Proposal to ACE, Roster of Women Scholars, 1971

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DRAFT of COVER LETTER to MR. ROGER HEYNS of ACE:
 
 The myths and misinformation surrounding the role, responsibilities
 and success of women in higher education has prompted the Seven
 College Conference to propose and to investigate the establishment
 of a roster of women in the academic world. Such a roster, we believe,
 would respond to the current needs for information on the status of
 women in higher education. At the same time it would provide a means
 of identifying women in various professional fields in higher
 education.
 
 This project has been discussed by the Seven College Conference
 for more than a year. It has the warm support of each of the Seven
 Colleges (Barnard, Bryn Mawr, Mount Holyoke, Radcliffe, Smith,
 Vassar, and Wellseley), and the preliminary work on assembling
 information for this proposal has been assisted by grants from
 each of the Seven Colleges. In addition, representatives of various
 professional and scholarly organizations met at Barnard College on
 January 12,1972 to discuss this proposal, and each has given her
 support. Supplementary statements of support for the proposal have
 been received, also from others who could not meet with us in
 New York.
 
 We believe that this project is of utmost urgency, and we are
 convinced that the American Council on Education, representing as
 it does the leaders of higher education, is the appropriate sponsor.
 we urge, therefore, your consideration of the attached proposal
 and your acceptance of the project as an appropriate and urgent part
 of the program of the American Council on Education.
 
 Sincerely yours,
 
 For the Seven College Conference
 
 To be attached: Iist of endorsers of the project as noted in paragraph 2.
 
 
Proposal to ACE re: Roster of Women Scholars
 
 Higher education in America has long supported research on many
 fronts. However, data have always been scanty in one area: women in
 the academic world. That lack of data has reflected a general in-
 difference to the well-being of women in the academic world.
 
 As representatives of the Seven College Conference (Barnard,
 Bryn Mawr, Mount Holyoke, Radcliffe, Smith, Vassar and Wellesley),
 all with both a historical and contemporary concern for the education
 of women, we now urge the American Council on Education to sponsor
 a roster of women scholars. Representatives of the women's groups of
 the major professional associations support us.
 
 Such a roster would serve at least two purposes: 1) to create
 a data base to be used for research on women academics, and 2) to
 provide information about specific women scholars in specific fields.
 Both purposes are vital, particularly at this time of increased concern
 about the status of women in colleges and universities and about the
 discrimination they often suffer there. Moreover, non-academic in-
 stitutions (e.g.government agencies, corporations, foundations) would
 doubtless find such a roster useful.
 
 1) At the moment, we have many myths about women, but few facts.
 Those myths must either be verified or corrected. We need facts about
 their length of service in their professions; the effect of marriage
 and motherhood on academic work; salary differentials between men
 and women; publication performance; research opportunities and
 much else. We do not even know the effect higher education has on
 a woman's lifetime earnings. we do know those figures for men,
 another indication of preferential treatment in research.
 
 This is not to say that no research has been done. Some has, much
 of it excellent. Unhappily, it is not comprehensive. Many questions
 remain to be answered. For example, Helen Astin‘s study of women
 doctorates in the mid-fifties showed an astonishingly high propor-
 tion of them had attended women's colleges. The two leading colleges
 in the United States in absolute numbers of women doctorates were
 Hunter and Barnard. Seven of the leading 24 colleges she listed were
 women's colleges, although at that time only about ten percent of
 the women undergraduates were attending women's colleges. Two questions
 are obvious: (1) Are the women's colleges still leading producers of
 women doctorates? and (2) What was there about them that made them
 or their students so successful then? Those institutions thinking now
 about admitting women, those which have Just become coeducational,
 and those traditionally coeducational should, it seems, know what
 factors in college life encouraged women to work at their intellectual
 bests.
 
 
 2) Specific information about women scholars would help colleges
 and universities to design acceptable affirmative action plans, to
 set reasonable goals for the hiring of women in various fields, and then - 
 most important - to hire them. A persistent criticism of American
 academic practice is that hiring has traditionally been done through
 the so-called "buddy system”. No roster of women scholars will change
 such an ingrained custom, but it will give information to those who
 seek new hiring practices.
 
 We think that the roster should include all women holding
 doctorates, all women at the assistant professor level or above
 in both teaching and administrative positions in American education.
 we also suggest that the women in the roster who might wish to
 consider administrative positions in the future be identified.
 We include a draft version of the questionnaire, which illustrates
 the kind of information we would seek. Since the material must
 be kept current, a regular method of updating the data on each
 woman would be necessary.
 
 In order to locate the women eligible for the roster, we hope
 you will enlist the cooperation of the National Academy of Sciences,
 which maintains a list of persons who receive doctorates annually. It
 will also be necessary to circularize the colleges and universities
 to locate the women on their teaching and administrative staffs who
 are eligible for inclusion in the roster.
 
 Estimates for the cost of this project, which we anticipate
 will include data about 30,000 women, have varied considerably.
 A reasonable estimate seems to be $60,000 annually.