Women in Higher Education

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

MCGEORGE BUNDY


"Justice as Fairness" Between Men and Women

In this conference on "Women in Higher Education," I have chosen, for my part, to address the subject from the standpoint of the male. There are a number of reasons for this choice. One is simply that other papers of high competence have already spoken directly to the needs, aspirations, and current position of women. The quality and variety of the contributions attest the rapid growth in the strength and skill of the movement for fairness to women at every level of higher education.

It is probably a matter for some rejoicing that the movement for fairness to women has now advanced to a high level of sophisticated action, argument, and regulation. Earl Cheit tells me it is an axiom of sociology that it is a sure sign of progress when discussion shifts from the ideological to the technical. Nevertheless, it may be fitting to step back and try to consider first principles again, and, because the leaders in this movement have nearly all been women, it may be reasonable to attempt such a restatement from a male starting point.

My second reason for considering the male view is simple: I have some direct knowledge of the topic. Not only have I been a male for some time, but also my own direct experience of higher education came in the twenty-five years between 1936 and 1961, and during that time--whether as undergraduate, graduate student, or administrator--my professional encounters with women were extraordinarily few. It was only as a teacher that I encountered any significant number of women on a professional basis, and it is obvious that in the 1950s the interests and attitudes of most undergraduate women--and many graduates too--were not the same as they are today. I will cite, in passing, the rather comfortable and even smug speeches that both Harvard and Radcliffe administrators used to make then on the advantages of their complex and am-

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