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Women in Academe

Women in Academe: Progress and Prospects

edited by Mariam K. Chamberlain
Copyright Date: 1988
Published by: Russell Sage Foundation
Pages: 448
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  • Book Info
    Women in Academe
    Book Description:

    The role of women in higher education, as in many other settings, has undergone dramatic changes during the past two decades. This significant period of progress and transition is definitively assessed in the landmark volume,Women in Academe.

    Crowded out by returning veterans and pressed by social expectations to marry early and raise children, women in the 1940s and 1950s lost many of the educational gains they had made in previous decades. In the 1960s women began to catch up, and by the 1970s women were taking rapid strides in academic life. As documented in this comprehensive study, the combined impact of the women's movement and increased legislative attention to issues of equality enabled women to make significant advances as students and, to a lesser extent, in teaching and academic administration.Women in Academetraces the phenomenal growth of women's studies programs, the notable gains of women in non-traditional fields, the emergence of campus women's centers and research institutes, and the increasing presence of minority and re-entry women. Also examined are the uncertain future of women's colleges and the disappointingly slow movement of women into faculty and administrative positions.

    This authoritative volume provides more current and extensive data on its subject than any other study now available. Clearly and objectively, it tells an impressive story of progress achieved-and of important work still to be done.

    eISBN: 978-1-61044-114-8
    Subjects: Sociology, Education

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Preface
    (pp. v-viii)
    Mariam K. Chamberlain
  3. Notes on the Task Force on Women in Higher Education
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Table of Contents
    (pp. xiii-xvi)

    • 1 Historical Background and Overview
      (pp. 3-12)

      Women first gained entry to institutions of higher education in the United States when Oberlin College admitted female students in 1837—more than 200 years after Harvard College was founded for the education of young men. In colonial America there was no precedent for higher education for women. European universities, some of which were established as early as the eleventh and twelfth centuries, were open only to men. From the perspective of the 1980s it is easy to forget that the history of women in higher education is so much shorter than that of men.

      It is now 150 years...


    • 2 The College Experience
      (pp. 15-34)

      When the decade of the 1970s began, there were no laws prohibiting sex discrimination in higher education. A little-noticed Executive Order (11246) prohibited employment discrimination by federal contractors, but no one had realized that it covered sex discrimination by universities and colleges. That situation was suddenly and dramatically changed in January 1970 when Bernice R. Sandler of the Women’s Equity Action League (WEAL) filed the first charges of sex discrimination in academe, initiating WEAL’s campaign to spur the federal government to enforce the Executive Order against colleges and universities. Several hundred charges were subsequently filed against academic institutions by WEAL...

    • 3 Minority Women
      (pp. 35-60)

      It is difficult to write about minority women in higher education for two reasons. First, the group includes a diverse set of people with different cultural, language, and experiential background. While that may be true for any group whose major bond (at least on the surface) is gender, it is especially true of this particular group. Black women, for the most part, have grown up in families whose ancestors have been here for several generations but have until recently been in segregated communities and segregated institutions. Likewise, American Indian women are from families that have been in this country but...

    • 4 Re-entry Women
      (pp. 61-82)

      The story of continuing education for women in the 1970s is essentially the story of women’s changing life experiences during that period. Demographic and political indicators of social change—rising age at first marriage, rising divorce rates, falling birth rates, increased participation in the labor force, increased attention to women’s rights—were accompanied by internal changes in the way women viewed themselves and their place in society. This chapter deals with the effect of these changes on the educational needs and aspirations of women as reflected in their decisions about further education and with the response of the educational system...

    • 5 Women’s Centers
      (pp. 83-106)

      The establishment of women’s centers on college and university campuses in the early 1970s was a direct response to the growth of the women’s movement and an acknowledgment of the need for a new kind of support for women. They provide a meeting place and range of services for women both within and outside the academy. Some of these centers are student initiated, student run, and funded primarily by student associations or, on occasion, student support services. Others are administratively affiliated, with institutional funding, and are directed by a salaried faculty person or administrator with activist interests. It is this...

    • 6 Women’s Colleges
      (pp. 107-132)

      A study of the women’s colleges in the last two decades reveals that they are declining in numbers and in overall enrollment. At the same time, however, individual women’s colleges are characterized by a great vitality. This strength is apparent in their capacity to sustain a female tradition of intellectual excellence, in their promotion of women as scholars, and in their focus on a healthy educational climate for women. In order to understand the current status of women’s colleges and their particular role in education, it is revealing to step back in time to the beginning of higher education for...

    • 7 Women’s Studies and Curricular Change
      (pp. 133-162)

      The evolution and growth of women’s studies as a formal area of teaching and research is one of the major achievements of women in higher education over the last 20 years. The idea of women’s studies emerged in the late 1960s under the impetus of the women’s movement, and its progress since then has been extraordinary. Against all odds—financial, political, and intellectual—a cadre of committed feminist scholars, joined by a few men, succeeded in gaining recognition for the legitimacy of the subject area and led the way to the establishment of courses and degree programs in colleges and...


