Women in Higher Education

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

Alternative Patterns for Recurrent Education

The Nontraditional Student in Academe

JEAN W. CAMPBELL

The American Council on Education in 1957 held a landmark conference on the education of women. There it was often noted that talented young women did not go on to higher education in nearly the same numbers as their male counterparts and that the discrepancy increased successively at higher degree levels. Even then, when economic and cultural pressures combined to encourage women to concentrate on home and children, the waste was called appalling. Inefficiency in women's education was attributed by some leaders to the inflexible character of the educational establishment. Why must education be consecutive and full time? Could not women combine study and homemaking until the children were in school and be prepared then to move into jobs worthy of their talents? Should they not be able to leave school to marry and care for their small children and then return? Institutions were exhorted to develop programs that would be responsive to the discontinuities in women's lives and to women's educational purposes and at the same time suit institutional structures and characteristics. Some of them did.1

In 1962 the American Council again focused national attention on women's education through a conference largely devoted to exploring the new programs for women who were continuing their education. These programs demonstrated that women with families could return to school or combine their family responsibilities and their educational programs without interruption if the colleges and universities would make some adjustments.2 The continuing educa-

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1
See Opal D. David, ed., The Education of Women: Signs for the Future ( Washington: American Council on Education, 1959).
2
See Lawrence E. Dennis, ed., Education and a Woman's Life ( Washington: American Council on Education, 1963).

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