Proposal to ACE, Roster of Women Scholars, 1971
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.