Women in Higher Education

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

BARBARA SICHERMAN


The Invisible Woman: The Case for Women's Studies

The most exciting curricular innovation of the past two years has been the dramatic appearance of studies for and about women. In October 1971, over six hundred courses in a variety of fields had been registered by the Commission on the Status of Women of the Modern Language Association, an estimated half or third of the actual number. Courses included freshman writing seminars, multidisciplinary offerings such as Female and Male, courses on Patriarchal Politics and The Many Faces of Eve, and specialized offerings on The Psychology of Women, Sociology of the Female Labor Force, and Roman Women. Women's studies courses have also been offered in high schools and in professional schools of social work, education, and law.

Today the emphasis is on establishing programs. At the start of the 1971-72 academic year, plans for at least seventeen programs had been announced, but that figure was hopelessly out of date by June 1972.1 At Richmond College of University of New York, seven students have already graduated with majors in women's studies, and beginning in 1972 Sarah Lawrence College is offering a master's degree in women's history. Appropriate professional conferences and journals are keeping pace.

Many individuals have shared ideas and materials about women's studies with me. I am especially indebted to Phyllis Ackman, Barbara Debs, Marlene Fisher, Dolores Kreisman, and Dorothy G. Singer for reading a draft of this paper. Special thanks are also owed to the students at Manhattanville College who took the course Women in America in spring 1972 for their ideas on women's studies and for the experience of the course itself.

____________________
1
Course outlines and bibliographies are reprinted in Female Studies: I, II, and III, and in Betty E. Chmaj, ed., American Women and American Studies. For descriptions of programs, see Female Studies: III, pp. 140-81. See also the Bibliography, "References on Women's Studies." (The Bibliography also cites in full other references on women's studies and related subjects, published and unpublished, including those for which only abbreviated citations appear in the footnotes of this paper.)

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