Report on the conclusions of the Task Force on Barnard and the Educated Woman, with edits, 1971

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Two hundred years ago Samuel Johnson described an unconventional feminine pursuit: "A woman'sVpreaching is like a dog's walking on his hind legs. It is not done well; but you are suprised to find it done at all." Hilariously archaic though this condescension

may seem to us, it still strongly colors men's attitudes today  u,(,\,;.m,.‘n/ M. WM:/j attitudes which now go under the name of male chauvinism. Certainly mM‘vLp, V M»; ,au:Qz ciauuvumig

I in our society seems a prime prerequisite to establishing a new z/L*';I/,:+' 5’,

the aim of the new 'teministsto reexamine and redefine sex roles

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and ampler human role for all of us, male and female. V’/ldgfltj Barnard's involvement with programs for women is not merely “H71/l'¢£':‘-"VJ a reflection of the current popularity of the "woman question". It is really the renewal of an old commitment, since feminism at Barnard goes back to the very beginnings of our history‘ Our name itself came from a president of Columbia University, to honor his belief in the importance of full educational opportunities for women and his efforts to achieve them. one of our earlijci deans,

Emily James Smith Putnam, in 1910 wrote "The Lady", a sociological

study of the position of women through the ages which was reissued

last year. ‘And Virginia Gildersleeve, who guided Barnard for

0+; ‘ U3<:»'’h\ 36 years, established a strong tradition-fu'rfi'.'bs women -«I:-e—werkh\fl toward large social goals, both by her own example and through consistent precept that there are no limits to what thorough training, uncompromising excellence and perseverance could achieve. Her devotion to internationalism, culminating in her role as the only American woman involved in the formation of the United Nations, amply demonstrated on how great a stage a woman could play her part.

Alas, at Barnard as well as elsewhere, the momentum of early feminism, which produced real political’ and educational gains for women, was lost in the total concentration of both sexes, first on the economic struggle to survive the depression of the Thirties,

J n”q"’hl«d‘Lfl then on the war effort. After nearly two decades of neglect, it

Hflk. flag (L21.L/ /E 9* was easy for women to turn away entirely from feminist concerns H V MMCAA .,

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/ &/L FL M/“"fi"’k—-afid"devote their energies to family and community goals during the

7 Cvm(:'b(1Lc. ‘ ' '0 ‘,6; ,\ . "back to normalcy" years that followed. J V‘ Y r  W V (L14, ,2. F ~ w1u,«t:ac.(rio‘-\—  W'iM+ LW 2

 

. 7 K’ K N w t at, unf‘nished business of f minis has finally been , . ‘ / - .

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V‘V]['Lr»1‘/(if,-(1/1 brought out to be decis'vely dealt with, we can see that women's

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own psychological conditioning to accept 3;. inferior role was

one main reason why the early‘ gains were not pressed until full social equality was achieved. So a peerequisite to progress is the need to provide opportunities to help women understand their

own history, nature, potentialities and social roles. Before

real parity of the sexes can be aciieved and woman takes her place

 

/W 7 A1 ing that has chained her in her traditional "feminine" roles. And

\ 1 if hM+I/M Mt:/utlccu 7 ’ _   ' surely a college for women is  oper place to achieve this

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necessary unders tanding. /“UK

K/19  In the past two years we have begun to come to grips with"the

> ’ - 2 5i 9‘, V1/V”/1/&.—»~ |¢, v\s(_ +2‘ woman question" and our proper ' it. The first major effort QB U21

came in the spring of 1970, when Barnard held a full-scale Conference on Women, with sociologist Alice Rossi as the major speaker. On this occasion we explored from various directions the social, economic and psychological needs of women and how they could be

more adequately met.

This June our Reunion program was planned around the same theme, and the enthusiastic response of the alumnae -- and even

of the wider community -- was ample proof, if any was needed, that

the subject is one of vital concern to a wide cross section of our graduates. Major presentations included: author-alumna Elizabeth Janeway

discussing her new boolg" Man's World, Woman's Place"; Educ-a-t—ioxr

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ProfessornPatricia Graham on Women in Academe; a report on the

vocational achievements and problems of the Class of 1965;

Congressman Jonathan Bingham on Legislative Changes of Concern ¢(’aL__mn;4 ;,_ A

to Women; a panel discussion of the psychological stresses of

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concern to women; and career workshops in the arts, business and .

science. Although presented in depth and expanded to two full

days, the program maintained its momentum to the last workshop

session, and the audience clearly sustained its interest in the

problems and possibilities being explored.

