The Women's Center, Barnard College, pamphlet, 1971, page 12

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          A Sociologist Looks at the Center 

The anti-feminist feeling
following World War II
manifested itself, among
other ways, in the criticism
of women's education on
the grounds that women
were educated “as if they
were men in disguise." In-
stead of making women
proud to be women, it was
alleged that the feminist glorified masculine aptitudes
and goals. At least one critic urged the creation of a
“distinctively feminine" college curriculum, one in
which the minor arts of ceramics, textiles, cooking, in-
terior decorating and the like would not be excluded
because of the hitherto dominant masculine preference
for the abstract and the flamboyant.

In Women in the Modern World: Their Education
and Their Dilemmas, published in 1953, I condemned
this view as reactionary. I attempted to show that
neither the psychological differences between men and
women nor their different social roles demand a dis-
tinctively feminine college curriculum. On the contrary,
the book claimed that the closer a liberal arts college
comes to fulfilling its goals, the better it serves both
men and women within the framework of the same
broad curriculum.

Much, but not enough, has changed since 1950. The
soaring rise in the proportion of married women in the
work force, the considerable percentage of women
college graduates who are working even at the peak
of their child-rearing responsibilities, the greater likeli-
hood that women will outlive their husbands, the con-
cern with the population explosion - these and other
changes mean that women do not and cannot define
their lives solely in terms of wifehood and motherhood.

It is a cliche to attribute
social problems to rapid
social changes and the dis-
locations they produce, but
it is equally true that prob-
lems persist because of re-
sistances to change. While
society today is moving
towards a less rigid differ-
entiation between the ideals
of masculinity and femininity, as well as between the
social roles of the sexes, we suffer from massive in-
consistencies in values and in institutions. As a result,
women do not fully realize their intellectual, profes-
sional and, more generally, their creative potential.
Discrimination against women in access to professional
schools and in jobs, pay, and promotions persists and
must be combatted. More resistant to change are the in-
direct obstacles to full development of women: the low
aspirations and lack of self-confidence of women, some
obsolete stereotypes of masculinity and femininity, the
paucity of existing facilities (eg. day-care centers), and
the lack of organizational innovations that would
ultimately make it feasible for women, who must or
choose to do so, to combine family life and work on
much the same terms as men do.

The current strains in masculine and feminine social
roles and the Women's Movement exert great pressures
upon institutions of higher learning for self-evaluation.
What are the responsibilities of a college such as
Barnard at this particular point in the history of
women's education? The answer, I believe, is to remain
steadfast in its goals and be innovative in its methods.
The College has always been committed to the fullest
realization of the intellectual and professional poten-
tialities of its students, and has always sought to

The leadership for
change in feminine
roles must come from
women. says this
eminent member of the
Barnard faculty —- but
must eventually include