Report of the Task Force on Barnard and the Educated Woman, April 1971

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The Task Force on Barnard and the Educated woman consists of trustees, faculty, alumnae, students, and administrators. We explored three questions:

1) Does Barnard College, an undergraduate institution, have any responsibility towards women not actually enrolled there?

2) If so, who might these women be? Its alumnae? The educated woman within the New York region? women within Barnard‘s immediate neighborhood?

3) Is Barnard showing its students what it means to be an educated woman in contemporary America? »

we concluded:

1) That Barnard could serve women who were not a part of its student body in ways compatible with its character as a college.

2) That at the present time Barnard could best serve its alumnae and women interested in academic pursuits, but that its programs should be flexible enough to be of interest to many other women.

3) That Barnard must do more to equip its students for problems which they might encounter after graduation. As .- Professor Pat Farnsworth noted, "I have been constantly disturbed by the blase attitude we have towards students who are unprepared for the rigors of career development in the real world after many years of academia." (1) while we were skeptical of attempts to make all Barnard students hardunosed professionals, we were pain~ fully 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.

Certain common assumptions lay beneath our conclusions. Among them were:

1) Barnard, because of its history, its staff, and its location, is uniquely capable of becoming a national center for the study of women and their interests.

2) Much of the study of the history, the psychology, and

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(1) In a proposal to the Task Force for a seminar for students

and working women about career development. The Allmnae Advisory Vocational Committee (Jackie Greenspon, chairman) and the Committee on the Vocational Development of Barnard women (Jane 8. Could, chairman) have already done valuable work in this area.


the talents of women has been either false or supergicial. Nor is the current research into such matters being sufficiently pulled together. .

3) women, because of the demands of marriage and motherhood, may have irregular job patterns.

4) Barnard now wastes, through ignoring them, the 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 towards the B.A. or to grant any woman the N.A., Ph.D., or professional degree. How- ever, Barnard can work with other divisions of the University, such as the School of General Studies, to devise ways to break down the obstacles to the education of women,

One practical proposal: far more University—wide co-oper— ation to set up a series of day—care centers for the children of faculty, students, staff, and neighborhood families.

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, out- side of the college. Moreover, too often members of the Barnard 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 educating women is a less prestigious job than educating men. _ Only a systematic, yet sensitive, community self—sorutiny can‘ end such myth—making. -

Our most general suggestion is that Barnard create and sup- port a Women's Center with research library, competent director, adequate stafggjgfidffiicsejcpnnections”to“the“co11ege and to the‘ lifé”bffynd§rgraduates. While such a Center should use grants"' as\seed'money, it should eventually become financially self~ sustaining. Too many programs for and about women have atrophied

because of their lack of a stable financial base.

The Center would direct a number of projects. we have some specific suggestions for possible projects. They fall into two rough categories: non—academic and academic.

Non—Academic Projects:

1) Women with a B.A. degree encounter resistance to the full development of their skills. women in graduate schobl are the victims of bias in awarding fellowships; women at work get less money and fewer promotions. Barnard should:

a) Set up a complaint bureau for alumnae who discover prejudice in graduate and professional schools. Barnard could co—operate with other women‘s colleges in clearing complaints”

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from their graduates as well. The colleges might then bring concerted pressure to bear on the offending graduate and prod fessional schools.

b) Organize a committee of lawyers who are Barnard graduates. The Barnard Lawyers’ Committee, which would have no V legal connection with the college, would represent Barnard alumnae and other women in selected cases of job discrimination. (Such a committee might find funds from tax—exempt legal defense or- ganizations which various feminist groups are now trying to set up .

2) In New York is a large group of Barnard alumnae and other_

women who exemplify a variety of patterns of life. Barnard ghould draw up a file of these women who would:

a) Be available for formal lectures in the classroom at the discretion of the faculty. For example, an alumna who is a civil rights lawyer could speak before a political science class.

b) Be available for informal discussions at Barnard about a particular pattern of life. 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 birth control, 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 requirements. She needs: (i facts about kinds of available jobs; (ii) re— training in order to get certain jobs; (iii) funds to under~ write such retraining; (iv) moral support. Barnard should set up a data bank to supply women with the information 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 expectency of a woman born in 1970 is 7# years. If she has children, they will probably be in school before she is thirtyg this will leave her more than four decades in which to work out- side 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 iniquities in hiring practices at present.

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5) Many students believe that the college should provide them some informal training in skills which a prevailing culture thinks "unfeminine": classes in plumbing, auto mechanics, elec~ trical circuitry, and other day—to~day technology. Goucher College now runs a good and popular program in this line of skills. Some may find such a request frivolous, but depriving students of this training hampers them and signifies an outmoded notion of women's nature.