    • 8 Affirmative Action
      (pp. 165-192)

      If the campus issue of the 1960s was student protest, surely the cry of the 1970s was “affirmative action.” In that decade, academic women became more and more aware that a benign neutrality would not be enough to achieve equality on campus. Reasoned expositions of the facts apparently would not be enough to change the dismal pattern of continuing pay differentials, discrimination in hiring and promotion, and the many related phenomena which contributed to institutionalized, systemic discrimination against women. In fact, it became increasingly apparent that the first step was to establish unequivocally that a problem did exist, with regard...

    • 9 Nontraditional Fields for Women
      (pp. 193-224)

      One of the most fundamental changes in women’s higher education since 1970 is the shift away from the conventional “women’s fields” and into the sciences, engineering, medicine, other health professions such as veterinary medicine and dentistry, law, business and management, theology, architecture, and numerous smaller specialties. Such a large scale movement into the traditionally male-dominated fields calls into question a number of long-cherished beliefs on the part of both women and men regarding the “differentness” of women, their presumed preferences for people over things, for emotion and intuition over rigorous logic and rational thought. For those scientists and other scholars...

    • 10 Transitional and Traditional Fields for Women
      (pp. 225-254)

      The last chapter chronicled the massive shift of women from the traditional “women’s fields” to the sciences and other male-dominated professions over the last decade and a half. At the same time, women have continued to enter the traditional fields in large numbers. These fields consist of two widely disparate groups—on the one hand, the academic disciplines within the humanities, primarily history, languages, and literature; and on the other hand, the professional fields of teaching, social work, library science, and nursing. The humanities are counted among the learned professions and, as such, they are directed toward scholarly careers or...

    • 11 Faculty Women: Preparation, Participation, and Progress
      (pp. 255-274)

      As we have seen, in the early 1970s numerous federal laws and regulations were passed that were aimed at equalizing opportunities for women in higher education: Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibiting discrimination in employment was extended in 1972 to include all educational institutions; the Equal Pay Act of 1963 was extended to cover executive, administrative, and professional employment; and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 was enacted prohibiting sex discrimination in all federally assisted education programs. Also in 1972 guidelines were issued for implementing Executive Orders 11246 and 11375 requiring federal contractors to institute affirmative...

    • 12 Women’s Groups in Professional Associations
      (pp. 275-290)

      To an extent not generally appreciated, women’s groups in professional associations have played a strategic role in the advancement of women in higher education. They have functioned as pressure groups on behalf of academic women, with two primary goals—to improve the professional status of women and to encourage scholarly research on women. The origin and development of these groups beginning in the late 1960s was first chronicled by Kay Klotzberger in her essay inAcademic Women on the Move.There were at that time some 50 such groups which had been formed between 1968 and 1971. Today, there are...

    • 13 Research Centers
      (pp. 291-314)

      The emergence and development of women’s studies as an area of teaching and research during the 1970s represents probably the most powerful force affecting women in higher education. In this period the isolated efforts of individual scholars were galvanized under the impetus of the women’s movement to form organized curricula and research programs. The evolution of the “new scholarship about women,” as it is also sometimes known, is nothing less than phenomenal, particularly when viewed against a background in which higher education generally was in a period of retrenchment. Notwithstanding the prevailing conditions of financial stringency, women’s studies activities encompassing...


    • Photographs
      (pp. None)
    • 14 Women in Educational Administration
      (pp. 317-332)

      In November 1971 Alan Pifer, then president of the Carnegie Corporation, chose as his topic for a speech to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, “Women in Higher Education.” Addressing a largely male audience, he documented inequalities in the participation of women at all levels. With regard to women in educational administration, he noted:

      In the top ranks of college and university administration, if one excepts the Catholic women’s colleges, one has to look far and wide to find a woman. There are currently virtually no four-year coeducational institutions headed by a woman. Even among the nonsectarian women’s colleges...

    • 15 Women as Trustees
      (pp. 333-356)

      Scholars differ on the origins of lay boards of higher education. Some point to Harvard’s first external board of overseers as a uniquely American governance structure.¹ Others cite prototypes of twelfth-century Italian city-states where boards of citizens served as liaisons between students and instructors. Educational policy in the Netherlands and Scotland following the Reformation in fact vested responsibility in lay leaders instead of the clergy.²

      Whatever the colonists’ precedents or innovation, however, Harvard’s founding in 1636 eventually resulted in a lay governance structure that, with few challenges, became the model for American higher education. Oxford and Cambridge had been moving...


    • 16 Progress and Prospects
      (pp. 359-372)

      We have seen that the history of higher education for women spans a period of 150 years, a period far shorter than that for men, which in the United States began with the founding of Harvard College in 1636. In Europe at that time there was a well-established tradition of university education for men, but not for women. The onset of the Civil War and the need to maintain university enrollments followed by a growing need for teachers during the latter part of the nineteenth century provided the conditions under which women entered higher education in growing numbers. By the...

  10. Bibliography
    (pp. 373-390)
  11. Index
    (pp. 391-415)