Women in Higher Education

By W. Todd Furniss; Patricia Albjerg Graham | Go to book overview

DAVID B. TRUMAN


The Women's Movement and the Women's College

In raising the question of the future of the independent women's college, we are dealing with a single point in a fluid and highly unstable situation in the whole world of higher education. To say where, what, even whether that single point will be in the future requires premonitory endowments that I cannot claim. Almost any other single point in higher education would present comparable difficulties, but foreseeing the future of the independent women's college is particularly complicated because one's forecast depends heavily and directly on changes in the society, over which neither the women's colleges nor the higher education system has any significant control. In almost equal degree, the future of independent women's colleges will depend on actions that these colleges themselves take. On this point I can suggest fairly clearly what should and can be done. The uncertainty enters when one attempts to predict whether these things will be done and what the exchange pattern will be between developments in the society and what is attempted, or neglected, by the independent women's college.

These are the two points to which I shall address myself: First, what likely changes and persistent patterns in the society will directly affect the women's colleges? Second, what can and should these colleges do within this context? I am, of course, a biased witness. A year ago my institution, Mount Holyoke, recommitted itself to being a women's college. I supported and favored that recommitment. Since I would not knowingly lead the college to disaster, I am inescapably biased on the side of a positive future for it and for its sisters.


PATTERNS AND CHANGES

I start from the conviction that the current women's movement is a fact and a persisting one, not a passing fashion. It is a genuine

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