Inequity, Development, and Connected Knowing Notes

Belenky, M. F., & Stanton, A. V. (2000). Inequality, development, and connected knowing. In J. Mezirow (Ed.) & Associates, Learning as Transformation (pp. 3- 34). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Asymmetrical Relationships and Development

  • "Most adults simply have not developed their capacities for articulating and criticizing the underlying assumptions of their own thinking, nor do they analyze the thinking of others in these ways (p. 73)." They have not developed these skills because they lack the experiences and opportunities to learn and practice the skills. (My thoughts: The PDS is a context for such learning because of its signature pedagogy of inquiry.)
  • Dualistic Thinking and "Girl Stain"

    • Western culture categorizes entities into polarized opposites. One is unmarked and the other is marked. The marked category has a negative association, ex. male/female.
    • Things that are feminine are seen as negative. For example, boys cannot wear "girly" clothes. The author refers to this notion as "girl stain" in that anything that is feminine is stained.


Articulating Women's Knowledge

  • The Ethic of Care

    • Definition: "In this mode, questioning, listening, and responding to everyone's concerns is seen as the way to bring about lasting and satisfying solutions to moral predicaments. Resolutions are reached through conversation, storytelling, and perspective sharing (p. 79)."
    • Women use questioning, listening, and responding to solve moral dilemmas. Such discourse is called an ethic of care and is considered subordinate.
  • Women's Ways of Knowing

    • Since women's ways of knowing are considered inferior and consequently have been silenced, women do not have the skills to participate in the discourse communities for which Mezirow suggests. Instead, they need environments where care, trust, and listening are valued.
    • Connected Knowing: "They look for strengths, not weaknesses, in another's argument. If a weakness is perceived they struggle to understand why someone might think that way (p. 87)."
    • Connected Knowing: "We call them Connected Knowers because they actually try to enter into the other person's perspective, adopting their frame of mind, trying to see the world through their eyes. Striving to get the big picture, they try to see things holistically, not analytically (p. 87)."



  • "Women's Way of Knowing coined the term 'midwife-teacher' to describe educators who see their students as active constructors of knowledge and work hard to draw out their best thinking (p. 92)."



  • "In their minds, a proper leader 'draws out' and 'draws in' the missing voices. Like midwife-teachers, midwife-leaders valued, practiced, and taught the skills involved in connected Knowing (p. 97)."
  • "Although conventionally oriented leaders stand at the helm, gathering followers and leading the way, these leaders stand in the background and push others to the fore. Their effectiveness at drawing out the potential of people earns them the right to be called midwife-leaders (p. 97)."