 

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\ v'1=hese~expl1>re-Eions—and—t/he resu—1tin' cbnclaeéofi pointed the‘

way-rt}; an in-depth study of how Barnard could best respond to the challenges of the new feminism.  Task Force on Barnard and the Educated Woman, composed of trustees, faculty,

alumnae, students and administrators has been exploring three basic

questions:

1) Does Barnard College, an undergraduate institution, have

any responsibility towards women not actually enrolled there? KMLLQ [10, K 2) If so, who might these women be? Its alumnae? The ‘MLJ W/M’) ° W

educated women within the New York region? Women within Barnard's v L ./ Cl/M. K2

immediate neighborhood‘? _.1L—— @1101 I

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3) Is Barnard showing its students what it means to be an educated woman in contemporary America? - a 4+ .;\L1~.CJq

This report will attempt to summarize the conclusions/\they arr1ved}
            
"I have been constantly disturbed by the blasev/attitude we have toward students who are unprepared for the rigors of career development in the real world after many years of academia!’ While we were skeptical of attempts to make all Barnard students hard-nosed professionals, we were painfully aware of the ways in which society discriminates against women. Too many people think an educated woman less useful and competent than any educated man, a theory which puts the educators of women in an odd position.”

Behind these conclusions lay certain basic assumptions on which the task force -was agreed:

1) Barnard, because of its history, its staff, and its location, has a special capacity for becoming a national center for "the study of women and their interests.

2) Much of the study of the history, the psychology, and the talents of women has been either false or superficial. Nor is the current research into such matters being sufficiently pulled together.

3) Women, becausehof the demands of marriage and motherhood, may have irregular job patterns. lc) Barnard has a rich resource, now largely untapped, in the  ’“‘”‘Z

energies of its alumnae and women living in New York.

5) Barnard, as an undergraduate college, lacks the facilities either to help older women resume work toward the B.A. or to grant any woman the M.A. , Ph.D., or professional degree. However, Barnard can work with other divisions of the University to devise ways to break down the obstacles to the education of women.

6) Students want and need a livelier, more personal sense of the world apart from the classroom. They should be brought

into contact with women, both professional and otherwise, outside .

of college. Moreover, too often members of the college community carry over into the classroom and office depressing illusions about women's intellectual skills: e.g. that women are both less rational and less adventurous than men: that educaciilé; women is a less prestigious job than educating men. Only a sytematic, yet sensitive, community self-scrutiny can end ‘such myth-making.

These assumptions led inescapably to the central conclusion that Barnard should move toward the creation of a Woman's Center, a focal point for the study of women and their interests. with

a growing research library, a competent director and staff, its

natural close connections to the college and its undergraduate

life and a financial structure aimed at becoming self-sustaining, such a center could generate programs of vital importance to women in their drive toward greater se1f
            
2) Set up a resource file drawn from the large group of New York alumnae and other women who exemplify a variety of patterns of life. These women would: a) Be aqailable for formal lectures in the classroom. For example, an alumna who is a civil rights lawyer could speak before a political science class. b) Be aflailable for informal discussions at Barnard about a particular pattern ofrlife. A woman could, for example, help

students to recognize the frequent ambivalence married women .

feel about their careers, or working women feel about marriage. Such speakers would be but one aspect of a larger program of realistic counselling for undergraduates which would include information, not only about jobs, but also about physiology, sexuality, and marriage. Lectures on these topics could be open to Columbia students and to residents of the community.

3) The woman who wants to go back to work after a period of years away from the job market has a number of needs: (i) facts

about kinds of available jobs; (ii) retraining in order to get

re . certain jobs; (iii) funds to underwrite such/Ktraining; (iv) moral

support. Barnard should set up a data bank to supply women with

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the informatdoon they need and a system of regional counselors to give women (and undergraduates) the support they might want. Alumnae clubs in Philadelphia and Washington have already begun to do this on a local level.

The need for such information is going to grow. The life expectancy of a woman born in l970 is 74 years. If she has children, they will probably be in school before she is thirty; this will leave her more than four decades in which to work outside of the home.

4) The Seven College Conference is now exploring ways in which to establish a roster of women scholars. The Women's Center could not only administer that roster, but also maintain a list of other women professionals which institutions could consult while trying to hire women in the future or to correct inequities in hiring practices at present.

5) Many students believe.‘ that the college should provide them some informal triianing in skills which a prevailing culture thinks "unfeminine": classes in plumbing, auto mechanics, electrical

circuitry, and other day-to-day technology. Some may find such.