A group of students also believes that the college should further encourage athletic teams, especially in field sports, on both the intercollegiate and intramural level. The teams, where appropriate, 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. whereas the format of the seminars should vary from the formal presentation of papers to films to informal sessions, they would have three major concerns:

a) Immediate political issues of concern to women, such as the Equal Rights Amendment, which calls for objective analysis; '

b) 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 Xork on the staffs of foundations, unions, hospitals might come together, on invitaion, for a period of weeks, to discuss ways in which women can be trained to take on positions of leadership;

c) Long~range academic questions about the study of

women, which call for new research. Questions, the research

into which might be brought together, include the possible psy- chogenetic differences between men and women; modes of artificial breeding; women and their notions of power; homosexuality;

the role of the family before and after the Puritan Revolution; the idea of women in 17th century science; the relationship of the rise in feminism to imperialism and militarism in the nine~ teenth~century.

Transcripts of these seminars, formal papers, and work from women students, often ignored in graduate schools, should be published ina journal, the first serious, national academic journal about the study of women.

2) Alumnae too often are not exposed to new intellectual currents within the college. Barnard should make videotapes of actual classrooms: a history colloquium, a lecture o n black theology, the interdepartmental course on "Masculinity/Femininity." The tapes could be distributed at cost through the women‘s Center



and local alumnae clubs. It seems feasible that a corporation now marketing videotapes for the home market might help finance such an experiment. -

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. (He recommends as background reading Martha S. white, "Psychological and Social Barriers to women in Science, "SCIENCE, Vol. 170 (23 October 1970), 413-416.) The Barnard science de- partments might serve as administrative and logistical bases for bringing women back into the competitive web of research. Participants in such a program, who might be known as fellows, would devote themselves to reading, study, and discussions. They might also operate part~time in teaching labs for undergraduates,~ working with lab assistants. Given time, a place to work, and sympathetic advice, such women could prepare manuscript theses for publication, see if they really wished to re—enter the world of competitive research, and if they have only B.A.'s, prepare for graduate school.

4) To use Barnard‘s library about women, to bring interesting people to the campus, to encourage the intellectual and creative accomplishments of women, Barnard should establish a second kind of fellowship program. The money for the fellowships should be the income from a capital fund to insure an on—going pyogram.

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 reform.

Far fewer fellowships are available to women on the post doctoral than on the pre—doctoral level. Of the groups most active in supporting the graduate education of women, the AAUW gives only three or four post—doctoral awards a year; the Danforth Foun~ dation gives only pre~doctoral awards; and the Radcliffe Institute gives about half of its thirty-five to forty awards a year to women with a Ph.D. or its equivalent.

A Barnard Fellowship would permit its holders to take either a semester or a year off to do research or to write. $10,000 a year, depending upon need, seems a reasonable maximum grant. The recipients should keep a real connection with Barnard. They should be given office space, perhaps some meals in the dormitories, and in return, they should speak, formally and in- formally, to the college from time to time about their work.

Such a fellowship program, balancing women scholars, scientists, and activists, could, we believe, be without pre- cedent. We recommend that Barnard give two fellowships to a woman working on the post—doctoral level or its equivalent to every one fellowship to a community worker.

we strongly suggest that a committee be chosen, to include

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representatives from our task force, to determine priorities, to discuss funding, and to help translate our proposals into effec~ tive action. we also suggest that the Barnard faculty be asked to pass a resolution in support of a women‘s Center and that

the alumnae support be actively solicited.

For Barnard to establish and maintain a women's Center,

for Barnard to carry out projects such as those we propose, would be especially propitious at the present time. The injustices which women have so frequently suffered, the complexity of our myths about masculinity and femininity, are being freshly re- cognized. It would be fitting for Barnard to assert its tradi~ tional role in combatting such injustices and in rationally ex- ploring such complexities.

Task Force on Barnard and the Educated woman Catharine R. Stimpson, Chairman

Ms. Eleanor M. Elliott" Ms. Elizabeth Janeway Professor John Elliq Professor Patricia Farnsworhh Professor Patricia Graham Ms. Elizabeth Hardwick Professor Mary Mothersill

* Professor Barry Ulanov Ms. Pat Herman Ms. Annette Niemtzow Ms. Marilyn Umlas wachtel Ms. Anne Grant West Ms. Judi Rachelson Ms. Vicky Taylor Ms. Jane S. Gould Ms. Barbara Hertz Ms. Amy Hackett

'3‘ Professor Ulanov supports the principles of the Task Force Report. He wishes to stress even more strongly the idea that a Women's Center, or Women's Conference, would have the responsibility of initiating, not simply of responding to, dialogue on the problems and place of women in contemporary life.