She shared with us her conversations with Mary Belenky, one of the authors of Women's Ways of Knowing. Thinking of women's ways, she waxed autobiographical and told of attending a conference on higher education in Vienna with two male colleagues from two different universities. Drinking coffee after the opera one evening, talking with them, she happened to say that she had waited seven years after graduating from college before beginning graduate work. She was married to a physician then, and had to take care of his office while raising her little girl. Her colleagues were less than admiring; they expressed a kind of pity that she had "wasted" so much time before beginning her career. What a shame, they said, that she had remained home raising a child, helping a professional husband start his career. Reading Belenky and her colleagues, Greene realized how difficult it was, and may still be, for men to understand how women think, how they see their lives as connected with the lives of others.
Greene is impressed by Ellen Futter, until recently president of Barnard College, who has accepted a position as Director of the Museum of Natural History. Not a scientist, Futter raised a series of questions that fascinated Greene, who herself is interested in the need to develop scientific literacy among the young in our society. What is the meaning of scientific understanding in the public arena, in the community, in the family, in personal life? Futter asked relational questions that women are more likely than men to ask. If she were a professional scientist, she would be more likely to ask them, too.
Greene is interested in pluralism and multiculturalism and the ways in which they work upon human understanding. Again, how do we allow for differences while encouraging a coming together? The old "melting pot" idea does not work because it obliterated too many differences. How can you be an authentic person and still be a member, not simply an abstraction? Greene always wanted the freedom to choose herself, to create herself. She feels we insult people when we count them off in what looks as if it were "Column A" and "Column B" on a menu. She would like to release all kinds of persons to create their own projects and futures for themselves, to shape their own identities. The reasons for struggling for equality and fairness are to make possible the actualization of different possibilities for different people-so that all kinds of individuals can "become."
Public education was male-dominated for most of its history in this country. Typically, Horace Mann (in his Reports on the Common School) talked about the raw material of human nature being shaped into generals, great leaders-other models, obviously male. Although the work force was largely composed of female teachers, women were thought of as soft, dutiful, well-mannered, without the possibility of advancement. Carrying on a tradition that reached back into classic times, 19th century educators identified women with the private sphere-of love, compassion, family values, morality. Men were identified with the public sphere, where autonomy and detached attitudes were expected. There was respect out there for effective rationality, contracts, convention, self-control mingled with "bully-boy" thinking.
Recent developments in feminist thought have made more and more people recognize that cherished values do derive from the so-called private sphere and should not be barred from the public space. Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg is an example of how public and private can support one another. Her husband did many domestic duties while she went to law school, took her exams, served on the Law Review at Harvard. Later, of course, she moved to New York because of her husband's career demands. Greene believes we need increasingly to break down the barriers between the two spheres, even as she grants that this may mean profound structural and economic change. We need to create a community of relatedness that, once again, allows for difference.
Explorations of women's "different voice" have been advanced by Carol Gilligan, Evelyn Fox Keller, Nel Noddings, and many others in the past fifteen years. The ways of knowing associated with women are not confined to the humanities, but have significance in science and mathematics. We need only read Keller, Haraway, and Harding to be reminded of the importance of relatedness, dialogue, and the understanding of connections in rigorous research. Barbara McClintock, Nobel Prize winner, said she worked with nature, not on nature. Her work with maize led her to a discovery of "jumping genes." When asked about her work, she said, "Ask the genes." For a long time empirical science was thought of as being at odds with women's ways of knowing; Sandra Harding is talking about a feminist empiricism that will make up from the distortions, about "standpoint theory," about how women's ways of seeing were so long excluded. Greene, too, believes we must enlarge and complete the perspectives through which the world is studied and viewed. She believes, as well, in an experiential base for our studies, not a conceptual base alone.
Women must affirm their own standpoints. The norms that govern the scientific world, the texts in use, the way problems are defined - all these still leave out women's points of view, women's questions, women's perspectives. For a more adequate world view, the deficiency must be repaired. If different ways of knowing and seeing are attended to, if different modes of realizing possibility are acknowledged, we will come closer to the ideals of equality and justice. A larger vision will exist for us all.