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a request frivolous, but depriving students of this training hampers them and signifies an outmoded notion of women's nature. Another possible direction is encouragement of athletic teams, on both the intercollegiate and intramural level. The teams, where appvopriate, might include graduate students and alumnae. They would help to develop in women a competitive energy often left underdeveloped. Academic Projects 1) The Women's Center could sponsor a permanent series of seminars on Women and Society, of varying format but with three major concerns: ‘ a) Immediate political issues of concern to women, such as the Equal Rights Amendment, which calls for objective analysis; 1:) Immediate personal issues of concern to women, such as the conflict between career and .marriage, which call for mutual analysis. For example, women in New York on the staffs of foundations, unions, hospitals might be invited to discuss ways in which women can Vbe trained to take on postions of leadership;

c) Long—range academic questions about the study of women,

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which call for new research, such as the possible psychogenetic

differences between men and women; women and their notions of

power; the idea of women in 17th century science; and many others.

To publish these and other findings a serious, national

academic journal about the study of women should be created.

2) Alumnae too often are not exposed to new intellectual

currents within the college. Barnard should make videotapes of

actual classroom sessions available at cost through the Women's

Center and local alumnae clubs.

3) Professor John Sanders of the Geology Department has

pointed out the acute intellectual, psychological, and political

disadvantages women have in starting up their careers in science

again. The Barnard science departments might serve as administrative

and logistical bases for bringing women back into the competitive

web of research through a program of fellowships. Participants

would devote themselves to reading, study, arid discussions. They

might also operate part~time in teaching labs for undergraduates,

working with lab assistants.

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1|) A second kind of fellowship program might be developed to use Barnard's library about women, to bring interesting people to the campus, and to encourage the intellectual and creative accomplishments of women.

Two kinds of women acutely need financial aid: (i) Those doing work on the post-doctoral level; and (ii) those doing community work relevant to women, such as abortion law refonn Far fewer fellowships are available to women on the post doctoral than on the pre-doctoral leveL

As this outline indicates, the role of our alumnae in these projects will be enormously important, both as contributors to and recipients of the services of the center. These 16,000 women will constitute one of its richest resources -- an enormously valuable pool of talents, training, energies, experience, career vicissitudes and human wisdom. In one way or another, some of them have met and overcome -- or fallen victim to -~ just about every

possible challenge, discrimination, obstacle, opportunity and

     

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14 women within reach of the center's influence. Also many of these same alumnae now stand in need of help against economic, professional, psychological and legal pressures -- as well as aid in raising their own consciousness of their PDEEHH-5193 as people.

In all these ways a Women's Center will, we hope, be a most effective tool to bind alumnae in meaningful ways to their college and the cause of their sex.

All the evidence points to the need of a great many women for help in resolving the social and psychological conflicts in which they find themselves engaged at different times ip/their lives. They" want 'to to l'ea'rn'how tomfindnew directions as each established life pattern loses its validity -- how to resolve generational tensions within their families -- how best to use their talents and training without neglecting important home responsibilities, as well as how to accept the fact of their own needs as people in the face of those responsibilities. They need support in their struggles against professional and economic discrimination, and the know—how to deal most effedtively with such situations. Any

number of basic life conflicts ‘that we all must meet and cope with

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through the years can be eased and comprehended through the exchange of ideas and experiences with one's peers, and by the banding together into a strorggroup for effective communal action in support of individual members in crisis. If a college and an alumnae organization can present these 5 1 £2 opportunities to their alumnae, it can be five most valid service L kL'
            
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for the reform of discriminating laws, or support of women candidates for office. Once joint action becomes an accepted way, there is practically no limit to the influence such a group can wield for good, in its own community or even in a broader arena.

Alma Mater sometime ago, in a report on attitudes of seniors , , ..., .'f'..a('§\«~7l’7  ..a.———-/ A (101; Vvq;L.\ 301.2 mm / ._ . .

toward  quoted a as saying: "I think one /

of the handicaps that present alumni organizations face is that

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they have never been a vehicle for effecting social change. I .

think the people who are going to be entering an alumni organization are going to need an agency through which they can effect social change." And my own President, Martha Peterson, in addressing an AAUW Convention in 1969, made the same point more succinctly: ''I really must question whether we have contributed, as women, what we are able to contribute to society... There are unlimited opportunities for things we should and must do. we need to learn to make peace. We need to learn to value human beings. We need to establish a society  which... we can move ahead positively

and strongly..."

We at Barnard hope that in our efforts to provide opportunities

for women to learn about themselves» and their infinite potential, we may be taking a step toward what Matthew Arnold once dreamed of: "If ever we see a time when the women of the world come

together purely and solely for the benefit of mankind, no force

the urniverse can stop them.‘ . 3;:  fl f%wtL

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