

  16. Tony Grafton on 02 Mar 2011 at 8:08 pm #

    In addition to those already mentioned, who included a number of the people I admire most in the world, there’s Wendy Doniger, Hanna Holborn Gray (my undergraduate mentor, before she rose to glory), Lynn Hunt, Barbara Metcalf, Pauline Maier, Svetlana Alpers–and the beat could go for days.

    Oy.

  17. shaz on 02 Mar 2011 at 9:08 pm #

    Thanks for the h/t, Historiann BFF. Anyone up for tallying how many of those winners do feminist history and/or women’s history?

    What a lovely start to Women’s History month.

  18. Historiann on 02 Mar 2011 at 9:37 pm #

    I think there’s one: Annette Gordon-Reed, who was the lone female honoree last year. There are a lot of other historians on the list, especially in the Bush years, but they’re all conservative historians like Gertrude Himmelfarb, Mary Lefkowitz Horowitz, and Elizabeth Fox Genovese.

    Upon reflection, I would put EFG in with AGR, although I think their politics were probably quite divergent. Still: both do/did women’s history! (Although, guess which one wrote a book called–seriously–Feminism is Not the Story of My Life?)

    And, how could I have neglected to mention Lynn Hunt and Carroll Smith-Rosenberg, two important mentors of mine at Penn?

  19. Nikki on 03 Mar 2011 at 5:59 am #

    Barbara Weinstein. Mary Kay Vaughan. Asuncion Lavrin.

  20. Bardiac on 03 Mar 2011 at 6:12 am #

    Carolyn Walker Bynum.

  21. Perpetua on 03 Mar 2011 at 6:47 am #

    Joan Cadden. Amen, Bardiac- Caroline Walker Bynum. Natalie Davis. Mary Ryan. Judith Walkowitz. Olivia Remie Constable.

    (sorry if this double-posts – my computer is malfunctioning this morning)

  22. Gender Matters: My Lesson for Women’s History Month : Kelly J Baker on 11 Mar 2011 at 12:54 pm #

    [...] I think President Obama had it covered. (Historiann, the better blogger, already commented on the sausage fest that is the National Endowment Humanities Medal winners.) Timely, I am [...]